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Will the humans of the British Empire, please stand up? — The Crown by Netflix

Image from Film Daily

‘One-day dear boy, you shall be King’

When Prince of Wales, Charles must have heard these words, he must have fancied a castle in the British countryside overlooking lush green fields till his eyes can see, guards at the door wearing the colonial hats and prestigious uniform, a queen by his side which we all know might not be a very safe ‘royal’ choice and some free-flowing wine. Did he really imagine the duties, criticism and sacrifices that come along with that? Probably not. It is because he has all the luxuries that he can imagine but lacks only one thing — love. And that’s all he desires, that’s all every member of the royal family yearns for from one another. But each of them is so bound by rules and playing by the book that it feels like they have forgotten to emote.

Whether it is the Buckingham Palace or the Windsor Castle or the Highgrove or the numerous royal properties they own from Scotland to France to Australia, inside the walls they are all prisoners of their own rules and fancies. Everything they say is a royal statement, every mistake is a royal mess and a national embarrassment and every achievement a cause for a grand party full of arrangements and decor but less of a heartfelt congratulations.

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around the Royal Family and their ways especially after Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan walked out of the Royal Palace and their royal duties. Also, with the ongoing 4th season of the popular Netflix series known as The Crown dropping on 15th November where they have shown Princess Diana’s journey up until around 1990, people have come together to criticise the archaic and inhuman regulations surrounding someone who gets married to the Royal Family. With numerous other articles, books, news reports and the recent season of The Crown, it is impossible I stop me from writing about a few observations of mine about the Royal household and the people who reside in it.

Here we go!

A World we are not invited to!

Image from Doux Reviews

It is no secret that nothing about the Royal family is inexpensive and petty. Even the smallest of things like the perfume they wear or the crockery they use is bizarrely and outlandishly grand and might cost a fortune. But I am going to focus on the deeper implications of the same rather than the materialistic world they live in.

When Prince of Charles was sent to Wales to learn the language of Welsh before the investiture as Prince of Wales, he had no clue what learning a language would be like. How a language can be a matter of sentiment to a group of people and how much they are attached to it. His reluctant tutor, Edward Millward who was also the vice president of Plaid Cymru, a political party advocating Welsh independence from the United Kingdom did not give Prince Charles a warm welcome. Every Welsh including Edward’s wife who supported the partition of Wales from the UK did not like him teaching their language. To add to that, Prince Charles wasn’t particularly a focused individual who took this challenge seriously in the beginning. One night, while at dinner with the members of the University of Wales, Charles even had no qualms in admitting he knew nothing about Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Prince of Wales before Wales was captured by England. We can call that him being candid and honest but it did raise some Welsh eyebrows especially towards someone who was going to be coronated as the Prince of Wales. So, to point it out, the world of the Royals is posh yet very unaware of the common people around them beyond the walls of their palaces. Perhaps, those are the dark side of being super-rich and wealthy.

In another incident, a painter-decorator named Michael Fagan who has no connections to the Royals decided to just meet the queen and tell her face to face that her country is bleeding with the highest unemployment ever. He was so tired of the bureaucracy and layers of people between the common man and the queen, that he decided to trespass the Buckingham Palace not once but twice. It is in the second attempt that he reached directly to the queen’s bedroom at 7.15 am crossing the 14 feet high walls of the palace and actually striking a conversation with the queen. This can be included as one of those incidents in the Royal history where a common man felt so isolated from the people who call the shots that they had no other option but to trespass.

The world of the Royals is truly far removed from the common people and that’s understandable but the disconnect from the real issues sometimes makes us open our eyes and see that there are many people out there who do not connect with them at all. Is that why the Crown is there? Isn’t the Crown there to protect and advise the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries and the world beyond it?

A conservative approach

Image from The New York Times

A lot has been said about the conservative attitude of the Royal family towards the world and their own family members. The fact that there is a lot of say in what Royal members will wear, say and even marry takes us back a couple of centuries.

When Princess of Wales, Diana (or Princess Di, as lovingly called by admirers) was approached for marriage by Prince of Wales, Charles, she was just a young girl who fell for her prince charming and saw a life together. Little did she know that the Prince will continue to see his lover, Camilla (to who he is now married) whenever he wishes. Camilla and Charles had a wild affair before Charles proposed to his family that he wants to marry Camilla. This did not go down well with his grandma, Queen Elizabeth I and his grandpa-uncle, Lord Mountbatten. Even though his mother did oppose this opposition, but she was convinced later when Camilla came across as confused regarding who she loves. Camilla had her heart for a certain Parker Bowles at the time but later realised that she is actually in love with Charles. But all of this was pretty late to realise because by then both Camilla and Charles were married to their respective partners. However, the society around them was so conservative that they would not even come out of the marriage, they would rather meet at Camilla’s residence at Gloucestershire and continue their affair. The family did not help Charles get Camilla, did not help Charles step away from the royal wedding, did not help Princess Diana in hearing her out, they played by their conservative rules. Perhaps that’s the royal way to be, but it’s definitely conservative and archaic.

This wasn’t the first and last time something like was happening where the family showed absolute stone-cold and harsh reactions to someone who is in love. They turned everything into a royal affair and explained people as to why they are right and everyone else is wrong. When Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip was introduced to the Royal family, even he was an outsider. This was even reiterated by Princess Diana to him in a wonderfully shot scene in the last episode of the series. When Countess of Snowdon, Princess Margaret fell in love with Group Captain, Peter Townsend at the tender age of 22, she received heavy backlash from her family as to why she should not marry a divorcee and how it would bring shame to the family. Even the Church of England refused this union. This broke her heart and released a whole lot of gossip in the media. She finally married a British photographer and filmmaker Antony Armstrong-Jones (lovingly called Tony by her) who was also not particularly loved by her sister and Her Royal Highness but this time, Margaret was in no mood for another refusal.

With all the reports around Duke of Sussex, Harry, we do have all the reasons to believe that even when he wanted to marry Princess of Sussex, Meghan, he received a lot of flak too. But Harry isn’t like his aunt Margaret or like his father Charles. He stood his ground for the lady he loves and went on to marry him. Meghan was half-black, American, once divorced and elder to the Prince — that must have taken quite a lot of convincing but aren’t we all proud of the Prince standing by her in thick and thins! In an interview by journalist Tom Bradby from ITV, Meghan was seen shedding a tear when asked a simple question asking if she is ok. She was seen watery-eyed and confessed — “not many people have asked me if I am ok.’’ She went on to say, “Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” Meghan said in the emotional video. “And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So, you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed.” Later, the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry even lashed out to the media for doing the same intrusion and scrutiny to his wife as was done to his mother which eventually led to her death.

If only the Royal world could have kept their expectations, boundaries and rules a little more relaxed and their approach a little more pragmatic and modern, especially for people joining in from other families, things would have looked different for a lot of people.

Emotional Quotient — Out of office

Image from Elle

When you are busy doing Royal duties, it is really quite difficult to look inside the hearts of your own family. But is it really impossible? While all of us understand that sometimes we can get a bit too harsh to the Royal people, it surely needs to be addressed that each of them in the family is like a cold, dark, island in themselves who only eat their meals together and appear to ceremonies as a family. The unemotional exchanges have made them emote only a little more than the exquisite furniture lying around the palace.

We all know about Princess Alice of Battenberg (also later known as Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark) who was mother to Prince Philip but devoted most of her life to charity work in Athens. At the age of 82, the queen invited her to stay with them in Buckingham Palace after the military rule was imposed in Greece. While Prince Philip was rather unhappy with this decision, the queen was persistent. He was all the more unhappy because there was a documentary that was being filmed inside the palace where the entire family had to behave like a happy bunch. It could have served the purpose of common people identifying with the Royal family and also to know that they also have a lot of work to do inside the palace. Philip’s mother, Princess Alice was also schizophrenic and when she finally arrived, the filmmakers did get a chance to chat with her where she did not say a lot of things considered ‘royal’ making a nightmare come true for the Royals. So, the point is, the pride and the society-pleasing grandeur was so much more important for the family that an ailing 82 years old became less important. Zero emotional quotients.

It's not just Princess Alice, even Prince Charles faced the same when he was a child. He cried his lungs out to take him out of his boarding school, Gordonstoun in North East Scotland which also happens to be his father’s alma mater, the latter’s conviction of making Charles a tough man did not let that happen. Seemed like he never wanted to listen to his own child. Charles described that school as a ‘prison’ and spent some tough years there with their regime rather inhuman for young boys. When Princess Margaret confronted her husband about him having an affair, he did not hide it. When she went on to have her fair share of fun with a certain Roddy who was fixed by her friend Anne, the cameras clicked Roddy applying moisturiser on her bareback in a private beach in the Caribbean where the couple went for a secret holiday. When this appeared in the newspapers, the queen asked her sister to come back immediately and told her how she always brings shame to the family. I have lost count of the number of times the queen has emotionally deserted her sister either by not allowing her to get married to Peter Townsend, or by almost sabotaging her marriage with Tony, or by not giving her enough Royal duties to give meaning to her life or by not recognising her efforts when she toured the US and impressed President Johnson and the entire United States. She was on the receiving end of a cold little heart owned by the queen.

Well, I could go on and on about how emotionally incompatible all the members of the Royal family are with each other. Even Charles and Diana never understood each other and dated different people making things even more complicated between them. With so much riches, palaces, properties, titles and grandeur, the emotions took a backseat. It seemed like you would need the Queen’s permission to even cry in the Royal scheme of things!

How to break the glass ceiling?

Image from Hello!

So, the question is — how to break the glass ceiling and who will do it? I think it's not an overnight process. Plus, I am also not saying they have only pushed the country to a dark abyss but my point is wholly on the whole colonial approach that may be too dated for the world outside and must change for anyone coming into their family.

What also bothers me is the hypocrisy that runs in the family. On one hand, they insist their children must marry someone of their choice, they must not divorce, they should sacrifice in the name of the Crown, they put Diana and Meghan through a Royal test of the history of their family, they deleted Meghan’s Instagram account in the name of Royal rules, but the same members of the family are seen enjoying escort services, Philip’s best friend was a part of a ‘Gentleman’s Club’ which I don’t need to explain was famous for what, Charles had an extramarital affair throughout, Margaret was an alcoholic who couldn't put herself together in the public eye and the list goes on.

But what gives us hope is the rebellion that some of the members and some outsiders have shown. Whether it’s Princess Margaret’s decision of marrying Tony or Princess Diana’s ‘unroyal’ behaviour which people loved or it is Princess Meghan’s decision of walking away from Royal duties and Prince Harry supporting her in it. Small steps like this will ensure that we see a change in the twisted and strange world that exists beyond those walls in London. All we can do is click some nice pictures outside of it and wonder, which heart are they currently breaking as of now?

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