Dangling Man: Harry Awaits Parley With Grandmother

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What young man doesn’t dread confronting an irate grandmother? What, though, if you are Prince Harry and your grandmother is Elizabeth II? The New York Post reports that Harry has been summoned to Buckingham Palace to account for a video filmed with his wife, Meghan Markle, calling for voter participation in America’s November elections.

It’s unclear exactly when this meeting might take place, while the Palace muses what to do with the errant couple. Members of the Royal Family do not meddle in politics, particularly those of a foreign nation. The Queen, as head of “The Firm,” bears familial responsibility no less than she does as Britain’s Head of State.

The Sussexes’ international faux pas was ratcheted up when a Republican congressman, Jason Smith, wrote the British ambassador in Washington to complain of the Duke and Duchess’s actions “regarding the United States Presidential Election, especially given international conversations surrounding foreign interference in our elections and the Duke’s status as a guest” in America.

Mr. Smith asks Britain’s government to “ensure” that the royal couple “no longer attempt to interfere in our election.” The Missouri solon suggests they be “stripped of all titles, styles, and privileges which they currently retain.” He also requests the matter be raised with the Queen.

Harry and Meghan lost the privilege of prefixing their names with His or Her Royal Highness when they ceased being “working” royals at the beginning of the year, but retained the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Is this all too much for any constitutional monarch to bear? Last year ended with Parliament in an uproar over the kingdom’s exit from the European Union. When the Queen prorogued Parliament for a reset on the advice of her new prime minister, Boris Johnson, the Supreme Court had the presumption to nullify her command and call Westminster back into session.

Whatever hopes Elizabeth entertained for 2020 were dashed with her government’s inept response to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions were furloughed from jobs that may never return and reciprocal costs are rising toward £1 trillion that may precipitate tax hikes and cost-cutting.

Meanwhile in June, the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, turned 99 in declining health. The Queen, five years his junior, must be concerned daily with her own health. Now this brouhaha with Harry. Does any monarch deserve two anni horribiles in one reign, let alone one as beloved as Elizabeth?

For there is more than that year, 1992 — the year of royal divorces and the fire at Windsor Castle — to remember. There is also 1936, the year that “Uncle David,” Edward VIII to the rest of us, gave up the throne to marry the two-time divorcee in love with whom he’d fallen. His abdication made Elizabeth’s father the reluctant King, a burden that brought about his premature death.

It’s hard to imagine that these burdens don’t trouble Her Majesty, though the public may never learn what Grandmother and Grandson discussed. By all accounts he is devoted to his grandmother, and yet, if that is so, it’s hard to understand what his decamping to America is all about in the first place.

If all else fails, Elizabeth at least has a friend in the White House. President Trump is an avowed admirer. He even shrugged off Harry and Meghan’s veiled Democratic endorsement, acknowledging her public animus against him by wishing Harry “a lot of luck” with his marriage, saying “he’s going to need it.”

Which gives rise to a certain irony for astute royals. Were the parties reversed, Vice President Biden and the rest of the left-progressive Democrats would be in high dudgeon. So all eyes will be on the Queen, who, whatever else can be said about her, is a master of tact. “Tact does not remove difficulties,” Benjamin Disraeli wrote in “Tancred,” “but difficulties melt away under tact.”


Mr. MacLean writes the Brexit Diary for the Sun.

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