I’m not the most important guy in the world — although my Jewish mother might take issue with that statement — but with nine children and 10 grandchildren, thank God, I have better things to do with my life than obsess over royal shenanigans.
But there I was, watching Netflix’s reportedly $100 million documentary deal with Harry and Meghan, because for me, as an American who lived in Britain as a rabbi in Oxford for 11 years, it confirmed everything I believed about how truly vilified Harry has become. And his wife even more so.
The original sin that we Americans perpetrated was to reject Britain. To reject its monarchy. To reject its stuffiness. To reject its pomposity.
The British king lives in 10 castles. The American president lives in a Georgian mansion renowned for its comparative simplicity.
The British believe that some people are born blue-blooded and royal, superior to real mortals. We Americans laughed at the idea, and we burned George III’s image throughout the colonies.
To the British, this was heresy of heresies.
It’s not true that George III ever was a tyrant. That’s an American invention. His worst prewar atrocity was the Boston massacre, where six people died. Yes, that was six innocent lives. But compare it to Vladimir Putin and you’ll start understanding how we Americans tried to portray him as a monster. And why? Because he dared tell us what to do. How dare he?
And now you understand Meghan Markle. Is she entitled, a little bit arrogant, a touch narcissistic? Which Hollywood celebrity isn’t? After all, they are American royalty. But how could that possibly explain the demonization of Meghan, which stems not just from possible racism because she is a woman of color (remember, there was never a civil rights movement in Britain, then again, Britain abolished slavery well before we Americans) but because she is a powerful American woman who believes she is the equal of any of her peers.
How dare she?
What was the essence of the Harry and Meghan documentary that so stirred up the British? Yes, Harry dumped on his family. But actually, not that much. He said they were jealous of his wife. Yawn … I’ve heard that before. He said his brother screamed at him. Ouch! And he said the Buckingham Palace press doctors planted stories against him and his wife, which they probably did. It’s the name of the game in Britain, where the tabloids are among the most vicious on earth.
But is any of that really earthshattering? Sounds like a pretty straightforward family squabble to me.
No, Harry’s real sin in the documentary — shown over and over again — is how much he is enjoying living in America after having rejected Britain. Instead of the drab gray sky, he lives in Montecito, California, under a sunlit sky. Instead of being driven around in bulky SUVs, he’s driving topless sportscars. And instead of being married to a member of the British aristocracy, which would have been expected — someone who knows how to bite her upper lip — he’s married to a loud, opinionated, tough American. Good on her. It should always have been thus.
Even Harry’s mother, Diana, was never as hated as Meghan is, because even Diana did not make the cardinal sin of abandoning Britain for America.
And yes, what’s rightly going through Harry’s mind — and this is the serious part of this otherwise not-that-significant story — is that his mother died because of all this royal nonsense.
Royalty is an ossified relic of the past. Nearly all those who are a part of it are suffering. From Charles, who suffered in a loveless marriage to Diana, who was its principal victim, to the very dignified Queen Elizabeth, who was never even allowed to express an opinion, to the minor royals who quietly fade into the twilight still beseeching for some part of the public purse so they can maintain an increasingly unaffordable lifestyle, the monarchy is becoming something that is cruel to its participants.
Harry saw his mother literally die in in the institution, surrounded by paparazzi leeches taking pictures of her crushed and dying body in a Paris tunnel.
He has decided that this will never happen to his family.
And that’s the serious part of the fake fairy tale.
A man watched his mother die and knows where this all leads. His wife admits to suicidal thoughts — and look at what the monarchy did to Edward VIII (not the greatest guy — he loved Hitler); Prince Margaret (who couldn’t marry the man she loved because he was divorced); not to mention the slow disfiguring of the once-proud war hero, Prince Andrew, now forever banished for undefined sins with Jeffrey Epstein.
The Bible says that a man has to move away from his father and mother, embrace his wife, become one flesh, and build a new nuclear family by being closer to her than to his birth parents. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and leave his mother, he shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Why would anyone fault Harry for putting his relationship with his wife and children before that with his father and brother? His wife and kids come first. Period. He’s correcting the mistake of his own father, King Charles III, who never put his wife first, which is what slowly destroyed her.
I respect Prince William and Kate for carrying on the proud tradition of monarchy, because it remains important to the British people. But I respect Harry even more for saying, “Get me out of here.”
Is he a hypocrite for trading off his fame to make a buck? Come on. It’s the American way.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood is the author of “Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell” and “Kosher Hate.” Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.