Suits actress Meghan Markle – known these days as the Duchess of Sussex – has chosen to treat us all to her thoughts on British higher education.
According to the Sunday Times, she thinks our universities are too “male, pale and stale”. And when she learned that British university professors are overwhelmingly white and male, Meghan was apparently moved to gasp: “Oh my God”.
Perhaps the Duchess ought to have another glance at her husband Prince Harry – aka the Duke of Sussex. If she looks very carefully, she may notice that he too is overwhelmingly white and male. With luck, she’ll be so appalled by this shock discovery that she’ll up sticks and move back to Hollywood, where she belongs.
I’m sorry to have to put it so bluntly but it’s what most of us are thinking: Meghan Markle is the new Wallis Simpson – and this ain’t going to end well for anyone.
At the time of her wedding, everyone politely pretended that having a mixed race American with a glamorous showbiz background marrying into the Royal Family was delightfully refreshing and invigorating. Actually, though, it’s proving to be a disaster. This has nothing to do with her much-trumpeted ethnicity (which in fact few people even noticed, let alone cared about, till Markle’s PR people kept ramming it down our throats) or U.S. heritage, and everything to do with her rude, pushy manner and insufferably woke politics.
The point about becoming a member of the Royal Family is that with all the money and public attention and bragging rights come concomitant responsibilities. You don’t get upgraded to the title Duchess of Sussex just so you can spend the rest of your life swanning around ritzy health clubs in a tiara and being fawned over in glossy magazines. You simultaneously assume certain duties, foremost among which is that you don’t bring “the Firm” – as the Royal Family refer to themselves – into disrepute.
This is just what the Duchess has done with her race-baiting comments on British academe, which she made in her role as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
The Duchess attended a presentation by a woman at the (extremely left wing) School of Oriental and African Studies who was campaigning to “decolonise the curriculum.”
She said afterwards:
“Just open up that conversation so we are are talking about it as opposed to continuing with that daily rote…sometimes that approach can be really antiquated and needs an update.”
Apart from showing a lamentable grasp of spoken English, the Duchess’s remarks show a completely tone deaf attitude to royal protocol.
Sure, there will be one or two metropolitan progressives who share the Duchess’s view that what universities need right now are fewer dead white males like Shakespeare and Plato and Winston Churchill on the curriculum, and more vibrant figures like Oprah Winfrey, Sappho and Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar to provide balance. They might even agree that what really counts in university recruitment these days are gender, skin colour and sexual orientation, not old fashioned stuff like actual knowledge or expertise or an ability to think, communicate and teach.
But this is still, likely, a minority viewpoint outside the Westminster bubble, the BBC canteen or the lovely outdoor swimming pool at Soho Farmhouse.
Many if not most British people – parents, employers, even students – would much prefer that universities stopped burrowing ever deeper down the rabbit hole of identity politics, virtue-signalling and victimhood and instead resumed their traditional function of polishing, enriching and enlarging student’s minds, and of broadening the sum total of human knowledge.
Did no one warn the Duchess that it would better not to venture an opinion on so divisive an issue?
Apparently not. Or, if they did, she clearly wasn’t listening.
Perhaps it’s because the Duchess has always moved in circles of such impeccable liberal orthodoxy that she has no idea how real people think.
That would explain some of the Duchess’s other recent missteps, such as her promotion of a “community kitchen” attached to a London mosque – the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre – with links to 19 Islamic extremists, including the ISIS murderer Jihadi John.
One of the other hats the Duchess likes to wear is as a crusading feminist. This is a position that sits somewhat at odds with her support for a mosque where one of the imams has allegedly warned that women who listen to music are at risk of becoming strippers, that women should not pray while menstruating and that they should not cry while visiting graves.
Again, the Duchess’s relentless virtue-signalling and her double standards on Islam are exactly what you would expect from someone who has spent their adult life hanging out with showbiz luvvies. But they are not remotely representative of people in the country at large.
If the Duchess’s arrogance, pushiness and insensitivity are dividing the nation they have also driven a wedge within the Royal Family.
Prince Harry and his elder brother Prince William used to be the best of mates. Now, reportedly, they’re scarcely on speakers. And the relationship between their respective wives is reportedly even worse. While Prince William’s wife Kate (aka the Duchess of Cambridge) – as befits a future queen consort – stays dutifully clear of controversy, her sister-in-law keeps playing the needy, mouthy, whiny prima donna.
American readers may be a bit puzzled to hear all this. The version of events reported back in the U.S. is usually the one relayed by showbiz friends of Meghan, such as George Clooney who recently claimed that the Duchess of Sussex was being “pursued, vilified and chased” in the same way that Princess Diana was.
Well Clooney might be right about the “vilified” part. (And whose fault is that?). But not the “pursued” and “chased” part. As veteran royal photographer Arthur Edwards recently wrote, the Duchess enjoys far greater privacy than Princess Diana ever did. Edwards doesn’t have kind things to say about the way that Meghan has changed her husband.
Prince Harry – who bravely served his country on two tours of duty in Afghanistan – used to be the most popular royal. Now, says Edwards, he has gone from “hero to zero” – at least in his relationship with the media.
Like his wife, he has become much more whiny and victimy. This is not a good look for a chap once considered the most dashing, funny, raffish, fearless and funny of all the royals.
The other thing that American readers may not understand is that over here, on the whole, we like our Royal Family and want it to last as an institution.
Many American readers – I know this from the comments – still think of the Royals in terms of George III, the ‘tyrant’ they properly overthrew to gain their freedom from taxation without representation. It’s important to point out that things have moved on since then.
Under the system known as “Constitutional monarchy” our kings or queens no longer have any real power. They are figureheads, who reign but do not rule. And though leftists love to gripe about how much money they cost the taxpayer – around 69 pence, less than a dollar, per taxpayer per year – it seems likely that they offer far better value (in terms of ceremonial; the tourist and heritage industry; soft power; and so on) than if they were replaced, say, by an elected president.
Certainly, if you’re an American conservative reading this then regardless of your position on the U.S. Constitution, you should be deeply concerned about what your Hollywood ex-compatriot is doing to your brothers and sisters across the pond. Meghan Markle is engaged in a woke takeover of one of Britain’s most cherished and important conservative institutions. She won’t succeed. But she’ll do a whole heap of damage while she’s trying.