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New life for the young royals

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The decision by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to move away from their royal duties and chart their own independent paths in life has reverberated throughout the globe. Their unexpected announcement early this month shocked the world. It was a bombshell even for Buckingham Palace. The Queen said this much—that the palace did not see the decision of the young couple coming. It had not been discussed at the palace before their statement was issued for public consumption. Not only was the decision greeted with disbelief because of its unprecedentedness, as some palace watchers and historians would like to claim, but the decision was assailed with all manner of speculations.

The consternation was all the more hard-hitting because the world, and particularly the British, did not see any reason for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan to “step back from” their royal duties. The British love their Queen. Because she carries herself with such queenly and effulgent dignity, hardly does the world remember there are Queens in some other countries. Once the word Queen is mentioned, the mind races to no other one than the Queen of England. It was thus not surprising during the referendum in Britain on the independence of Scotland that a Scottish woman said if only for her to be seeing the picture of the Queen on the currency and coins, Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom. In the end she voted against Scotland tearing away from the United Kingdom. On the lips of a great many is why should Harry and Meghan elect to walk away from a life of luxury, opulence, splendor, glitters and being in public glare and consciousness at no cost whatsoever to them. They have everything going for them. Helpers, children’s minders are at their beck and call. Horses are in the stable; security and tours are guaranteed, all at taxpayers’ expense.

Their families rejected the idea; Prince Charles, Prince Harry’s father was livid, and it was not until Saturday that the Queen decided to live with what appeared to be the couple’s’ irreversible decision and choice. And listen to Thomas Markle, Duchess Meghan’s father: “When they got married, they took on an obligation, and the obligation is to be part of royals and to represent the royals. This is one of the greatest long-living institutions ever. They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, making it shabby—they shouldn’t be doing this.” He was reported to have told British Sky News further that his daughter and her husband are “lost souls who are turning the House of Windsor into a Wall mart with a crown on.” Meghan’s half sister was no less severe. She said: “From my perception, I feel she did enjoy it when there was fab four and the photographs of her hair blowing in the wind and the contrived British accent. But when the public (began) to criticize the behavior and expenditure, the tune changed and it became a bit more attribution error, avoiding accountability, flipping the script.” However, the couple is unyielding in their resolve.

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British Independent newspaper reported Prince Harry as saying it brings him “great sadness” to step back from his royal duties—but “there really was no other option.” Speaking at a charity dinner for children with HIV under the auspices of Sentebale, a charity organisation he co-founded with a Lesotho prince in 2006, according to the British Guardian, he had found the “love and happiness I had hoped for all my life with Meghan,” and taking a step back from royal duties was what he had to do “to take forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.” The newspaper reports him as further saying that he was speaking “not as a prince, or a duke, but as Harry. “Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations without public funding. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible.” He said Britain would remain his home and place that he loves, describing the Queen as “my grandmother, my commander in chief” for whom he has the “utmost respect.”

The Queen summoned a crisis meeting at the weekend. On her part at the end of it, she said in a moving statement on Saturday that she was pleased that “together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.” On Tuesday, Prince Harry jetted out to Canada to join his family who had arrived in their new home 10 days earlier.

What really are the royal duties from which the couple has stepped back as Senior Royals? A hint of it was displayed last week Thursday, and that was addressing charities and representing the Queen at events. Last week, he met to greet school children who had gathered at Buckingham Palace as rugby players. He was later to host the draws for 2021 rugby League World Cup. He also met with representatives of 21 countries set to play in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments which will be held next simultaneously in 17 UK cities. As Prince Harry was reported to have explained, the tournament would be the first major international sporting event which would feature a mental fitness activity, targeting the mental fitness of players, coaches, fans, and communities hosting the matches. It is said it also would involve workshops for 8,000 young players and their families who will be expected to look after their own mental fitness and support others to do likewise.

Many are likely to ask: Is that all? These are what the young couple is running away from. Prince Harry took over from the Queen as patron of Rugby Football League in 2016. Millions will undoubtedly wish to be in their shoes, to live a life of ease, learn to smile, wave at people lining their route and waving flags. Many a man would consider their action as foolish. As exciting as these may be, they do not find them fulfilling. There are still gaps they believe they have to fill.

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Since it is their choice to become ordinary human beings, they have to pay a heavy price for electing to climb down from the Olympian heights. They are to refund $3.1million (US dollars) of taxpayers’ money they spent on renovating their home close to Windsor Castle. They will no longer be addressed with the title of Royal Highness, although Harry, of course, will remain a prince who is sixth in line to the British Throne. They will be known simply as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. These are the deals they sealed with the Queen. The British tabloids, as they are wont to do, screamed: “Payback Time”; “The Price of Megexit” and “Freedom at a Price.” To a great many, to walk out of life of glamour is unbelievable. What’s more: Prince Harry and Meghan are to look for jobs in their new destination. Meghan is said to have signed a voiceover job with Disney, but it is said the pay is peanut. She has been spotted driving herself in Canada.

Prime Minister Trudeau was alarmed at their coming to his country for reasons of security costs. He already said Canada does not have the humongous sum of an equivalent of 100 million Pounds sterling to cater for their security. In spite of that Prince Harry said the couple had decided to seek their own financial independence. Here is a prince with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. What is it they are looking for that they are plunging into the world of uncertainties? The couple has bought an apartment. But in the event they decide not to live in Victoria on Vancouver Islands where the apartment is, they will look for a place to rent. Theirs is a brave new world, indeed. What is driving Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, a strange young couple who has the world like oyster standing at their feet, and yet obviously do not feel fulfilled? Before an answer is proffered, I hasten to say that this is not the first time a member of the royal family would exhibit a streak of rebellion or of wanting to change the status quo.

Harry can be said to be, in a way, a chip off his old man, Prince Charles. The elder prince himself once stirred the hornet’s nest, and I doubt if the matter, so fundamental to the throne has been resolved. In an article in 1994 captioned “Prince Charles stirs the hornet’s nest,” this column wrote as follows— just three paragraphs for today—: “Once again, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, has stirred the hornet’s nest. But it is doubtful if, this time, he can get away with it without a deep scratch. By no chance is Prince Charming talking to the plants again, nor is he quarrelling that the good old fashioned architecture, which he prefers, is dying, yielding way to plastic glass houses. He has also not embarked on his campaign for organic farming which, to the discomfiture of industry, has no compliments for fertilizer use on the farms. The prince is not disturbing modern medicine and its disciples either with clamour for alternative medicine.

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“These were preoccupations which have earned him the most contemptuous of poison pens and rough tongues in many circles. Rather than affirm his unshakeable faith in age-old traditions, he set about dismantling them, starting where it most matters and where it most should hurt. Ascension to the British Crown has, since the time of Henry VIII, been predicated on the King or the Queen of England being the ‘Head of the Church of England’ and ‘the Defender of the (Protestant) Faith.’ It all arose from the dispute of Henry VIII with the Pope and the Catholic Church. Before this rift, the Pope in 1521 had appointed Henry VIII the first ‘defender of the faith.’ But when 10 years later in 1931, Henry sought a divorce but the pope declined, making the king risk expulsion from the Roman Catholic Church and the loss of his title if he unilaterally went ahead, the king chose to have his way. And he followed this up by declaring himself ‘sole protector of and supreme head of the English Church and clergy’. The Act of Parliament of 1701 was to ratify this rebellion as it were and compel whoever would wear the English crown to be a communicant member of the Church of England. It could, therefore, not be a mean job that Prince Charles threw to the British Establishment that he announced that if and when he became King of England he would not be ‘the defender of faith.’

“Remembering that it is anathema under the present circumstances for a British monarch to be married to a Roman catholic, Prince Charles threw another potshot when he said that in his world view, it would be ‘absurd’ for a monarch to be prevented from marrying a Roman Catholic since all subjects, no matter their faith, should stand equal before their King.”

Whether it is coming from Prince Charles or Prince Harry, what it all demonstrates is that the human spirit cannot be caged. It will always seek its freedom. It may be repressed, but it cannot endure. Obviously, although Harry has climbed to the top of rank privileges and material wealth and has the power of the purse to brandish if he so wished, he and his wife have chosen to walk down the slope of the mountain, to the bottom of the valley as Richard Nixon was to describe his fall as United States President. It is obvious they are seeking something which appears to me to be content, substance, in their souls—away from what, to an awakened spirit, as ephemeralities. It would appear they feel choked by something that is not compatible with their longing for the sublime. As a result, there is overpowering restlessness for that which is higher.

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They clearly have reservations about life. And it is he who has reservations about life that seeks, and it is he who seeks that finds. It would appear to me that they want to know what the meaning of life is. There are deeper meanings of life. That the world is in the chaos staring us in the face today is proof that mankind is far from finding the meanings despite helps frequently sent over millennia to open our eyes and souls to what life is all about. It must bear restating that life on earth is a school and it is a picture we may all consider to grapple with at all times. It is in this concept that we will find what is expected of us, what we must master, what the curriculum says before we can graduate. The school cannot be the home as deaths have demonstrated time and again. Home is far away in the heavens and in the picture we see the Almighty Creator far, far away from the heavens.

Since everyone chooses his parents, the environment and the earthly circumstances of his birth consistent with class he has reached and degree of instruction internalised, it can be seen that Prince Harry being born where he was obliged to be born and Meghan marrying into the royal family are not accidents. They were drawn into the family by the quality of their souls. But there is still a lot more, apparently they have to master in order to successfully graduate, hence their unconscious, yet deliberate decision to plunge into the new uncharted world for further experiencing and learn lessons and gather knowledge which will make them unfold their talents and unfurl their wings to soar into a fulfilling earth life and life hereafter. Part of the accruals of the struggle of life, of grappling with the influences assailing the soul through radiation threads, is that the spirit comes to the recognition of the Will of the Creator as severally pointed out by the various Teachers of mankind and the Prophets, and then the Envoys of God themselves all of whom came at different times as mankind moved from one class to another.

Challenges and travails make us to break open from within; to ask questions. No wonder, despite the consternation into which the young couple has thrown the world with their bombshell of moving away to develop their own strength and build their own independent financial muscle, they are in the least perturbed. It is a new lease of life for the young royals, indeed, deserving of celebration. We must salute their courage and strength of convictions that all that glitters is not all the time gold after all.

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