One more scandal is infuriating the British royal family. The unthinkable, unaccepted, unimaginable has happened. “Never complain, never explain” is the dictum of the House of Windsor for the 19th and 20th centuries, but it always seems to happen.
A new book, Finding Freedom, written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, is the latest foray of British royals into the minefield of royal privacy.
While generating sensational headlines and minute details, Harry and Meghan, duke and duchess of Sussex, insist they offered no contribution to the authors, but doubt remains.
Harry has been a “naughty royal” during his bachelor days, but since his marriage, the sad young boy walking behind his mother’s casket, has finally found his “forever after”, until Meghan moved in with the Royal Family. Meghan is of mixed parentage and in racist Britain this spells trouble.
That is exactly what happened. Was she welcomed with opened arms by the family, the media, the press? Her newborn was compared to a monkey on TV, it was more than the young couple could bear.
Seeking acceptance away from the royals, their exit was dubbed Megxit.
Prince Andrew’s wife, divorce, illicit affairs, not forgotten.
Why are we so addicted to those British royals as though they have a monopoly on royalty?
There are 26 royal families left after the dissolution of most of the world’s monarchies, following both world wars, but the charm of those naughty Brits is the magnet.
Despite their lofty titles and bejewelled crowns, we are almost relieved to discover they are human. Celebrities rather than royals, they are seldom off the headlines. Tourists rush in.
The word “naughty” was first used by Marion Crawford, better known as Crawfie in her book, The Little Princesses. 1950. Crawfie was the royal nanny for 17 years (1936-1947), before Prince Albert took over the throne.
“Once upon a time in England there were two little princesses, Elisabeth and Margaret Rose.” The nanny goes on describing Princess Margaret as “often naughty”.
What an apt description, which could apply to almost all British royalty, going as far back as 1509 and the notorious Henry VIII.
Most of us know more or less about the eccentricities of the large and lusty king who was the subject of several books and movies. Unable to receive permission from the pope to divorce and remarry, he broke off from the Catholic Church and created his own.
He established the Church of England which still exists to this day, with the Sovereign as its head.
The second wife had worse luck than the first.
Anne Boleyn was executed, and so was another of his six wives.
If that is not “naughty” in royal terms, what is?
Divorce became worse than death.
Did he set an example for British monarchy?
His daughter, Queen Elisabeth I was as ruthless.
Charles I was beheaded, creating the first republic in England in 1649, long before the French or American revolutions, at the hands of Oliver Cromwell.
With an undeniable penchant for a monarch and Charles II ascended the throne again.
At least three of the Six Georges in their history were tyrannical, mad, indecent and tarnished.
The prudish Queen Victoria also had her foibles. Bereaved and widowed after the death of Prince Albert she retired to an estate in Scotland and fell in love with one of her servants, John Brown. She was devastated when he died and erected a statue for him. She requested to be buried with a lock of his hair, his photo and a ring he had given her.
The forgotten duke of Kent is worth a mention. Cousin to Queen Elisabeth II, he was not only a womaniser but addicted to drugs, morphine and cocaine. His death in a plane crash is rumoured to have been orchestrated to save the family further embarrassment.
Margaret was a true victim of the stiff traditions of the royals after her uncle Edward Vlll was banished from Britain, for abdicating the throne to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
Margaret lived a miserable life of drinking and partying after being forced to marry a humble photographer, Antony Armstrong, later lord Snowdon.
Giving up the love of her life, Captain Peter Townsend, because he was divorced, ruined her. She hated her husband and the rigid Queen Elisabeth was obliged to grant them a divorce, the first in the Royal Family, since Henry VIII.
That dirty term, divorce, haunted most of her children.
It was a high price to pay for her austere behaviour with her uncle and her sister.
Her firstborn Prince Charles, fell in love with a married woman Camilla Knowles. Forced into a marriage with the proper candidate, Princess Diana became the most beloved member of the royals. The whole world admired her except her husband who continued to frequent Camilla.
She admitted to the press, “there were three in the marriage.”
It was intolerable, forcing her to seek comfort elsewhere. Worst of all she committed the cardinal sin of spilling all to the press.
Her association with Egyptian millionaire Fayed was the last straw. The idea of Egyptian children was inconceivable.
Speculation remains that her death in a car crash was no accident.
What will happen to ‘Bonnie Prince Harry” after the publication of Finding Freedom.
Will Harry find happiness with his wife and still maintain his royal status?
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 August, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly