One thing is certain, if you don’t deal with hubris and ego it’s going to keep on biting you. So you’d think that Harry and Meghan would have learned that if they want to win the press war, they have to lead it, not fight every word with petulance, stand offs and impulsive statements. But apparently not.
The latest news, informing us that they are quitting as ‘senior Royals’ comes as no real surprise. “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets” was Harry’s chant pre wedding and it’s now clear that Meghan, understandably perhaps, finds the royal spotlight stifling. Alongside her, Harry continues with his fear and loathing of the tabloid media, though the truth is that the negative commentary mostly comes from the public on social channels and that’s not controllable. So, without some compromise, it’s a no win.
But how, in reality, will their new ‘balance’ work? How will they build and protect their brand with one foot in the Royal camp, the other defiantly outside of it? Commercial deals and the Monarchy can’t get too close without a backlash, though arguably outside of the UK, there will be more freedom and acceptance. But it’s clear the power base here will make it difficult for them to make choices freely. The unprecedented statement from Buckingham Place in response yesterday signalled that. Having cake and eating it may not be an option on the Royal table any time soon.
The Sussex statement said it all and what we say matters. Words are only as powerful as the actions they proceed though and responsibilities tend not to go away.
There is no easy way but struggling for control is not going to be the answer. Meghan and Harry must be open to possibility and explore all paths, working with the Royal Family and not against them, or they risk the continuing unease of a nation. We would expect a Hollywood A lister to be antagonistic to a very traditional system, but this latest move is nothing short of arrogant. What seems clear is Meghan and Harry expect some sort of sympathy, but they will need to earn that. And accept that their level of fame is almost impossible to escape from.
The Monarchy has been under intense scrutiny for some time. As a brand they will be taking steps to ensure a solid future as the reign of Queen Elizabeth comes closer to its end. Charles took immediate moves to remove Prince Andrew from the Royal stage and it’s clear he and William will be examining ways to ensure damage control today. You don’t really want to be on the outside of that process when building a new brand relies to the greatest extent on its allure.
At the end of the day, we are all proof of our own value. It’s not about the shine of our style and attitude or the prestige of our employer. What makes things work is nothing to do with power or accolades, praise or the width of a circle of friends in high places. A successful brand is really just about never losing touch. It really is that simple.
Meghan and Harry have so many positive virtues and still have the hearts of many. Letting go now of any sense of entitlement and embittered stances will see them thrive. There may not be a right answer but prioritising what is needed over what is desired is a place to start. No amount of bullying or debate ever changes reality.
This isn’t Hollywood.