Is it “Sweeps Week”? That’s the question with which diarist was struck upon hearing that Harry and Meghan have requested their baby daughter be christened at Windsor Castle. The Sussexes’ last encounter before the public eye, a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in March, is nominated for an Emmy Award. What press firestorm have they now in mind to inflict upon the Royal Family?
Ah, a “tell-all” memoir about growing up Royal, according to the New York Post. “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become,” Harry stated in a press release. “I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story — the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned — I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.”
Harry says he’s “excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.” Reports differ about when different members of the Royal Family first heard of the secret scribblings. Prince Charles is rumored to have been “surprised” at the Page Six shocker, while insiders at Buckingham Palace hint that Harry personally informed the Queen.
It gives new meaning to the term “chutzpah.” As if the Oprah Winfrey interview and the follow-up “chat” with Gayle King weren’t sufficient insult to injury. Harry and Meghan dished on their royal relatives, giving a one-sided account of concerns about son Archie’s skin color and the toil exacted upon his mother. Harry followed it up by criticizing his father’s parenting skills, seemingly thinking that by rationalizing royal life as “prison-like” would atone for airing his laundry before a global audience.
Harry told intimates he wants his daughter baptized in St. George’s Chapel like her brother Archie. Presumably the decision, whether or not young Lillibet is granted a royal christening at Windsor, is the prerogative of the Queen. She should be honored. She was “not present” at her great-grandson’s baptism. In a decision ever so personal, and yet so public, is illustrated the wisdom of Shakespeare’s reflection that “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
For it must never be forgotten that Elizabeth II is — all at once — grandmother, great-grandmother, and Queen. As for maternal instincts, she knows best the sensibilities of her heart. Were it only a question of indulging her namesake, to ask the question is to answer it. It’s hard, though, to ignore Harry and Meghan’s record with the press, not to mention their penchant for lčse-majesté.
It is with her responsibilities as Queen where all the traps are laid for Elizabeth. Am I too cynical to suggest she reflect upon Edmund Burke as she ponders her next steps? Asked his views on the character of the French revolutionary leaders, Burke minced no words.
“When men whom we know to be wicked impose upon us, we are something worse than dupes,” Burke wrote. “When we know them, their fair pretences become new motives for distrust.”
Were the Sussexes intent on signalling peace overtures with the Palace, they singly failed by releasing news of Harry’s memoir on the heels of the christening request. Is there more than a hint that something ominous is afoot? “It would be madness not to give the fullest credit to the most deceitful of men,” Burke warned, “when they make declarations of hostility against us.”
Maybe so. In ensuring that young Lilibet is welcomed into the Church of England amidst her paternal relations overseas, though, I am comforted by the thought that the Queen still has some tricks up her sleeve.