AMID all the issues grabbing headlines these days – from Taal Volcano’s fury to the crisis between Tehran and Washington, we read of a different issue-grabbing headline in the United Kingdom (and other parts of its realm) – that Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and second son of the Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana Spencer, has decided to give his royal titles and even to pay back the over £2Million that was spent by the Sovereign Fund in refurbishing the house he and his wife Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, had chosen after their wedding.
Harry and Meghan (which is how we could call them, I suppose, now that they’re no longer “royal”) have done what very few people would do in their shoes – shun the glitz and glamour of being a “royal” and choose to be “ordinary” citizens – at least to the extent that this would be possible for a son of Diana Spencer and for an American actress.
But it seems they’ve done it because they are unwilling to take what comes with the glitz and glamour – the 24/7 public attention to their every move or gesture , every word spoken or unspoken, every piece of clothing they wear, every engagement they get involved in.
It’s not only that the burden of being under the spotlight 24/7 can be unbearable; it’s also that, apparently, the media has been treating Harry and Meghan differently from the way they’re treating Prince William and Princess Kate.
What makes things really worse is this — there seems to be some underlying racism in the coverage given to Markle.
Parts of British society, it seems, cannot forget that Harry married a divorcee (first strike) who happens to be of mixed race (second, third and fourth strikes). As any Filipino who jokes about “Intsik beho “ or who makes reference to “5-6” should know, racism remains a reality even in the year 2020. It’s part of human nature I suppose. There’s no denying that.
That it is striking at the heart of the British Monarchy is what is making the issue front and center in the UK and in many other parts of the realm.
On a deeper level the issue should give us pause as we consider what circumstance could make us give up the “privileges” in life that we enjoy at the moment. Is there an issue which could make you turn your back on everything you are enjoying, giving it up like Harry is giving his royal titles or like the way his great grand uncle Edward VIII gave up the throne – which is what paved the way to the lineage of Harry’s “inheriting” the royal titles.
Is there a principle you hold dear in life that, once crossed, will cause you to cry foul and walk away? Walk away from a marriage, for example. Or a business partnership. Give up a high paying job maybe. Or even give up the material things in life and live the life of a recluse?
I know mine, and on at least three occasions in my life I’ve turned my back on my own version of “royal comforts” after much soul searching. The transition was difficult, the doubts about the wisdom of my moves were always there, but I’ve emerged whole and in many respects happier.
May Harry and Meghan, my erstwhile “royal” cousins, end up the same way.