THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY
ANY TRINIDADIAN could have warned Meghan Markle that, though she was a drop-dead gorgeous beauty who could have married into even the most bigoted white Bajan clan, it was only a matter of time, after she married into the British Royal Family, that she would be reduced, by the type of Englishman who voted Brexit, to an “uppity n-word.”
Normally, I wouldn’t waste thought, breath or 800 words on the most expensive tourist trap in England. The Windsors and their German-French extended family might be invaluable to the same ignorant Brit who put sentiment ahead of sense in the Brexit “debate” (you can’t have a debate over something when only one side actually has evidence-based logical reasons for its position) but, to me, they’ve never been worth the trouble it’s took to keep them going.
Why would I give a flying firetruck if two arbitrary rich people from a family who hadn’t worked for its massive wealth for generations had a kiss on a balcony? All “royal” families are descended from ruthless, bloodthirsty, uncaring robber barons, barbarians who would execute peasants for killing “the king’s deer” to feed their starving children! The only justification of royalty I grudgingly concede is it gave rise to the idea of Robin Hood.
But I have time and space for them this week.
Because there are lessons for all of us, the common people and the one per cent alike, in the way Meghan Markle and soon-to-be-former Prince Harry were drummed out of the palace.
And there’s lesson one right there: they didn’t abandon the Queen – she effectively tossed them out.
Since declaring, a couple of Fridays ago, that they would withdraw from public life, Harry and Meghan have been vilified for embarrassing and shocking the Queen by having her read of their betrayal for the first time in the British tabloid press.
Embarrassment, my foot; shock, my other body part; betrayal, my other, even sweatier, body part.
Her Majesty knew footy-well they were so miserable they could not go on; but she also knew that, to give them her blessing to leave would damage the brand of the Royal Family.
And she thought more of the idea of the whole family, and what it looked like to the outside world, than she did of two of its relatively unimportant individual constituents.
This is how families operate, whether they are of the royal or the common or garden varieties.
When “Christian values” had the force of law in marriage, there was the legal ground for divorce of desertion.
But family courts understood that spouses – almost always husbands – could effectively drive wives out of the matrimonial home by their own behaviour. The courts accepted the legal argument that such “desertion” divorces were really cases of “constructive desertion” by the husband himself.
I would argue that Her Majesty, and the Royal Family, constructively deserted Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, not the other way around.
When, last year, Harry invoked the memory of his own mother, Princess Diana, hounded to death by the same tabloids, to defend Meghan against scurrilous press attacks, his brother, William – who will be king – publicly worried about Harry’s mental health.
When Harry’s wife was attacked viciously in the press for the same act for which William’s wife was praised (search Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and “baby bump” and “avocado” for two of 20 illustrations), Her Majesty kept her royal a--- quart, as we say in Trinidad.
It’s no different, really, from when your husband suggested an improvement to the family business and your father-in-law mocked the idea and ridiculed him – but, when the same idea was put forward by his brother, it was greeted as brilliant and the brother hailed as an entrepreneur.
Or how your sister’s teenaged daughter is called “independent” for spending the night at her boyfriend’s house – but yours is called a wajang for the same reason.
Every family is not the Corelones, but every family has its Michael and its ’Fredo.
And buries its Sonny.
Any family that considers itself “an institution” takes itself royally seriously (no matter how unfairly family rules may be applied across the board).
And any Trinidadian family that has made a bit of money is certain that it is an institution (if only one limited by its tribal parameters: a leading Hindu family; the most respected Syrian name; French Creole aristocracy; a good Tobago clan).
And this is the benefit, for all, of the suffering of Meghan Markle.
It reminds us that the institution is what must and will triumph.
Don’t mind if you, as one of the people who constitute the institution, have to be buried alive to save it.
BC Pires would be the dog in Family Man