Meghan and Wallis - Two US Duchesses, Two "Exits"

Published: 13. 7. 2020
Author: Beata Greneche
Photo: Shutterstock.com
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Taking Meghan Markle into the British royal family is very far from accepting another divorced American woman, about whom the very mention still causes unpleasant chills on the back of Buckingham Palace residents. Yet, today Meghan seems to be an incredible mistake in the casting of the royal family.

Eighty years, 11 months and 16 days before the marriage of Prince Henry of Wales to American actress Meghan Markle, his great-uncle, a former English king known as Edward VIII, married a twice-divorced, humble American Wallis Simpson at the French Château de Candé. In 1936, barely a few months after acceding to the throne, Edward VIII resigned in favour of his brother Georges VI, father of the present Queen Elizabeth II. He chose love over the crown, causing a social earthquake that destabilized the United Kingdom at the beginning of World War II.


Edward met Wallis

Edward, the eldest son of King George V of England and Queen Mary, was destined for a grand future. He studied at the Royal Naval Academy in Osborne and later in Dartmouth. He served in the British Navy for two years, and when the First World War broke out in 1914, although he was only fourteen, he joined the front and served with the Grenadier Guard. Imagining what precious prey he might have been for the enemy of the British throne, his commanding officer did not allow him to fight in the first line, and Edward saw enough of the trenches to return from there with a deep aversion to war.

The English were very proud of their pacifist prince, who with his charisma and attractive appearance was the most photographed man of the time. But the very traditional royal family had no sense of his carefree life and weakness for married women. It was his lover who introduced him to a married American Wallis Simpson at a party, where he became "obsseviely-addicted" after several rendezvous, according to his official biographer. They met more and more often and ultimately didn't even attempt to hide their adulterous relationship. This, however, didn’t reflect the ideas of the duties of the future king, who was to marry, start a family and consolidate and ennoble the monarchy.

The then King George V and his wife, Queen Mary, refused to get on terms with Edward's relationship and would never accept it. When the public became aware of Edward's affair, Wallis quickly became one of the most hated women in the country. They called her "the woman" and no one - neither the royal family nor the ordinary people - approved of their union.
In the end, it was on 11th December 1936 that Edward VIII gave up the English throne for her, as his romantic gesture, which was recorded in history as a gesture of greatest love, facing criticism and hatred. In words: "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."Edward not only gave up the royal title but was also removed from the payroll of the Sovereign Grant.

The wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was held on 3rd June 1937 at Candé Castle in France. None of the members of the British royal family participated in the ceremony.


Harry met Meghan

Harry, as the second son of the current candidate for the British throne Prince Charles, is in the successor line to the throne sixth in the row, but in popularity with their English "subjects" is just behind his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. According to many witnesses, he is also her pet. Perhaps for these reasons, when he fell in love with a divorced American actress, no one in Buckingham Palace objected, and the three years older Meghan Markle was admitted with open arms.

The fairytale wedding took place on 19th May, 2018 in the Chapel of Sts. George at the Royal Castle in Windsor, the bride was walked down the aisle by the father of the groom, Prince Charles, in the presence of 600 guests from the royal family and celebrities, and Archbishop of Canterbury wedded the fiances. The American Bishop Michael Curry, who heads the American Episcopal Church, spoke during the ceremony in American rhythmic speech in the style of black preachers and then a Gospel choir brought the atmosphere of Harlem churches to the heart of the British monarchy.

The royal family paid for the wedding, including flowers, service, music and wedding reception, and Queen Elizabeth II personally attended it together with her husband Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh.


Hope for Modernization

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were to a symbol of the modernization of the English royal court. According to experts in the British monarchy, Meghan was seen as a breeze to rebuild a bit of obsolete royal institution, especially for the reputation in the countries of  the Commonwealth, where the Queen is highly respected, but Prince Charles much less so. In addition, during the Brexit era, it was necessary give a sight to the sore eyes on the other side of the Atlantic, so a divorced, working American actress and a mulatto seemed an ideal choice to introduce the British royal family as modern and multicultural.

Unlike Diana, who married Charles as an innocent 19-year-old girl, a 36-year-old mature actress was expected to be ready for her greatest role in life. However, the lights of the reflectors bouncing off the golden cage of the palaces proved to be stronger than the fresh Duchess could handle ...


Parting over the Internet

Just a few months after the wedding, rumours said that the personality of Harry's wife was driving out of the palace until then loyal employees. Increasingly, we were hearing words such as bossiness and arrogance. Screams, fits of anger, or exaggerated demands were the reason for the departure of personal assistants, media consultants and chiefs of communications. The couple also enraged the public, who described them as hypocrites, who in social media pretend to be conservationists, but fly by a modest jet for luxury holidays. However, this year's 8th January became an absolute highlight and disappointment for lovers of the monarchy. In their Instagram, Harry and Meghan said they would give up their role in the royal family and work to become financially independent. This way of parting with the royal family surprised and disappointed other representatives of the monarchy, including Queen Elizabeth II.


Sand Castle of Financial Freedom?

From 1st April, 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex resigned as senior members of the royal family. They retain the Ducal title, but lose the title of "Royal Highness" and the associated benefits. Most of their income has so far come from money from the Queen, Prince Charles and the taxpayers. In recent days, much has been debated mainly about who will pay their security, which costs 600 thousand to million pounds per year. President Trump dismissed the possibility of state aid on his Twiter, which the Canadian government did a few weeks before that. The couple plans to earn a living by writing books and developing their own brand “Sussex Royal”, from which they had to the drop the word “Royal” in the meantime.

Even in the summer on the pre-premiere of the film "The Lion King" the grandson of Elizabeth II wasn’t bashful to praise the voiceovering talents of his wife in front of Disney’s CEO, while highlighting her huge appetite for collaboration. It didn’t take long and Meghan landed a contract for voiceovering in the future production of the famous studios. However, this was before the announcement and subsequent departure from the nest of the royal family.

According to the British tabloids, Meghan Markle's career at Walt Disney Company would be a bit complicated today. The Mail on Sunday says that a high society official said "Meghan needs Disney more than Disney needs Meghan," adding that her image is too controversial for them. After the premiere of "Elephant" on 3rd April, Meghan has even smaller chance for another contract. The Telegraph sees her voice as sweet, The Times writes about the often exaggerated and sentimental tone, and The Guardian was the meanest: "She takes to Disney-narration like an anthropomorphic duck to water." So it seems Meghan’s Sussex money may not come from voiceovers.


Will They Last or Regret It

It seems that American women do not bring much luck to the British monarchy. It is said that Edward and Wallis regretted the fate they followed. He had exchanged the throne's service for a life of idleness, and she spent the rest of her life with a man who was no more than an ordinary Duke of Windsor, and whom she could not leave easily because of the sacrifice he made for her. May Harry be in the same place in a few years? May he say that he should not have succumbed to his wife's desire to cut himself off from his royal family, his beloved grandmother, who will soon be succeeded by his father and later his brother, with whom they had been so close until recently? And wouldn't Meghan say that the prince she had fallen in love with is just a duke? British Duke lost in Los Angeles, where the couple moved in late March. Another illogical move, through which they wanted to resolve their complaints of the overwhelming interest and pressure of journalists in the UK by moving to Hollywood ...


Edward and Wallis, the former monarch chose love without the kingdom rather than a kingdom without love.


Parallels and Differences

Meghan is the second American Duchess to surrender her duties. True, unless the whole royal family has some toadstool for dinner, there is little hope Harry will ever accede the throne. The first American Duchess Wallis, however, married the King of England, and they never forgave her. Both women also have a lot in common. They were born and raised in America and met their native husband of the Windsor family at the age of 34. Both were divorced, which was a problem especially in the first case more than 80 years ago. Of course, there are big differences between the two royal couples. The wealthy family of Bessie Wallis Warfield owned slaves, while Meghan Markle's ancestors were slaves. Meghan tried to push through and worked hard for it. We would certainly find many similar parallels and differences. But one thing is certain. The phrase "cherchez la femme" also applies in this royal story.


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