Step back is the language of control.
This is your script, not mine.
This doesn’t work for me, but it might with some adjustments.
The royals occupy their own realm, but I believe the aftershocks of stepping back could reach far and wide. I am not talking about the kind of teeth-grinding, pearl-clutching, tongue-clacking debates I have witnessed while visiting Britain this week. I am talking about the Earth slipping a little off its axis to allow for men and women everywhere to reassess their lives and perhaps listen to the little voice inside that says, “You know, this isn’t working for me.”
Women are conditioned to stifle that voice. Drown it out with mommy planners and empowerment seminars and accessories that proclaim, “I got this!!!” In truth, every one of those exclamation points is a wobbly question mark written in crayon or lipstick or smeared peanut butter because, who has time to slow down and find a pen? The day is too short. The “to do” list is too long. Chasing success is really dodging failure — constantly.
I may never meet them, but I am certain there are women who at this very moment are forming their own plans to “step back” and reassess their journeys. It could be their relationships, their career paths, certainly the way they divide their time among both. I’d like to believe that men might be inspired to examine the balance in their lives as well, but we know women are judged differently when they lose their footing.
Prince Harry and Meghan will order their steps differently now. This was reportedly a joint decision, but the gobsmacked disbelief among loyal royal watchers in Britain suggested that the woman was going to be blamed for this decision for a long time.
“She came between two brothers.”
“She soured Prince Harry on his own country.”
“She was a bit too quick to give up on Britain.”
Pick your own wicked story line. The Duchess of Sussex was cast as an outsider. She was cast as overly ambitious. She was cast as the newcomer with too many new ideas. She was cast as someone all too willing to blame racism for the harsh media scrutiny that befalls any royal in-law. British news shows carried chyrons on the bottom of the screen that asked, “Did racism play a role?” That, of course, sidestepped the real question — what role did racism, or even just race, play in a culture where the term “half-caste” is still used in some places with a completely straight face? Even the name — Megxit — blamed the woman. It was all a reminder that fairy tales are overrated.
Freedom is a prize unto itself, and even the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have earned some measure of that working together, as a team, to determine how to build the best life for their son. It was in every way a modern declaration of independence. But there is another prize in this saga. The queen’s pragmatic and conciliatory tone was perhaps an attempt to vanquish the notion that this tale needed a villain.
“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the queen said in brief statement issued after the crisis summit on Monday. “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.” The message between the lines: Stand down, and respect their choice.
The queen softened her stiff upper lip to give her cherished grandson a kiss on the forehead. Not a farewell, but a wish that he, his wife and son would indeed fare well by distancing themselves from the crushing responsibilities and cruel media hordes that drove his mother to a prickly estrangement — and worse.
Here in Britain, a lot of loyal royal watchers were waiting for senior management at Sandringham to crack the whip.
Instead, it cracked the door open to North America.