While Tom Sykes (the Royalist columnist at the Daily Beast) absolutely has an anti-Sussex bent, I actually think Sykes is one of the few royal reporters to actually get it right on what was happening behind-the-scenes this week with Princess Lilibet and Prince Archie’s titles. Archie and Lilibet have been prince and princess since September of last year, the very moment their grandfather became king, per the Letters Patent. Instead of referring to the kids with their titles, Buckingham Palace made a point of merely updating the titles of Prince William’s kids in the line of succession, while leaving King Charles’s mixed-race grandchildren without their birthright prince/princess titles. That changed when the Sussexes announced Lilibet’s christening and announced her title to People Magazine. Within 24 hours, the palace changed the line of succession to reflect the title change and the palace openly briefed reporters on how they had already been informed, of course, and it was all to do with the Frogmore eviction or something. Sykes points out that the palace was actually caught off-guard and then some:
What happened after the Sussexes’ announcement: After an hour of two of startled silence, the royal rabbit removed itself from Harry and Meghan’s headlights, and journalists were briefed that the palace had no issue with the move and had, indeed, been expecting it all along and would shortly be updating their website to reflect the new titles, and that the hold-up had only been a matter of Harry and Meghan getting on and announcing it.
Caught off guard: Harry and Meghan said in a statement that the decision to use Lilibet’s princely title was “settled in alignment” (note: not “approved,” the Sussexes’ point being that their kids were entitled to the titles as a matter of law and nobody’s permission was required) with Buckingham Palace. But the timing and manner of the big reveal made it look rather like the Palace, and many courtiers, had, if not been blindsided, certainly been caught off guard. The bulletin to People was about as far from a co-ordinated joint announcement as you can get and has fueled suspicion that Harry and Meghan, tired of Charles’ refusal to officially declare their kids prince and princess (which he could easily have done at any point from his accession address onwards), decided to put it up to the royals.
The king is pleased: Friends and allies of King Charles and Prince William told The Daily Beast that the king would be “pleased” that Harry and Meghan had decided to use Prince and Princess titles for their children, and that it showed they had never been discriminated against, contrary to Meghan’s claim in the Oprah interview that Archie was unfairly denied the title “Prince” at birth, suggesting this was down to racial prejudice.
Then why didn’t Charles use his grandkids’ titles back in September? A friend of Charles’ told The Daily Beast: “Meghan said on her Oprah interview that the royals had blocked Archie from becoming a prince, but it was always just a matter of convention. When the queen was alive they were great-grandchildren of the monarch so they were not entitled to the titles. Now they are grandchildren of the monarch, so they are.” The friend tried to put a pro-Charles spin on this week’s turn of events, presenting it as a victory for the values of traditionalists, saying: “Charles will of course be pleased that [Harry and Meghan] clearly want the children to inherit their royal titles.”
William is incandescent too: A friend of William’s, asked about the developments, also referred back to the Oprah interview, and told The Daily Beast: “Meghan made out there was some dastardly plot to favor William’s kids over Harry’s. That really hurt William. Now everyone can see that was never the case.”
Again, Charles refused to do this back in September: An alternative interpretation of the week’s action and reaction is that despite the readiness of the Palace to accept the titles, and there is no doubt that they acted quickly to update their website and made all the right noises this week, this does not obscure the fact that Charles failed to declare the children prince and princess soon after the death of the queen. Would it have been so hard for his accession address which paid tribute to Harry and Meghan to mention “Prince and Princess Archie and Lilibet,” for example? In failing to do so, and in leaving the question hanging, some would say Charles left an open goal, and, this week, the Sussexes scored.
Deafening silence: Christopher Andersen, New York Times bestselling author of a new biography of Charles, The King, told The Daily Beast: “Since Queen Elizabeth’s death, Charles’ silence on this matter has been deafening. There were many occasions when the king, in an effort to heal the rift between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family, could have made the grand gesture and bestowed titles on Archie and Lilibet, but Charles clearly chose not to. Harry and Meghan forced the Palace’s hand. Rather than continue to wait around to see if King Charles would bend and finally bestow them on the Sussex children, Harry and Meghan took the bull by the horns and did it themselves. You have to admire their audacity. It’s really very American of them.”
[From The Daily Beast]
I think this is mostly correct, although I hate that the Sussexes are being positioned as singlehandedly “declaring” their children prince and princess. Again, Archie and Lilibet have technically had those royal titles since September. It was automatic. Charles was the one playing fast and loose with the idea that he had to “give” those titles to his grandchildren, when really, his power in this situation would have been to take the titles away. Anderson is right as well – Charles tripped over his own d–k in this issue over the titles. The magnanimous move from a king would have been recognizing his mixed-race grandkids immediately, at the exact same time he recognized his white grandchildren.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Netflix.
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