Scorched Windsor: Avenging Lady Diana Spencer

This article discusses the recent interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Harry Windsor-Mountbatten and Meghan Markle and their reasons to resign as senior working royals. This article also discusses suicide ideation.

Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales with Prince Harry.

The interview of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was rife speculation. Three thirty-second interview teasers sent the media the royal household into an apoplectic frenzy. Buckingham Palace launched a full-scale character assassination offensive, opening an investigation into bullying allegations from 2018. Buckingham Palace eagerly commented on its investigation into these claims, yet we still receive “no comment” regarding Prince Andrew. After weeks of conjecture, myself and most people believed that the interview would be anti-climatic, the Sussexes would discuss their charity work, and as a famous Englishman once said, “much ado about nothing.”

Never have I been more woefully incorrect in my life. Like the game of battleship, armed with incendiaries detailing abuse, racism, suicide ideation, and at best woeful negligence in the lack of protection, at worse intentionally placing the Sussex family in a position of harm; Meghan and Harry revealed the pain and anguish they experienced as senior working members of the royal family.

For all of the tabloid press and attention that’s circulating around the world, and yes, this interview is set to broadcast in sixty-eight countries, it’s important to remember that at the heart of this are three individuals, three human beings. One was so distressed that she couldn’t be left alone for fear of self-harm, another was born into a toxic family that’s proving its anachronisms, many that led to the grotesque treatment and premature death of his mother, and the last is a child that allegedly wasn’t granted a title and security because he’d fail a brown paper bag test. Breaking with precedent enshrined in law a century ago, and custom dating back centuries, the Palace allegedly sought to strip Archie of title because of his at best quarter negroid blood quotient.

It’s always great to see how the proximity to Blackness, perceived or actual, and in Archie’s case without physical manifestation nor independent corporal existence, will render you less than. Like the Coronavirus, we love to see it.

Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Oprah interview.

For all of the comparisons to the Martin Bashir interview twenty-six years earlier, this was not a “bombshell” interview. It was annihilation. In no uncertain terms it shows the unapologetic cruelty of the monarchy and its inability or steadfast unwillingness to learn from past mistakes. May we never forget that two young boys were forced to walk behind their dead mother’s coffin, in front of billions around the world, for public relations. According to Diana: 7 Days that Shook the World, Prince Charles had to convince Queen Elizabeth to use the royal plane to retrieve Diana’s body and bring her back to England. What would be the alternative for the former wife to the heir apparent and mother of a future king? A Tesco lorry?

We know the acrimony between Diana Spencer and the Windsors was palpable. We know she arguably crossed the line. But she was also a nineteen year old who was brought into an institution that she didn’t fully understand. An institution that didn’t guide her or care for her. An institution that facilitated an affair between her husband and his current wife — the only person in his life Prince Charles seems to have ever fought for. An institution that stripped her of royal title, threw her to the wolves and humiliated her. Diana was upset.

And this may give offense, but we can no longer absolve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of responsibility. You’re either head of the firm or you’re not — and I suspect the latter. Even at her sharpest, she’s still a ninety-four year old woman, with a ninety-nine year old husband. Take Monday morning when details of the interview were released. Her Majesty was “briefed” on what was said. Why couldn’t someone record it for her so she could watch it herself? Given the magnitude of what is happening, why would any head of state not want to see what’s being broadcast about their family to sixty-eight countries around the globe?

I understand that the Duke and Duchess went to great lengths to stress how close they are with the Queen, which in my opinion is both truth and strategy. If you’re going up against an institution that dates back to William the Conqueror, you’ll need an ally.

But if Her Majesty is surrounded by cannibalistic vultures, who repeatedly watched after vicious and inaccurate reports of Meghan were fed to tabloids for fun and spite; when we learn it was actually the Duchess of Cambridge who made Meghan cry and not the other way around (which she has proof of in the apology note she received); and no one is there defending you — we must question the leadership of that institution. We must question the institution. Meghan argued that her actor’s union gave her more protection than an institution that broke away from the once almighty Catholic Church. Shoutout to the Screen Actors Guild.

Queen Elizabeth with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Delving further into support and lack thereof, let’s discuss the finances and mental health of the individuals involved. Not to flog a dead horse, but note that His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York is privately funded by Queen Elizabeth. Andy can’t make a LinkedIn profile? Conversely, Harry and Meghan were cut off. Now, the Sussexes are millionaires and this is a pandemic, but it was heartbreaking to hear Harry say how focused he was for income for the security needed to protect his family. Thanking Diana’s clairvoyance, she knew her boys may need an escape plan. The People’s Princess lives.

Moreso, Meghan discusses suicidal ideation and alleges the palace disturbingly refused her pleas for help. “Stiff upper lip” they said, “we’ve all been through it.” First, those belittling Meghan’s lethal thoughts because she cried inside a palace, I give you: Kate Spade; Robin Williams; Caroline Flack; Lucy Gordon; and Alexander McQueen. Privileged people can have suicide ideation and some act upon it. A point disseminated throughout social media today: Meghan and Harry won’t see you dismissing their mental distress, but your friends with identifying tendencies will.

What’s troubling about this allegation is not only that palace officials potentially shrugged their shoulders and refused to call her a therapist, but also the fact that William, Kate, Meghan and Harry championed mental health, specifically their “Heads Together” campaign. I always suspected that the true motivation for their interest was the insensitivity towards Diana’s mental health struggles. If these allegations prove true, the mental health campaigning is nothing more than a facade to augment and sustain privilege in society. In the end, it was one of Diana’s friends who guided and comforted the couple. The People’s Princess strikes once more.

Conscious or otherwise, I know as a Black woman people don’t see us as full human beings. We are unworthy of protection. Studies repeatedly show that Black women are not viewed as victims, we are unlikely to be believed when faced with violence, and we’re more likely to die in childbirth as we cry for help. Black children receive less medicine in emergency rooms because physicians dismiss their tears. The fact that Piers Morgan felt comfortable enough to belittle Meghan’s allegations on national television, while ITV runs a campaign for mental health, shows how unvalued Black women are.* He never would’ve done that to Kate Middleton. Zora Neal Hurston taught us “[i]f you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” Harry wasn’t letting Meghan die with a fake smile plastered on her face, with faux indignation and sympathy to follow. For that I respect them both.

And so the opinions roll in from across the globe. I know some members of the British media and public think they’re intellectually superior to Americans, and as such will be more “critical” of this interview. The elitism of that is laughable, particularly when the likes of Nigel Farage and Lawrence Fox have space in public life.

I repeatedly read how “sympathetic” Oprah was to the couple, because in some brains, a heavily pregnant woman and her PTSD-suffering husband should be subject to an interrogation rivaling the 9–11 Commission. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the glaring difference in response between the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and their counterparts, as well as people over and under certain age demographics. On International Women’s Day no less, Charlene White sat with exquisite poise cross from her Loose Women colleague who asked if inquiring about Archie’s pigmentation was simply “casual racism.” For the record, both black-tie racism and summer dress racism will kill you.

For those who yelled “Black Lives Matter” and posted black squares in the summer of 2020, here’s a tip for your supposed allyship — when people tell you they’re in pain, believe them. Stop asking them to show you the wound; open your eyes and find it yourself.

Americans are attracted to our fellow countrywoman, the David vs. Goliath element that compounds with a culture of rooting for the underdog — who inarguably is Meghan. More than anything, most of us from across the pond saw and remember how mercilessly Diana was treated by the British press quite literally until the day she died. Unprotected. The fact that then new Prime Minister Tony Blair had to call Queen Elizabeth and strongly advise her to make a statement speaks volumes. After a near catastrophic course, they shifted gears and shoved two grieving children in front of crowds and forced them to shake hands in front of the very cameras that caused their mother’s death. The cruel irony.

Prince William and Prince Harry. The funeral procession of Diana Spencer, 1997.

Were Americans excited to have an American marry into the royal family? Absolutely. After all that’s happened, we’re now thankful to have our princess alive and home. Given what she’s shared with us, it was possible that wouldn’t be the case. Meghan and Harry concluded their interview declaring despite it all, they received a fairytale ending. Serendipitously or otherwise, of all the women Harry chose, it was one born and raised within fifteen miles of Malibu, California — a place Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales was preparing to purchase property on the day she died. It was her money that allowed them to live this reality. There’s a painful yet beautiful poetry in that.

I don’t know what’s next for the monarchy. Like Diana’s Martin Bashir interview, the damage is done. Britain’s global reputation is tarnished. We’re all staring at an institution that lied to protect certain family members, but refused to correct falsehoods about others. At the risk of belaboring the point, we’re still waiting on Prince Andrew to speak with the FBI. My British republican friends shouldn’t get too excited; the monarchy isn’t going anywhere just yet. But the cracks can no longer be papered over.

At the time of publication, Buckingham Palace release the following statement:

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

That’s the furthest they could deviate from, “never complain, never explain.” This may sustain them. It may cement Queen Elizabeth being the last reigning monarch.

Time will tell.

  • As this was published, ITV announced that Piers Morgan would leave Good Morning Britain.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. Photo by Misan Harriman.

These are my reflections on this journey of life and how (sometimes) we can navigate it better. With candor, love and humo(u)r.

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