Meghan and Harry Can’t Win for Losing

So, everyone’s favorite couple – almost everyone – Meghan and Harry shocked the world this week when they announced plans to step back from senior roles in royal life, presumably to have a life, but also to work toward financial self-sufficiency.

Sounds good, right? Who doesn’t want to be financially self-sufficient? But their decision has, like most things they do, generated a huge amount of hate. Those who care seem to be split into two camps. One camp denounces the couple as veritable heretics. The other camp, a camp I fall into, supports their move.

I mean, let’s face it. They weren’t exactly saving the world, were they? They did a lot of good and charitable work, sure. But they weren’t decisively curing cancer or actively rescuing miners trapped for two weeks. You know what I mean?

Granted, the move is unusual. Perhaps it’s even unheard in the monarchy. But their decision to step back from the madness that has engulfed them since they got married doesn’t mean they’re going to stop doing good things for others. It’s a step back, not a bow out.

What’s really shocking to me is not that we’re having this debate, but the furor of the people in that first camp. It reminds me of the crazed, horrible energy netizens have for every move their K-pop and K-drama idols make. The same energy that prompts too many idols and actors to commit suicide when the tide of public sentiment turns against them.

It’s insane, even more so because we’re not just talking about pre-teens and teenagers. We’re talking about tax-paying adults with jobs and what not going ape shit over what strangers they have no contact with whatsoever are doing with their personal lives. These same adults genuinely seem to think their opinions and concerns are more valid than those from the people – Meghan and Harry – whose actual lives are at stake.

I doubt very seriously whether this oh so talked about couple made this decision lightly. This is the direct result of the insane amount of hate they’ve gotten since they married.

It’s laughable really. Some of the social media posts and commentary I’ve read from people who condemn the move reminisce on how they “forgave” Harry for his playboy shenanigans back and the day, and this is the thanks they get? Really? This is also the same Harry whose mother was killed while being chased by the paparazzi. The same Harry who’s now watching his wife and child become the victims of some of the most consistently, collectively horrible, race-related hate the media has seen in recent times.

There have been other similar swells of hate, of course, far too many thanks in part to our current political climate. The Obamas got a horrible taste of it while in office. Thanks to the speed and breadth of reach of the Internet, racism, and the very special media psychosis that follows anything royal, every time I see a picture of Harry and Meghan and they’re smiling, I feel thankful they haven’t buckled under the pressure.

It’s ridiculous. Some naysayers don’t believe they should exist, at least together. But now that they’re attempting to remove themselves from the public eye, folks are still pissed. They can’t win for losing.

Another cliché comes to mind when I think about the embattled couple: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, technology is causing the world all kinds of growing pains as people learn how to deal with the speed and ease of communication. We’re learning how not to lose ourselves, how to leverage the tech for good and not evil, and why it’s worthwhile to make the effort when it’s so easy to fall into the filth and muck of the online mob. But people still gossip, and they still think that gossip has merit.

It doesn’t. The speed with which we can report news and comment on that news doesn’t mean our thoughts and desires should be allowed to influence events. It’s that type of madness, I think, that prompts people to so readily share hate online. It’s the worst kind of delusion and ego.

Perhaps it’s the romantic in me that roots for them. They truly do seem to be a love match. But honestly? It’s not just the romantic. It’s the pragmatic in me that hopes wonderful things come from the controversial couple’s decision to split their time between here and the UK, even if one of those things is simply, their happiness.

Predictions that their move has implications for the monarchy, I don’t have much to offer there. Perhaps, but Harry is not next in line for the throne, and I’d wager he would not hesitate to step up if need be.

Exhortations that they’re spoiled brats for daring to upset the queen? Grow up. I was taken aback by the suggestion that they made the announcement without talking to anyone at the palace first. But even if that’s true, I think I understand. In one respect, it feels like they’re fighting for their lives. Struggling to reclaim their very human right to live without constant harassment.

Still, what do I know? I’m unabashedly American, so my reverence for the idea of a monarchy is slim to none. I don’t have enough interest, energy or knowledge to debate the issue, but if the real beef is that their decision will spark a period of change, I say let the evolution begin. Change is often uncomfortable, but without it growth is impossible. Growth is good.

Further, speculation that their move has upset the queen is just more gossip. How do we know the Queen doesn’t support their move 100 percent? After all, their absence or reduced presence would reduce a lot of the destructive gossip that has plagued the royal family recently, wouldn’t it?

At the end of the day, people deserve to be happy. Even celebrities. Even royals who seem at first glance to have the world on a string. No one should have to accept the reckless, consistent and horrid abuse of an anonymous online cabal just because their name is well known, or because they have some privilege. And often when people say they’re working toward financial self-sufficiency, happiness and independence are the goal. They want to be free.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all human. We all have problems, but we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We deserve the chance to chart our own destiny, to make our own decisions, to not be held back by convention or tradition.

But that’s the American in me talking. I hope Harry and Meghan will be quite welcome and happy here in the States, and that soon we can apply another of my favorite clichés to their lives: Let freedom ring.

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