The Guardian view on Harry and Meghan: heavy is the head that wears the crown | Editorial
The Sussexes show monarchy cannot be relatable while its politics are hidden but its members are conspicuously part of a grouse-shooting, landowning caste
Of royalty, Walter Bagehot wrote in The English Constitution, “we must not let in daylight upon the magic”. To preserve the charm and mystery of the monarchy required its workings to be shielded from the public. In lifting the veil, Prince Harry has spoken of a dysfunctional palace, where more than a whiff of racism lurked and suicidal anguish was dismissed. The interview that the Queen’s grandson and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, gave to their friend Oprah Winfrey painted a picture of a Britain under a thin aristocratic crust that was wreathed in a “toxic atmosphere” in which the Windsors were either willingly or unwillingly trapped. Royal life, the couple said, was stalked by the fear of the tabloid press. These charges cannot be treated lightly. Prince Harry is the ultimate palace insider, with a ringside seat at the royal circus for decades.
The monarchy’s soft power rests upon the great social – and political – pressure not to embarrass the Queen. The royal family has been obliged to protect her interests and shield her from criticism, aware that their fortunes are tied to preserving the monarchy’s hold over people. Prince Harry has broken this rule, and he seems to care little that he has done so. Like his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, he outmanoeuvred the palace because he was willing to bare his soul in public. Princess Diana’s fury with her husband and his betrayals did not threaten “the firm” until she died. The prince has fired a missile from California at the heart of the establishment while very much alive.