Wallis (The Sequel) Continues…

Dear Drunk:

Happy Saturday! Yeh, thanks for the opinion from remote Vermont. I admit it. Yes, yes, in late 2017 I had thought the former actor from California as member of the royal family would be good for our two countries.

I got that wrong.

[From my Instagram Stories, March 5, 2021.]

There are those saying Prince Andrew was not treated as harshly by British media. I have to ask, though, were they asleep in late 2019? He was almost universally pilloried and ridiculed for his BBC TV interview and within hours the Queen removed him from public duties. In another era he would have been banished to command of a rowboat and ordered to take a French 64 gun ship by himself. Today, they can’t do that of course, but he is now evidently about as dead publicly as Edward VIII was – and Edward is actually dead – and IF he did what some are saying he did, wow is he facing serious legal peril and rightly so.

His existence does not mean that the former actor from California gets a pass for being, well, seriously g-damn annoying in her own right. I try to avoid talking about this stuff; I’m honestly not that interested. But this one just won’t go away – particularly annoying for someone who told us she was going to go away.

She was an actor, remember. I know some actors and they are good people. Still, you might say she is literally a “drama queen”: after all, she is the one – not the disgraced Prince – jumping before cameras to do CBS-TV on Sunday evening:

Likely we will be told (again) it is all everyone else’s fault, she is wonderful, badly misunderstood, and will speak her mind darn it and those who don’t like it are all meanies.

In all seriousness, there are also those here who genuinely blame the British tabloid press. They feel her husband is only trying to protect her (and their son) from media vultures. That is one side of the argument and there is a lot there.

The other side seems to me, though, to be weightier. As an American, I will go here (where that British press actually rather surprisingly in fact usually does not). If she ever was in arguably similar circumstances and of similar media interest (in 2017-18 especially) as his mother Diana was, by 2019 that had visibly receded as her novelty increasingly wore off. By then she had come far more to resemble in some ways (to me, anyway) a Wallis Simpson.

For based on her own public actions and statements I have seen, like that (twice) divorced woman from Baltimore, this one from California thought she could swan in here and everyone would fall at her feet with no real reciprocal obligations on her part. Anything short of adoration was obviously perceived by her as unwarranted entrenched negativity (even racism) and implacable hostility toward her. Also like Wallis, she comes across – rightly or wrongly – as exactly the British stereotype of the spoiled, self-centered, super-high-maintenance, American woman.

Indeed her husband has lost far more in all this than her. She has essentially dragged him into exile, cost him his patronages, cost him his royal role, and left him at a loose end other than being there for her. Then again like his great-great-uncle Edward he went along with that course, so he gets to reap what he sowed too.

The Queen Victoria statue in front of Windsor Castle. [Photo by me, 2016.]
[The Queen Victoria statue in front of Windsor Castle. Photo by me, 2016.]

Americans are quick to condemn and/or snicker at it, but what is not readily understood in the U.S. is that the monarchy is now very much a “popular” institution. It is estimated that some 1 in 10 people here may have actually met a member of the extended royal family in person at some event, and thousands of ordinary people every year receive hono(u)rs for good works and otherwise unheralded labo(u)rs no one ever sees. A friend of mine’s father received an OBE for charitable work in Uganda.

So, yes, some – a decided minority – of course here also perpetually rail against the existence of the monarchy. But it exists now purely because the mass of voters allow it and by accident is now a largely apolitical and an even unifying institution… and in those senses is decidedly unlike the divisive U.S. presidency. (Indeed it is quite popular in Scotland and therefore may be a big reason Scotland voted to stay in the union in 2014.) The British resist the idea of a ceremonial president (like we see in Ireland and elsewhere in parliamentary democracies) instead at least in part because they feel he/she is bound to be some washed up politician who will eagerly jump on the gravy train with likely a large staff. (The thought of an appointed “President Blair” makes them gag.)

Thus an announcement that “The Queen is coming!” is going to cause an entire town to drop whatever it is doing, re-paint everything in sight, and come out on visit day in smiles just to get a glimpse of her; she is not going to attract egg-throwing protesters. (A prime minister’s visit will do that latter.) The “007” skit the Queen did with Daniel Craig for the 2012 Olympics is a far better example of where the monarchy is now than George III or Henry VIII. More importantly at the worst of times, such as when the Queen turned up with Prince William at a relief center in June 2017 for Grenfell Tower fire victims, her appearance is a serious confirmation in its way that the entire country is watching and sympathizing – as indeed the country then was. It is not about “her” as a person, but WHAT she as ceremonial chief of state symbolizes: the country.

The former actor from California was obviously unable to grasp all that and there is no real evidence that she even really tried. Her idea of “service” is apparently to serve only causes she likes and which in doing so serves HER. She LOVES to have cameras around her WHEN SHE WANTS THEM on a high-profile trip to South Africa, but clearly she does not want to do the sort of mundane daily stuff that goes mostly unreported (aside from in the local gazette) that other royals do, such as a ribbon-cutting to open the council’s new electric vehicles’ only car park in Stoke-on-Trent.

Because she was not interested in the “drudgery” that comes with being a British “second tier” royal because she is a FOREIGNER who was never all that interested in the United Kingdom per se. All she was really interested in was the world’s then most eligible bachelor. Her personal knowledge of this country before meeting him amounted to a tourist stop or two in London as millions of others also do every year. Let’s be honest: By 2016 she was just another actor in her mid-30s on a program on USA Network whose acting career had probably peaked, and she seized an opportunity provided by a mutual acquaintance to meet him, and only a nine year old could have thought it was not done with an eye on a possible “post-acting career.” (And he allowed himself to be wowed by her. It is a tale as old as the hills. But we aren’t really talking about him.)

[View of Potton, Bedfordshire, December 2019. Photo by me.]

Given all that, I feel she has got some f-cking nerve holding forth at length about this country – its institutions, its people, its history, and so on. Prior to meeting her future husband, I bet she could not have found “Sussex” on an unmarked map. Before rushing back to the U.S., she lived here for about 15 minutes in the most privileged of circumstances imaginable. There are some 250,000 of us OTHER Americans – including Black Americans – resident here who actually have LIVES here. I speak for no one but myself, but I find her tiresome and breathless varied reworkings of the “Oh, so many of the British are out to misunderstand me and spread falsehoods about me” blah, blah, blah to be childish and makes me as an American here cringe whenever I hear it.

She got what she wanted. However, she learned after all the marrying Harry hoopla had died down that being a British royal wasn’t actually like being a fantasy princess. Upon making the shocking discoveries that in the scheme of things she was long-term to be basically another supporting player like the Countess of Wessex and not “the star of the show” Princess Diana, and that being a royal supported by the State actually entails WORK, Ms. California clearly did not have the personal fortitude and true sense of duty to throw herself into her new role in the manner of a Princess Grace of Monaco (another American actor who in the late 1950s married European royalty) and do what was ASKED of her in exchange for all of that money, the stately homes, the staff, and the curtsying to her when she walked into a room.

The BBC has the entire – up to January 2020 – silly soap opera outlined nicely. But our world of March 2021 is vastly different from that of 12 months ago. Of far larger concern than her “Look at me!… Wait, STOP LOOKING AT ME!” nonsense, in the year since announcing she wanted to “step back” from her royal duties, 120,000 British have died of COVID-19 as have some 520,000 Americans. Public whinging now over her “struggles” is even more embarrassing and clueless (and even unseemly) than it was a year ago.

[Photo by me, Potton, England, March 2021.]

Anyway the pattern seems set for the immediate future. She wants to take public stances on what may be controversial issues, but does not like criticism. She will also every so often look to do a high profile interview about how oh, so terribly unfairly she was treated (again, a lot like Wallis Simpson evidently thought, but who at least mostly kept her mouth publicly shut) here in Britain and particularly about how she also desires her privacy be respected.

My uncle you know appeared on the original Oprah Winfrey show a few times in the late 1980s and 1990s to push his books. It was good for sales. The path to removing yourself from the blinding spotlight of unwanted publicity is NOT to do an Oprah interview on CBS on a Sunday evening and anyone with half a brain knows that.

I promise if she springs a genuine surprise or two on us on Sunday/Monday – it is being shown here on Monday evening – that I will email you again and offer another mea culpa. But I am confident she won’t. Don’t kid yourself: this interview is an “info-mercial” aiming to generate her and her husband more income. (If some new venture is not mentioned, I will be stunned.)

You should know by now, never ask me what I think. Eh, at least she has given us something to talk about beside COVID. I have a book to write, and some stuff to do around the house here, and I don’t have staff, so that’s enough about her. And you, you must have something to do on a Saturday morning when you open this in the States other than drinking. LOL!

Regards,
RJ

P.S. Whatever you do, don’t post this email on the internet!