It’s churlish not to wish Harry and Meghan well – Angus Robertson

The decision by Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to step back from their royal duties may lead to a debate about a smaller civil list, writes Angus Robertson.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 11:40 am
Harry and Meghan's decision would appear to stem from a great deal of personal unhappiness and desire for change. Picture: PA

The Prince Harry and Meghan story continues to dominate the headlines, as does the reaction of the British royal family to their request for a more private life.

Like most people in this country, it is impossible to understand all of the background, given it largely rests on anonymous press briefings. Reading some media reports it is pretty transparent that much of what constitutes “news” is mere tittle tattle. When one has been able to hear from Harry and Meghan directly, it is beyond misunderstanding that their decision follows a great deal of personal unhappiness and desire for change. Unsurprisingly the public sympathises with that.

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Despite its many material advantages, life in the gilded royal cage comes with many big personal challenges. Intolerable media intrusion and barely concealed racism about Meghan Markle has clearly taken its toll. It is entirely understandable that they seek a different future.

Other northern European Royal families have moved with the times, with smaller royal households, reduced income and spending and extended family members not paid from the civil list. In Norway, for example, the Royal House comprises only the King and Queen, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their oldest daughter. The wider royal family comprises only eight further members. Princess Martha Louise, who was previously second in line to the throne, is now a full-time businesswoman with few official public engagements and no longer uses the title ‘Royal Highness’.

No doubt there will be questions about how a similar transition will work for Harry and Meghan. Regardless of the wider debate about the future of the monarchy it would be churlish to not wish them and their own family well.