Thank God for the proprieties. This magazine's editor, Fraser Nelson, rattled a few score Anglicans today when he declared in his Radio 4 newspaper roundup at Broadcasting House (pleasingly paired with the FT’s Lionel Barber, BTW) that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were to share a bedroom when they stay with the Queen at Sandringham over Christmas. This was on the back of a piece by Rachel Johnson, sister of, in the Mail on Sunday, deploring the fact that Meghan was to glad hand the crowds after the Christmas service, even though she’s only engaged.
It was the bedroom-sharing arrangement bit that scandalised me. If the Queen, whose other job is supreme governor of the CofE, is turning a blind eye to premarital sex on the premises, then the world as we know it has come to an end. Obviously HM nurses few delusions about her grandson’s sex life; in fact she’d be hard pressed to find any member of the family who shares her own record of containing her sex life within marriage. But we’re talking about the proprieties here, that merciful distinction between life as it should be lived and life as it actually is lived.
So, within the Royal Family, the Queen could pay due respect to marriage by allocating shared bedrooms only to those couples who are actually married; would-be adulterers and fornicators could corridor creep in the usual fashion. Thus the distinction between the married and unmarried state is preserved, appearances are kept, and people can show respect to standards of sexual propriety they may or may not share. Hypocrisy is a great thing: it keeps the distinction between those virtues we admire but cannot adhere to, and our actual behaviour.
But it turns out my alarm was misplaced; the Queen may not in fact be going the way of the rest of the nation, viz, the high road to Gomorrah. Rachel J tells us that the face-saving formula that may be adopted is for Prince William and Meghan M to stay with his brother and sister in law down the road in Anmer Hall. And no one cares what happens there. Just like nobody will really give a toss what the Royals do, think or say once the Queen is gone.