Explain something to me.
Who gives one flying crap about Ex-Prince Harry and Ex-C-List Actress and Princess-for-5-minutes Meghan Markle?
I mean, OK, I get why British folks would care. Here's this uber millennial who grows up royal, dips his quill in the global mainstream pool, likes it, marries a starlet (kinda), then abandons his legacy and birthright (and country) to go live the Suite Life of Meg and Harry in the Colonies. I would be peeved too, if I were from the UK.
But I would like to think that if I were from the UK, I would be peeved for a hot minute, and then these young a-holes would be dead to me. As long as my tax dollars weren't supporting them anymore in their little vision quest, God bless 'em and don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
But what about the rest of the world?
According to the Los Angeles Times, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are settling into life in Los Angeles, have signed on with the New York-based Harry Walker Agency for speaking engagements, according to a person familiar with their plans." Well...first of all: No.
No, they aren't the Duke and Duchess of Jack Squat anymore, are they? And if they are, why? And if they are not, then second of all: What is it they think people will pay them to talk about?
Good question, as it turns out! According to the article they will speak on "social issues such as racial justice...gender equity and environmental concerns. They will also speak on mental health."
Now let's just gather our thoughts for a moment. I want to make sure we're all on the same page of the hymnal here. By securing representation the couple is making themselves available for people and organizations to pay them to speak about these things. It's not like they are, say, a royal couple, owned lock, stock and barrel by the general population of Great Britain and dedicated to public service which at times manifests itself as public talks about social, environmental and even political issues of mutual interest to them and the populace.
No, they are a private sector couple, formerly royals and public servants, who have opinions (which, as we have learned, are like assholes - we all have 'em!) for which they expect remuneration. Right? I just want to be sure that's what's up, before moving on.
Assuming we're all able to stipulate to this rendering of the facts of the case, I am left with really only one question, which is, "Why?"
America is a place where celebrity is often confused with importance, and Los Angeles is by all accounts the capital of the celebrity universe. In that context I shouldn't be surprised but I confess I am, mightily. Meghan Markle is a biracial actress who married a prince. And then divorced his nation. And now wants to be a commercial enterprise, individually and in tandem with her ginger honey. In what universe does that qualify her to speak on racial justice?
I remember I was teaching a college entrepreneurship course many years ago, during the George W presidency, and one of the students - an older, African american woman I loved because she always engaged with the material and spoke her mind - said, "He's not my president." I asked her, "Well what country do you live in?" In the conversation that ensued, I learned that not only was W not her duly elected representative, but that Condoleeza Rice and General Colin Powell were firmly on the "them" team as well. Despite their racial makeup and whatever life stories they had endured up until that moment, they were not "her people."
I cringe to think what she would have to say about Meghan Markle!
Now I realize I am treading on dangerous ground here. I am white, and the product of white privilege, and I don't know her story. I don't know what she endured to climb the Hollywood ladder and succeed in making it to, like, a third of the way up. I can't fathom the whispered taunts of the palace staff while she was cloistered in jolly old England, or how those foppish whispers wounded her then and revisit her to this day like Scrooge's three ghosts.
Fair point. I'm just saying: Who cares? Is she a role model of some sort? Has she overcome insurmountable odds to achieve something extraordinary? I don't think so. Does she have some interesting anecdotes? Sure, probably. I would buy her and Harry a beer and likely enjoy their company in an airport lounge while our flights were delayed, but we're talking about making a living through the speakers' fees and endorsements of companies and advertisers and non-profit organizations who want to hear them - want to know what wisdom they have to share.
Wisdom about racial justice. And gender equity, which I think is code for, "I am not just a princess, I am a human being!" And environmental concerns. (The environment is important, we should definitely remember that.)
About the only thing I would be interested in paying to hear them address is mental health, but I would want to wait about five years. Let's push pause on this Power Couple and move on with our lives, let them move on with theirs. And in five years or so, sell me admission to a TED talk where Harry dishes about how he was weak and self-absorbed; how he let himself be blinded and misled by the lure of fast money and beautiful women. How he thought he could make a bigger, more important impact on the world by serving capitalism and irrational exuberance instead of serving his constituents.
I would be interested to hear about his journey from royalty to celebrity to desperation and, finally, humility. Does it include drugs? Therapy? A trip to Burning Man? Does he think his mum is looking down at him from heaven? Is she proud?
I love a good comeback; we all do. Save me a seat at that one. I'll pass on the rest.