The unofficial motto of the Queen Mother was simple: “Never complain, never explain.” It was an attitude influenced by her aristocratic upbringing—in which a “stiff upper lip” was highly prized—and the sense that the Royal Family must retain its mystery to survive.
It is a motto that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, have comprehensively rejected. The couple’s announcement that they will “step back” as senior members of the Royal Family is a significant moment in the centuries-old soap opera of the British monarchy. Harry and Meghan have come to symbolize a new type of royal: unashamedly political, emotionally open, socially conscious. As a mixed-race woman and a feminist, Meghan has become an icon (and a hate figure). As an American, she has exported the Windsor brand back to a continent that once took a rather dim view of hereditary rulers. And like another American divorcée, Wallis Simpson, she has emboldened her royal husband to break away from his family.