coping with the stars
Reviewed in the United States on 6 July 2020
The investigative reporter Dylan Howard has a book about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's
"Megxit". One of his sources, Lady Colin Campbell, also has a book on the topic, but this one came
out a few weeks earlier.
Trump's speech at Mount Rushmore, probably by Stephen Miller, talked about the current movement
of tearing down and vandalizing statues, representing a repudiation of much of our American history.
Pat Buchanan has warned about this for decades, and back in the 80s, Jesse Jackson chanted that
"Western Civ has got to go". On Morning Joe today, Mike Barnicle described the four Rushmore presidents
as among the greatest, but Yamiche Alcindor felt the need to attack Washington and Jefferson as
slaveholders, and described racism as America's original sin.
This has implications for educational curricula. There have been new authors added to the canon, such
as Toni Morrison. But we need Bill Shakespeare. As Joe Sobran put it, the Bard seems to know us better
than we know ourselves. Stephen Jay Gould, a biologist from the other side of the brain, said that we
need Shakespeare, just as in biology you can add to Darwin but you can't go beyond him. In physics,
you have string theory and quantum mechanics, but you still need Einstein and Newton as the foundation.
Shakespeare shows the universals of human nature, and while a master of the English language, has
been equally popular translated into German and other tongues. His stories take place in Denmark,
Scotland, Italy, but not America. So for Dylan Howard's narrative, we encounter America, a foreign
ally and rival (from the British perspective) where Churchill passed the torch of leadership to Truman
and others. Many of Shakespeare's stories deal with royals, whether famous like Hamlet or obscure
like Henry IV or whatever. Just as Romeo and Juliet is better when you're a high school freshman,
the story of William and Harry, Kate and Meghan, with Diana in the background, is fascinating for
Gen X and 30s millenials.
Howard begins with the events of the past four or five years with Harry and Meghan. Then he goes
back to the early 20th century, when the King abdicated and married an American divorcee. The
figure of Queen Elizabeth has been in the scenery of our lives, serving with honor, dignity and
stability and faith for generations. Her husband Prince Philip is sort of a Trumpian comical figure who
likes to say crazy stuff. Their son Prince Andrew has had recent problems with the Epstein case, and
Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson provided tabloid fodder in our youth.
Now we come to the tragedy of Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Camilla, the woman that
Charles loved. Charles has been maligned for many years, but Howard shows how he is a man
of some intellectual and humanistic substance, who struggled with his royalty like any of these
people. Diana, notwithstanding the good things that she did, is a tragic figure who had little
chance to overcome the demons of her fate.
Finally there is our generation with William and Harry, "the heir and the spare", who were traumatized
by the instability and death of Diana. Harry was the bad boy and known for his wild friends, while
Kate had her sister Pippa.
The protagonist, of course, is Meghan, who is portrayed as manipulating the vulnerable and insecure
Harry. She herself was from a dysfunctional and troubled family, but had great ability. She was an
actress, successful in the TV show "Suits," but otherwise struggling to make her mark. While Harry
was free-spirited and wanted to leave his royal responsibilities, Howard portrays the current Harry
as not himself. We really don't know how this drama will play out. In the modern world, they didn't
leave their royalty, they are trying to redefine it through Hollywood.
Meghan has her political agendas (it takes a lot to stick out as a lefty at a top university like Northwestern)
and her personal ones, as the mantra of this book is- what Meghan wants, Meghan gets. She has alienated
both her family of origin and her storied in-laws. Harry, for his part, has become "the Prince formerly
known as a prince".
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