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Will Harry and Meghan's new life outside the Royal Family work?
LONDON -- A BBC news anchor interviewing a royal “expert” asked very seriously: “How will history judge Harry and Meghan’s last public appearance?”
The question was certainly overblown, but a telling indication of how people feel now that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have cut ties. Opinions range from pity to full-throated support for a young man who always looked more comfortable in soldier’s camouflage than a tuxedo. An angry young man at that, who has now pulled off a daring great escape.
I thought of Vera Lynn who stirred a nation and its beleaguered army during Second World War.
“We'll meet again,” she sang. “Don’t know where, don’t know when, But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”
Mostly, people seem to feel sorry for the Queen, enduring yet another troubling period in her family’s turbulent affairs.
The moment chosen for this symbolic family parting was Commonwealth Day, one of the most important events in her calendar. It was always thought that Harry and Meghan would take over many of the Queen’s Commonwealth duties in her absence. It was not to be.
Normally, the royals would walk in a grand procession down the aisle of Westminster Abbey, but even that was complicated by the new reality. Harry and Meghan were excluded from the procession, and to alleviate any embarrassment, Prince William and Kate were also excluded.
Royal watchers considered that a telling development. Harry and Meghan arrived smiling and relaxed and didn’t really seem to mind. Anybody watching for a sense of tension would have been disappointed.
It all went off as most royal events do, full of pomp and tradition and grace. The only awkwardness had to do with the spread of coronavirus, as royals and guests did their best to avoid shaking hands. Harry touched forearms with heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua. He seemed to be enjoying himself.
And then it was over, their last public appearance as senior working royals. They are still Duke and Duchess, but it’s a title that seems mostly hollow, as long as they choose exile. Will it work? They certainly have the potential to make a lot of money, if that’s what their decision was all about. It seems unlikely.
For the time being, they are Canada’s to deal with, or as I’ve been told a number of times, “They’re all yours now.”
Tracy Parker happened to be around Buckingham Palace as Harry and Meghan were saying their last goodbye. She’s from the north of England.
“Everybody thinks Meghan has taken him away from us,” she told my colleague Jill Macyshon, “but that’s not’s true. He’s his own person. He could have said no.”
And it may only be temporary.
“This is a transition period they’re entering,” says Chris Ship, the royal correspondent for British broadcaster ITV News. “If it works out, fine, they’ll stick with it. If it doesn’t, the door’s open. They’ll have them back.”
Cue Vera Lynn on a sunny day.