Saturday, December 10, 2022

Point of Order: Princess in fairy tale but happy ending unlikely

For people who sought to escape from the glare of unwelcome publicity, Harry and Meghan Windsor show no signs of going away.

Their latest business venture – an eponymous blockbuster Netflix docudrama – may or may not prove a success but there is no question that it’s on a grand scale.

In the UK, the early coverage has amplified it into a battle against structural racism in the Royal Family. The couple themselves more modestly term it the beginning of their fight against oppression.

Structural – of or pertaining to physical makeup – is a handy qualifier. If something is inherent, then there’s less need for rigorous definition, let alone proof of concrete harmful actions. Symbolism is certainly less demanding than trying to pick apart the messy complexity of individual relationships.

But no one can doubt that they have been given a platform to put their side of the story in full. It will therefore be fascinating to see how far the quasi-royal couple can substantiate contentions of victimhood.

On the face of it, they appear to be recipients of exceptional privilege (aptly defined as the prerogative of status or rank). Most people would say the lottery of countries, families and opportunities has put them in the 1% of the 1%.

Perhaps the denial of royal status will win them sympathy. On the other hand, their own preference seems to be for the celebrity alternative.

Royal status rests on the connection between privilege and obligation. It’s about otherwise ordinary people doing what they are supposed to do, rather than what they might want to do.

Without that, it’s hard for the monarchy to symbolise the connection between peoples and the rights and wrongs of their shared history, or even, on a good day, to embody a country.

Netflix will be expecting good ratings from a battle of symbols. The Windsors might be a little less confident.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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