So, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have officially taken up residence at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate, and with that has come the already-announced division of their household from that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. As discussed here, their operation falls under the umbrella of Buckingham Palace, and as discussed here, there’s nothing inherently shocking about this split.
But of course, it has provided plenty of fodder for gossip and tabloids thanks to the now long-rumored animosity between William and Harry, and the launch of the Sussexes’ independent Instagram account.
At this point, there’s way too much smoke for there not to be a fire, though naturally we still don’t know what exactly caused the fire. That William cautioned Harry on getting engaged too quickly back in 2017? That Meghan was a “bridezilla” in the lead up to last year’s royal wedding (and maybe made Kate cry)? Je ne sais pas.
As I’ve said before, I think this may be death from a thousand paper cuts, all of which ladder up to the fact that William and Harry are forging different paths, and in fact are taking a very different approach to their royal roles. From what we’ve gleaned up interviews over the past couple of years, I think it’s likely that it’s Harry who has changed course here thanks to his relatively recent embrace of his role within the Royal Family, a fact fortified – and likely shaped – by his relationship with Meghan.
As such (because I think this bears repeating), I don’t think it’s fair to lay the blame for this at Meghan’s feet. Courtiers and palace staff may well find her too American, “pushy,” and demanding, but that’s a separate issue from the tension between the brothers. And frankly I’m still not completely convinced the former reports are more than the usual post-wedding gossip that surround new royal women.
At the same time, I would be remiss if I didn’t nod to another recent news story that William may or may not have had an affair during Kate’s most recent pregnancy. I’m going to get into that in a different post, but I’m raising it here because one of the first things that jumped out at me about it is that the timing of Kate’s pregnancy actually aligns with Harry’s engagement and the first rumors of familial tension. If the rumors are true, then I don’t think it’s too outlandish to suggest Harry might have a strong opinion about it given their own experience with infidelity growing up.
So, what does any of this mean? Well, right now it kind of feels like we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop, doesn’t it? People are parsing the captions on the Sussexes’ Instagram posts and over-analyzing everything from the couple referring to their niece as “Charlotte” and not “Princess Charlotte” to unfollowing the Cambridges on the platform (they are reportedly switching up who they follow on a regular basis to highlight various charities and organizations). Engagements are being picked apart for body language and who talks to who (hello, Easter). And it still remains to be seen how the Sussexes will actually behave once they return to normal operations after the birth of their child.
The Instagram account is already problematic if for no other reason than it’s giving people too many opportunities to build conspiracy theories. One of the more recent is that KP’s post acknowledging the Queen’s birthday on April 21st purposefully excluded Meghan. In fact, it was a cropped photo from the 2016 Trooping the Colour long before Meghan arrived on the scene that captured William, Kate, George and Charlotte with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh with a half-cut off shot of Harry’s face in the background. Since KP doesn’t stand to benefit from perpetuating pettiness, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk this up to momentary stupidity.
But the fact that this is a story at all is a problem, because the BRF is quickly descending into the kind of scandal-driven nonsense that surrounds celebrity entities like the Kardashians. They’ve been here before, certainly, but they had a nice run of calm waters, and it’s baffling why this is breach is becoming more entrenched and visible.
One solution reportedly on the table is that Harry and Meghan will temporarily move to Africa – naturally, this is being referred to as “exile.” It was originally described a two or three-year stint, while more recently that has been whittled down to six months. None of this has been confirmed by the Palace, but I would again couch this story by noting that Harry has always loved Africa, frequently spoken about desiring to move there, and he and Meghan have spent a good amount of time there together. Even if all was sunny with William, I think this would be on the table and welcomed by Harry.
In some ways, it would be Harry and Meghan’s own version of William and Kate living in Wales directly before and after their wedding. Distance from the press, time to settle in as a family, etc.
Which leads us to Baby Sussex. The other twist is that Meghan is eschewing recent tradition and declining to step outside the hospital hours after giving birth to present her newborn to a pack of global photographers in full hair and makeup. To this I say good for her. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the festivity surrounding the births of George, Charlotte and Louis, but it was an awful lot to put Kate through, and since Harry and his offspring are further down the line of succession, I am all for them bowing out of this (slightly problematic) tradition.
Apparently Meghan may well choose to give birth at home in Frogmore Cottage, and the birth will be announced later, likely via Instagram, once they’ve had a stint of privacy. It’s certainly possible that she’s already given birth, though William’s recent off-the-cuff remarks to the press that he has “no idea” when his brother’s baby is due was not only an idiotic PR nightmare, but also a pretty good indication that, no, she hasn’t.
Tl;dr, I think we’ll know more once Meghan has the baby and returns from maternity leave. In the meantime, the princes need to shape up.