Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Fried Chicken Wednesdays: When the Sun Finally Sets

I swear, even though I am an American and don't give a hoot about these things, I totally plan to set my clock to wake up earlier on May 6, and I might even set the DVR for the pre-game commentary. Of course I am referring to the long-awaited coronation of the one and only King Charles the Third, a party the likes of which most of us haven't seen in 70 years. So, as I have done for other British Royal events, I will fix myself a spot of spiked tea, maybe find a cute fascinator to wear along with my bathrobe, and then I will scroll through Twitter to read all of the chatter about Meghan Markle, who won't even be there. 

Yep, because I am 100% sure that her name will trend even though she will be at home in her bathrobe drinking spiked tea while making treat bags for the kiddies who will be at Prince Archie's birthday party later that day. And if I'm wrong about her absence being the story, then the presence of her husband, Prince Harry the Prodigal Son, will give them plenty to twat on about instead. It will be quite ironic to see how a day that has been in the planning for decades gets upstaged by a kid's fourth birthday party all the way in California.

In this latest installment of #RoyalNewsYouCantUse, I am stating at the outset that I expect the worst from the British tabloid media these next few weeks because everything, and I mean EVERYTHING to this point has proven that the Sussex Royals were right to jump ship when they did. I remain convinced of that position since the last the time I declared that I haven't read the book; nor watched any of the press interviews that promoted the book; nor listened to more than a few minutes of the podcast; nor bothered to get the password from the Hub to watch the Netflix special. None of that has changed. I don't make it a habit to peruse the tabloids for information about the British Royals, and I've even stopped watching my old favorite Brit-coms on PBS. I wouldn't say that I lost interest in all things British after Queen Elizabeth died; however, to be honest, I have been preoccupied by the potential loss of democracy and rapid descent into authoritarianism in my country.

Yet, as we have all learned in the seven years since Harry met Meghan, she is the most interesting person to become associated with that stodgy family since Princess Diana. The fact that she sells more papers on rumors of stuff she didn't actually say as opposed to anything anyone else does is proof. Like why have there been daily articles and opinion pieces written about her in the weeks since it was announced that she would stay home from the coronation? Literally, no need to mention her name, let alone dredge up some ridiculous story to suggest that Meghan ought to be grateful to Kate Middleton's long dead ancestors for freeing hers. (Trust, we'll circle back to address that foolywang in a bit.)

Since the Muskrat has been pushing buttons at Twitter HQ without adult supervision, my algorithm gives me more information on the British Royal family than I care to know. That suggests that I have clicked too many times to see why certain names are trending (true), but it isn't like I spend a lot of time thinking about them the way they (the BRF) would like for people to think about them. Why should we care whether Camilla is referred to as the Queen or the Queen Consort (as if there is a discernable difference)? Does it matter that the real Queen has barely gone cold in her grave...what would she think of being succeeded by the woman who almost destroyed the monarchy? Oh wait, we already know, but I guess now that Charlie is the King, he can do whatever he wants without any royal rebukes from his dead Mummy.

Furthermore, why does it matter that Meghan opted not to attend? It isn't like she and the kids have a place to stay anymore since the King evicted them from the cottage and seems unlikely to put them up in one of his palaces. And anyone who has been paying attention to how shitty she's been treated by the British press should have known that she wasn't going nowhere near that coronation, not even just to stand by her man. The way she and Harry broke camp right after the Queen's funeral made it clear that Meghan ain't neva going back to England unless there is a compelling reason to subject herself to that nonsense. I can imagine the conversation and how she probably broke the news to Harry that he would be traveling solo: "That's yo Daddy; send my regards," and then followed up with "and these kids are staying home with me, so you can go if you want." Poor Harry probably tried to appeal to Mama Dee, who in classic Black matriarchal solidarity, put her hands on her hips, glared back at her beloved son-in-law, and said icily, "my daughter said what she said". And for the first time Prince Harry slept on the couch. 

It should have been obvious to everyone that we didn't even need an explanation for her absence other than she's not going. Clearly, she understood and accepts that all attention should be on the King and the day he has been dreaming of since he was a kid. Why take the shine away from him when she can watch the festivities at home like the rest of the world in her bathrobe and a fascinator? That's exactly how Joe Biden plans to participate. As will a slew of others who either declined or weren't invited, like Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. She'll be at home with the Queen's corgis she inherited, dressed in beefeater hats and drunk by noon. 

If anything, the story should be about why several other very important people opted NOT to attend. Since I mentioned President Biden, it is significant to note that his motorcade and security needs practically shut London down when he attended the Queen's funeral, so perhaps choosing not to cause a similar ruckus by attending the coronation is a good thing. There was some grumbling from the folks who live (or get paid) to be offended, but that quickly died down when it was also explained that U.S. Presidents don't attend British coronations. Ultimately, Biden understands that his presence would be an unnecessary distraction, so he is sending Dr. Jill. Then there is the fact that two of the headliners for the entertainment portion of the festivities are judges from American Idol...because several British acts are too busy to move things around on their calendars to perform for their King?

Paddington Bear found time to have tea with Queen Elizabeth last year, and a few years prior to that, she and James Bond made a cameo appearance at the Olympics in 2012. Adele and Harry Styles are both booked on this final week of the Late Late Show with James Corden. But the only person returning King Charles' phone calls is Katy Perry? And somehow that is also Meghan's fault because Elton John and the Spice Girls were previously booked for Archie's party? If I'm interpreting this correctly, the British people aren't all that enthusiastic about this coronation either; therefore, it is highly probable that the relevancy of the British Monarchy died with Queen Elizabeth. 

Not my problem because as an American, the only reason why I find all of this so fascinating is the anachronism of monarchy in the modern era. My intrigue with the British Royals began with the wedding of then-Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer some 40+ years ago when I was my daughter's age. Having read plenty of myths and legends about princesses and knights in shining armor and wizards and other mythical beings, I didn't believe any of those things were real until I learned about the enduring British monarchy. Instead of existing in some kingdom long ago and far far away, they were live and on television! Watching them over the years never rose to the level of an obsession for me; thus, if it all went away tomorrow, I imagine my life would go on just fine without their soap opera running in the background.

However, I read somewhere that the British Royals generate billions in revenue, BILLIONS. So for every random article that is written about their every move, somewhere a cash register bell goes off, and somebody can rent a summer estate or go sailing that week. Too bad not enough of that trickles down to stimulate their economy. It is a brutal reality that nothing really changed in the wake of Princess Diana's tragic death--just the subjects of the media frenzy. After years of trying to sell us on Camilla Queen-to-be, Prince William and his brood of heirs and spares, and even lesser royal cousins, other than the late QE2 herself, no one else in the royal orbit has been as compelling as Prince Harry. Ever since he placed that letter atop his mother's coffin and bravely marched behind it, he opened his heart to the world, and we've responded in kind and remain besotted with him. We've watched him come into himself, unbound by duty and free to chart his own path. So when love struck him like a thunderbolt in the form of an American actress, of course we were riveted.

Who was this woman, not quite an A-list starlet, but definitely an up-and-coming standout on an ensemble cable TV show? How did they meet? Who are her people? Why her and not some well-bred Lady of the Glen?

We got the answers to those basic questions, and then some as their courtship evolved into a royal engagement and wedding, and then eventually into another branch of the royal family. Until they decided to step back from senior royal status, I doubt most Americans had any idea how vicious the press and the courtiers had been to her. Although I had detected the shift in the narrative from that of who's that lady to who do you think you are, I also assumed that finding favor with the Queen would have nullified the haters. 

Hating Meghan Markle is more profitable and beneficial to the Firm. It sells more papers, it gives cover to the scandals of the lesser royals (Prince Andrew), and it improves the public perception and press coverage of those who had not yet won the hearts and minds of the people (Camilla). Sensing that his parents had finally grown too weary to weather more family drama, Charles did what any man in his position would have done--nothing. He had waited too long to let a few unflattering headlines about some woman ruin everything he had waited his entire life to claim, so in order to protect his crown, he allowed the wolves to have at the one member of the family who was most expendable.

The Spare. Let them feast on Harry since he was no longer needed to fulfill duties that could be farmed out to others. His charities and patronages could be reassigned. Although he spent ten (10) years in the British Army, he had retired from Her Majesty's service, so those military honors could expire with her. If his strong Black wife couldn't handle life in the gilded cage like the other birds, then that's her problem. He should have allowed the Queen to pick out some dull English girl for him to marry, some naive little peasant who knew to be grateful for the privilege of becoming a member of one of Europe's oldest monarchies. Harry brought all of this on himself for marrying an American (and another bloody American divorcee at that)!

Michael Fassbender as Macbeth (2015) 
So why am I making plans to watch the coronation of such a man? I am almost 50 years old, and I still like to read myths and legends. I know that not all of the men who are crowned King are benevolent--some are ruthless and two-faced. Fairytales are full of evil stepmothers and queens, trolls, jealous courtiers, scheming rivals, and fire-breathing dragons. There are also noble knights in shining honor who perform their duties for their sovereign, especially if there is a lovely maiden whose love he believes is worth fighting for.

Both children of divorce, H&M know how to navigate being pawns in the squabbles between parents. Often this requires making adult choices and sacrifices, such as Prince Harry having to attend this coronation that was knowingly scheduled on his son's fourth birthday. But it is important to his father, and like King Charles, Harry has been awaiting this day all of his life as well. He has a duty to be there to bear witness. If his mother Princess Diana was still alive, he would still have to be present, not only to support his father but also his older brother, the future King. The tabloids are already stirring the pot by quoting "royal sources" about the seating arrangements and VIP family who will get to appear with the newly crowned King and Queen on the balcony. But like the good soldier he is, Harry will do his duty regardless of the snubs and slights.

I'll be watching to support him and to see the beginning of this new story arc in the House of Windsor. Surely some unexpected plot twist will bring new drama (perhaps a stare-down between the future Queen and another Lady-in-Waiting to become mistress to the future King). I'll be watching to see how long Harry keeps a stiff upper lip and how many of the predictions made by royal "insiders" prove to be true. And since Meghan is on the West Coast, I'll be watching just in case she oversleeps (but more for Mama Doria since we know she's not getting up at 3am for these people). 

Finally, I'll be watching to see if King Charles finally gets what's been coming to him. What will happen in that moment when the Archbishop of Canterberry places the crown upon his head? I have this image in my mind of Charles transforming into a modern-day King Midas, endowed with everything he ever wanted but also cursed with donkey's ears that pop out on either side of his head. Other than that, I expect this entire affair will be a snooze fest, like William and Kate's wedding.

Which brings me back to that particular revelation that no one asked for regarding the ancestors of the two wives of Windsor...and if there had been any doubts that all of this back and forth is the fault of a fame-seeking missile called Meghan, believe what you want. But to prove some inane point of privilege and moral superiority, somebody went Henry Lous Gating through the past to come up with that bit of information and published it. Are you effing serious???

Of course it was seriously intended to put Meghan in her place, because there has been no supply-chain shortage of gall coming from the folks who feel the need to show us who they are in every possible way. Between that and the alleged leak of the correspondence between the Duchess and the King from two years ago, this kind of nonsense is why Meghan and Mama Dee said they are sending a Hallmark card through Harry. 

Signed on behalf of the entire Diaspora. And the late Princess Diana.

Kevin Kline as Nick Bottom in
A Midsummer's Night Dream (1999)
After the final benediction, let's pray that Harry gets out of there in time to make his flight back to the States. For my part, I will take a nap, upgrade my drink, adjust my fascinator, and wait for the Kentucky Derby which Charles surely knew was the same day, especially since horse racing was a passion of the late Queen. (And with that, I hereby concede that I know way too much about these people.) Yet, he and Lady Macbeth forged ahead with their plans anyway, so yeah, I'm tuning into to see which other ghosts come back from beyond to watch him fully transform into the ass he's always been.

 God Save the King

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