Everybody now refers to the royal family as The Firm, implying it’s a family business. And as journalists who’ve written about hundreds of family businesses in articles, posts and two books, including Corporate Bloodlines: The Future of the Family Firm, we concur.
Yes, it’s privately-held but publicly-funded in large part by its citizens and government for the services it renders—good will, celebrity cachet, style and its fabled fairy-tale lifestyle with members wearing fancy ribbons, medals, uniforms, hats, jewels and tiaras and living in castles and palaces that somehow signal that all those within its kingdom are very special.
But behind all the glitz and glamor, this is just another family with all the issues families face who are in business together: succession issues and power grabs behind the scenes, sibling rivalry, cultural changes as new generations come on board, salaries with so many family members taking pieces of the pie, tax and estate complications and a head who refuses to prepare the next generation to take control and step down herself.
Now, due to a few recent public royal imbroglios i.e. Prince Andrew’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein and Harry and Meghan’s split from the royal family to go their own way, the family firm has faced a crisis. Will the monarchy survive? As any good family business advisor would say, it will endure if it changes with the times and needs of subsequent generations. The Queen’s willingness to let Harry and Meghan go their own way is a good sign.
We are all fascinated by the Harry/Meghan drama for it revolves around money, politics and family. So, we took it upon ourselves to get the real scoop by going straight to the horse’s mouths—the Queen, Harry and Meghan. We have crafted a fantasy blog with fictitious interview questions that many of us are dying to ask and what we perceive to be the answers. The following is all tongue and quite cheeky.
Question to the Queen: Thank you, your majesty, for taking time to talk to us. We know you are putting out a lot of fires (we are not referring to those in Australia), so to speak. Let’s start with who’s really minding the store these days. You’re still the head but we hear your direct heir Prince Charles is vying for your job behind the scenes. What’s really going on?
A, the Queen: It’s so common these days to push aside the elderly head in business regardless of their experience. I’ve had 70 plus years at my job and let me remind you, the monarchy is still intact. It’s been challenged a few times with affairs and divorces, the death of Diana and my reaction to it, the marriages to non-royal divorcees by Charles and Harry and Andrew’s shameful friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. Admittedly, I’ve swept a lot under our rugs, and we have a lot of those—and expensive ones--in all our homes. Charles and Camilla think it’s their time to run the show now and according to reports, their popularity has risen. Charles has transformed his image after all that happened with that Diana. It’s clear they want me out. It’s not unlike Rupert Murdoch’s crew. The kids believe they know better.
Q, to the Queen: But what’s Charles’ major gripe besides wanting to take charge and wear the crown? And isn’t it true that with the crown comes a heavy load? Are there too many wanting a piece of the pie, which will affect his share?
A, the Queen: He thinks so, so he’s trying to prune the number of family members who have their hands out. After Andrew’s unsavory behavior, it’s time we cut his allowance. My darling grandson Harry and his wife have forfeited their royal funds and duties.
Q, to the Queen: Speaking of Harry and Meghan, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. We hear they’re no longer working members of the royal family firm. We’ve all read the PR buzz, but will they still be accepted into the family with open arms and their coat of arms? Will there be places at the tables for them?
A, the Queen: They will always be part of our family. I adore Harry for his sense of humor and other playful qualities. Meghan is a lovely woman who, like Diana, has that je ne sais quoi quality that I don’t seem to possess. When Harry met Meghan, he was smitten. And indeed, their chemistry is intense. But, after they married, cracks began to appear. Now, as the months and years pass, I am starting to grasp the inky depths of Meghan’s daddy issues, entitlement, the public racial biases and wrath of the tabloid press because the couple didn’t offer full access to their baby. I worry if Harry and Meghan realize what they’ve given up. Can they continue the lifestyle to which they’ve both become accustomed?
Meghan (carrying the wee one, Archie) and Harry have just entered the room.
Q, to Meghan: Thanks for joining us in this discussion. Just a few questions for you. How hard has living in a fishbowl been on your marriage?
A, Meghan: Marriage is tough under the best circumstances. Consider Madame Bovary who despised her stifling union to that hack of a doctor. The dreary and pedantic husband in “Middlemarch” who tried to ruin Dorothea Brooke. And the world knows about Charles’ flawed marriage with Diana that led him to Camilla’s bed and a very bad ending. Don’t get me started on Camilla. She tries so hard to be nice to me because she must. I think she turns her nose up to most commoners and Americans.
Q, to Meghan: Has being a royal eroded your self-confidence? You seem so sure of yourself. After all, you were a successful actress.
A: I like to think that I am tough, resourceful and independent. So, the fact that the most challenging part of my royal workday is to pick out the right purse and lipstick color has been insulting. This got me thinking: Am I not as brave and self-sufficient as I thought I was? Am I just a wuss? I am used to being the center of attention. But who knew there’d be so much competition? It didn’t take me long to learn there’s only one big shot in this business. Every morning to bolster my self-confidence I consult my mirror: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the sexiest, most popular and prettiest royal of them all?” It’s a toss-up, the mirror keeps responding. And let me add that it’s not such a big deal to have giant castles and fancy digs, designer clothes and expensive cars. So, we’ll drive a second-hand Ford if it starts and is dent free. We do have a certain image to uphold. I mean, seriously, how much money do we need in the bank?
Q, to Meghan: We admire your quest for independence and privacy, but you must live and eat? How will you make money after you shed the royal titles and money? And why this sudden turn of events?
A, Meghan: We have our brand. We are celebrities and I was one in my own right on TV before I gave it up for this marriage of inconvenience. I know how to sell myself to the public. Afterall, I am an actress and have friends in powerful places like Serena and Oprah.
Harry begged me to marry him. I was hesitant at first and a bit intimated by the royal pomp and circumstance. The bowing. Sitting like I have a pole up my ass and crossing my legs at the ankles to keep photographers and the public from peering up my skirt. I do not enjoy wearing hats all the time and worrying about hat head. And if I don’t like something served for a meal, I have to smile and swallow. I cannot spit it out like a baby or even burp. And how would you like your dresses, earrings, headbands, shoes, and last, but not least, underpants laid out for you. I am an almost 40-year-old woman having her underpants laid out for her as part of her job.
After Archie’s birth and the history of what happened to Harry’s mother with the press which began to pounce on us more and more, I told Harry that we had to get packing. Will we have regrets? We might struggle and live in a three-bedroom mid-century modern. I can do that, and I know that my Harry will adjust. I can earn a living. Going back on TV or into retail selling makeup and teaching people how to get my dewy perfect skin. In a year, we can reevaluate our decision, according to our agreement with the Queen. Let me add that however we decide to earn our living, we have agreed to follow royal values and do all endeavors with discretion. No nudity. No selfies. No exotic dancing.
Q, to Meghan and Harry: Thanks for such a long, thoughtful response. What was the tipping point at which you said, enough is enough?
A, Meghan: I think our leaving was a combination of concerns. The racial slurs were the hardest to take. There hasn’t been a royal of color since Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, who was descended from a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House. Her legacy was shaky, and she made poor choices of friends such as Marie Antoinette. And we know what her claim to fame was, that cake mantra.
Q, to Harry: How do you break from the family business and not break up with your family?
A, Harry: I still care about my family and will respect that relationship. I love my Nana; we have had some wonderful times together. Nana, although you didn’t change my diapers, pick up my pacifier when I dropped it or sing ABCs to me, you have been supportive of me as an adult. You have allowed us to sing and dance in public and hug strangers. We have access to you most of the time and promise to think about you every day. And maybe one day you will be able to say, “Harry, Meghan and Archie you make us so proud” as you stare at us with tearful smiles.
Q, to the Queen: There are also stories about Kate and Meghan not getting along. Was that a factor do you think in Harry and Meghan stepping down? Is their rivalry causing a rift between the brothers? Is Meghan a diva? Has the brothers’ relationship blown up? They were best friends. Are they still speaking?
A, the Queen: Look, you can’t pick your daughters-in-law. Meghan is used to grabbing attention as a TV star and has wanted to continue to be the drama queen, so to speak. There’s competition between them, so we just try to smile and keep a stiff upper lip and let them duke (and duchess) it out behind the scenes.
A, Meghan: Indeed, I thought my relationship with Kate would bestow a certain intimacy for Kate was already acquainted with the flaws and failings of the monarchy. Any encouragement I got from Kate was on the level of how she would address one of the Corgis. I’ll cut her some slack. She is lovely but has a weight problem; everyone sees that. We have lots of sympathy (Diana had an eating disorder) and now we just watch Kate move the food around on her plate without saying anything.
Q, to the Queen: Have you called in any family business experts to guide you; there are so many professionals and good books around. We brought along a copy of the two we wrote for you to read and have a printed list of some of the advisors we think best if you’d like to email or ring them up. We can let them know in advance if you might.
A, the Queen: We have in the hopes of keeping our struggles private. But since you asked, we’ve got a plan. You’re the first to hear it, too. The best family businesses divide the tasks. I’d like to do that and divvy up the roles among Charles and William. Each will get their own domain, palace and purpose. We see Charles tending to agricultural and metaphysical stuff; he’s been known to like talking to the flowers. I guess he’s lonely at times. William will deal with international challenges since he’s got a calm demeanor and his wife is sweet like a sugarplum fairy. All the others will be encouraged to find their own jobs and that way learn their value to society outside the royal bubble. Your economy is doing better than ours; maybe there are more jobs in the States for them.
Q, to the Queen: So, it sounds as if you really have no plans to retire? How have you planned for your golden, golden years?
A, the Queen: You are right. I do not have plans to step down or retire. I’m enjoying all this control. Also, it’s fun watching all the episodes of The Crown. The producers have gotten word to me that if I stay in my role, they’ll keep filming new seasons and maybe even share in the royalties (get it?). I find The Crown to be as delicious as my favorite dessert Chocolate Perfection Pie. It’s so much fun to see what they’ve gotten right with my life although some of it is dead wrong. Bet you’d love to know, wouldn’t you?
(She smirks and exits. Harry, Meghan and Archie follow.)