Prior to the interview with Oprah, the British monarchy had never really interested me. I do remember watching the marriage of Prince Charles to Diana, and I even watched bits of Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle. But I’ve never been a royal follower.
However one thing in the Oprah interview did fascinate me. That was Meghan’s proclamation that she had never looked up anything about Prince Harry or his family. I found that to be totally unbelievable and, even more, irresponsible. As an already divorced woman, Meghan is well aware of the mistakes one can make in choosing a spouse. So my curiosity was piqued when Oprah briefly mentioned the Netflix series: The Crown. I started watching it out of curiosity, and have continued watching it out of fascination.
Since I’m not a Royal follower, the accuracy and depictions as presented in the program may include some artistic license. I am well aware of that. But for the most part, the program appears to be accurate retellings of what goes on in the monarchy. I never once gave a thought to the kind of education that Queen Elizabeth got in order to become queen until the program dwelt on it. A formal worldwide education was not bestowed upon her. However, she was indoctrinated with knowledge of the British Constitution. But beyond that, her formal education was limited. One hears the term “King” or “Queen” and, for the most part, automatically assigns them characteristics that they may not possess. They may not be wise. They may not have good judgment. But the title makes us want them to have these characteristics.
Watching the program I have since learned that those in the monarchy cannot vote. They should not take sides on any political issues or express opinions thereof. And the queen doesn’t have a passport. Even when she visited the television set of Game of Thrones, she could not sit on the mythical throne chair because that would be a violation of her role as sovereign. The more I have gotten into the show, the more vividly I can see the realistic depiction of the term “old guard” as the show accurately portrays those who want to hold onto the status quo.
The more I watch the show, the more I wonder how Meghan Markle could have jumped into that family situation without knowing the history. The royal family is a complicated business with rules and regulations that individuals are required to adhere to. There’s even a royal marriage law about whom the family could marry, because the queen is the head of the Church of England. If Prince Edward renounced the crown because he wanted to marry a divorcee, Wallis Simpson, a divorced Megan Markle should have done better homework. If nothing else, the death of Princess Diana and the controversy surrounding it, should have been all the warning Meghan needed.
Royal life is not a happily-ever-after event. The reality is that the monarchy is not the fantasy that most of us would believe it to be.
Arlene Jones writes a weekly column for our sister publication, the Austin Weekly News.