The Royals and Me

January 29th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 22 comments

Initially, I didn’t think that Harry and Meghan’s choices had much to do with me. Yes, like many other people, articles about England’s royal family catch my attention, but I don’t particularly seek them out. My limited interest in TV means that I’m not sure if Meghan Markle’s show Suits was about a) a law firm b) a fashion house or c) neither of the above. I had not heard of her until she got engaged to a prince and I have too much going on in my own life to spend even a few minutes obsessing about hers. However, I have been rethinking my initial reaction.

I have to admit that as soon as the ex-HRH (his/her royal highness) couple began showing up on the Saanich Peninsula, just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, I started paying closer attention. That is my family’s “happy place” where we have spent many wonderful summers, and we really don’t want it to get a lot of attention. But that wasn’t what made me change my mind.

An article contrasting Kate Middleton’s and Meghan Markle’s adjustment to life as a royal set me thinking. While neither grew up in the palace, Kate accepted her chosen life circumstances and has been graciously enhancing the monarchy while Meghan has taken a  different direction. Perhaps, the contrast between them isn’t as disassociated from my life as I first thought it was.

Like all of you, I am the daughter of a king—or to be more exact, the King. Sometimes, that can feel restrictive. He has definite ideas about how I should behave in all areas of my life. While He has no paparazzi aiming to catch me unaware, all my actions are recorded on a Heavenly Hard Drive and may be accessed in the future. As His child, my words and deeds reflect upon Him. That’s a rather heavy load to carry.

Of course, there is another side to the story. The relationship comes with big perks. Choosing to live under His wing has blessed me in numerous ways, including most importantly, in my family life. While I have missed out on certain things in order to participate in His preferred engagements such as the Shabbat and Biblical Festivals,  the payback for doing so has provided immense compensation. Being part of a chain that reaches back through time provides a sense of security and belonging. 

Still, I have a feeling that I don’t always accept my position with a full complement of grace and gratitude. Part of me sometimes chafes at not being free to call my own shots. Do all the small details including how I dress or how I spend my free time always need to fit into a bigger picture?

To be accurate, my situation parallels Harry more than his wife. I was born into a family that took Judaism seriously. Though I know many who have heroically adopted observances such as keeping the kosher dietary rules, prayer and the Shabbat, as well as the laws governing interpersonal behavior, I personally was brought up in that path. My choice was to embrace the role and seek fulfillment in it or, alternatively, to opt out.

The comparison only goes so far. In searching for a life-mate to marry, my starting point was someone who walked the same road. I wasn’t looking to influence someone to join my lifestyle but seeking someone who had already made that commitment on his own. While the number of potential suitors wasn’t enormous, it was certainly larger than the number of born-and-bred royals out there. There is also no concept in my world for  “an heir and a spare.”

Nonetheless, we are meant to learn from everyone and everything that crosses our path, and that must include prominent people such as Queen Elizabeth and her descendants. All of us are born into certain families and circumstances. We are born into the circle of those for whom a faith-connection is primary or are surrounded by those for whom faith is a minimal or negative association. Sometimes, sadly, we end up with an aversion to God based on the imperfect humans who represent Him to us.

In the final analysis, we do have choices to make. Seventy or so years ago, there is no doubt that most of the British public felt hostility towards King Edward VIII for walking away from the throne. (Of course, it was a gift of God that he did so considering his Nazi sympathies.) Today, attitudes are more evenly split on the question of applauding or denouncing the Sussexes. Much of that reflects changing views about responsibility and obligation. Yet, rather than being a topic for twittering gossip, the actions of this young couple can actually initiate reflection with which we can examine —and improve—our own lives.   And meanwhile, if they left British Columbia for some big metropolitan area, this princess would applaud.

Aren’t we all trying to follow His path?
This includes our political and voting choices.
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22 comments

I wish, dear Susan Lapin I had felt disconnected from that news as you did. For some reason I felt distress over it quite a bit for three days. It was distressing that Harry especially had done a lot of things prior to the actual break such as not go to the family gathering in the summer with Queen Elizabeth or the Christmas gathering and in the latter, Queen Elizabeth actually had to call her grandson and ask if He and Meghan were coming or not. The announcement was also made of their ‘new role’ in direct opposition to Queen Elizabeth II’s express wishes for them to keep the discussions within the family private until a deal could be brokered. There seemed to be a lot of outright rudeness toward the Queen herself and that is what I found distressful as I was raised by my own Grqndparents and loved them dearly.. I also found it bizarre that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip (in his case until very recently) had spent decades carrying out their duties, Meghan Markle only months, Prince Harry only years and it just seemed ludicrous that Meghan and Harrry were “stepping back”. I thought: how can you step back when you’ve barely just begun “stepping up”.

But in the end I thought well things happen as they do and it was interesting to watch how it was handled by the Queen and I have so much respect for her especially for the fact that her family STAYED in London during the blitz and the fact that at such a young age she assumed HER role with such dignity and maturity and is still carrying it out IN HER NINETIES when Im sure at heart she would just rather enjoy her family and her corgis and the horse shows. And just being a person, not a queen. How DO you tell someone like that at a very young age by comparison you are stepping back and that stepping back is a ROLE. i cant fathom it.

But then I felt as an American well, some of my people at some point left England for Ameica so perhaps I have no right to be distressed and in the end I just thought I hate unnecessary drama and there seemed a lot of that, I too believe we are Royal who live in the love and awareness and authority of God our King and I DO NOT want to step back ever from that awareness and am so grateful for your reflections on that score.

Dottie Johnston says:

A comparison of our earthly family with our heavenly family is extremely insightful.
The thought that a spouse can lead one to take the values your family cherishes and just toss them aside is very distressing. I thought of Harry as a sort of Prodigal Son.
I do hope in the end he comes to himself.
And I fear for his protection, just as I do for those who toss aside God’s values.

Susan Lapin says:

Dottie, we don’t know whether Harry looked for a spouse who would be happy to opt out or if he was influenced by his spouse. Certainly, we all need to know what a strong influence a spouse can exert. That’s why marrying someone with shared values is so important.

Susan Lapin says:

Mary Angela, the Queen is quite amazing. As you say, her training went back to her youth and she has certainly taken her position most seriously. From the outside, it certainly seems that like a soldier, it was country before all, including family.

David Altschuler says:

One of your best, Susan!
Surprising direction.
Sensitive.
Demanding.
Generous.
Open minded.
I loved this.

Susan Lapin says:

I take that as a great compliment, David.

Joe Moore says:

You must be my sister. My Father is the same King. It’s wonderful to know that He cares for me and mine like the the perfect Father He is. To be the son of the King is not to be taken lightly!

Susan Lapin says:

Joe, one of the gifts of religion and believing that everyone is created in God’s image is a need to treat others well because, as you say, we are family.

Joyce R. says:

Dear Susan, what a timely musing. Like you, I am not a devoted follower of the former HRHs or of the Royals generally. Most of their doings are blessedly irrelevant to my life. I have nevertheless thought about their decision to leave the spotlight and how they implemented it.

I sympathize with their desire to not be harassed by the paparazzi, especially given Harry’s memories of the role the paparazzi played in his own mother’s death. However, the reality is that what they have done, and the way they did it, has opened them up to more hounding than they may have contemplated. The law of unintended consequences is merciless.

I do not sympathize with their methodology. Rather than deal with the issues responsibly and discreetly, they jumped before they looked. They did not consider the impact on other members of the family, let alone the British public at large.

I do not see evidence of self-sacrifice or indeed sympathy or kindness toward the Queen, who is in her 90’s and who is dealing with the poor health of her husband. Nor is there any consideration apparent towards Prince Charles. In fact, the former HRHs seem to be quite happy to continue drawing financially from Prince Charles’ rather deep pockets while supposedly seeking financial independence. I guess hypocrisy is universal.

I see their actions as further evidence of the breakdown of familial bonds in a society that values self above all. The example they set for young people, intended or not, is another unwelcome unintended consequence.

The situation is sad. Hopefully it will prompt those who love G-d and His Torah to pray that the hearts of the children would be turned to their parents and vice versa, not just for these young Royals and their elders but for children and parents everywhere.

Susan Lapin says:

Joyce, we can only look from the outside in, which, by definition means not knowing much of the story. However, they also chose to be public in many ways, which means opening yourself up for others to look in.

s says:

Hi Susan,
I think you made light of what I believe is the royals’ front and center reason for wanting to disassociate: the paparazzi. Harry hates them because of what happened to his mother throughout her reign and in the end.
Meghan was being treated horribly by the gossip mongers in the press and in the public. They did not want to live their lives in hiding or in danger. They didn’t want to raise their son that way. I can not blame them! I know the whole subject is a lot more complicated than what I’ve stated, due to her citizenship, her parents, her background, her acting, her personality, etc.

Susan Lapin says:

S. Not knowing the story is why I chose to write about me rather than about them. It’s not my place to either blame or excuse them. I can, however, see what lesson I can draw for me.

gail says:

I am amazed at how freely people choose to criticize Harry and Meghan. God hates gossip and slander , yet everyone continues to dissect this couples personal choices and air any and all opinions. No matter what is reported in the press the fact remains that the press itself is not privy to the real details and are famous for their outright lies. How about we butt out of their business and stop gossiping? We are not personally acquainted and they have not sought our counsel in their choices. None of us would care to be treated as they are- how quickly we forget. God bless them and may they enjoy peace in their future.

Susan Lapin says:

Gail, what you are saying is the reason I chose to focus on myself rather than on them. On the other hand, being born to certain positions comes with many perks and plusses and also automatically puts you in a situation of being an influencer unless you choose to completely stay in the background and be private. From that perspective, I can see that discussing this, for example with one’s children is important. For example, I remember my husband discussing a Valentine’s Day magazine cover that talked of “great love stories” of actors and actresses – but most (if not all) were adulterous. If we don’t point out to ourselves and others what is wrong, it quickly becomes acceptable and accepted. In this case, there is a relinquishing of responsibility as well as the treatment of one’s elders. I wasn’t looking to have that conversation with my Musing and deliberately avoided it, but I do think it might be one that should be discussed, not in a gossipy way, but pointing out that there are valid questions and issues to be raised. It is also valid to discuss, as you point out, how fooled we are by media into thinking we know a story, when actually we may know very little or even be being deliberately misled.

Bill says:

Dear Susan, how thoughtful a commentary. I follow the royals even less, so not sure what they are up to. However there was enough information in your comments about them for me to draw a conclusion ( as a 67 year old gentleman) to shape up . Which I think is the point of your writings , to all who , “have an ear let them hear.” I was careful to marry a lady with the same Biblical upbringing, which was important to us both. Now in later life I’ve become less steadfast in what I was taught. Dear sister, I lovingly stand corrected this morning by your comments this morning. A course correction of a few degrees now , makes a huge difference at the end of the journey.
Thank you!

Susan Lapin says:

Bill, I had to laugh when I saw your ‘course correction’ comment. As boaters, that resonates with us. I also just edited a similar comment in the last week for a new project that is in process.

Shawn Ross says:

I’m glad you brought this up. It’s common place these days. Because it’s hard I will not only not do it but outwardly reject it. Secular Jews, people like Penn Geliet (spelled wrong) and others. Personally I would make for a terrible Jew but I still want to live in communities that have good strong Jews and Christians. I will gladly be the community scum bag.

Susan Lapin says:

Shawn, I haven’t thought of this analogy before, but a lot of people say that even those who have questions on vaccines must be forced to vaccinate because the safety of the community depends on herd immunity. I would argue that, as you say, the health of the community does not need everyone to have faith in God and follow his direction, but it does need the majority to do so.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Shawn,
I want to correct a misimpression in your letter. Penn Jillette whom I know and like a lot, is not a secular Jew. He isn’t a Jew at all and is generally not religious.
You most certainly are not and will not be community scum bag.
Cordially,
RDL

Cathy Hieb says:

Hi Susan! I will re-read this message many times! My Sister, we are all sons and daughters of the KIng! Thank you for reminding me of this. Our Father has great love for us, all of us! Cathy

Susan Lapin says:

I was a bit shocked myself, Cathy, when I started applying this situation to myself. But, that is the only way it is valuable.

adeleke simeon says:

I am specially grateful that mine own Royal Lead will not allow any paparazzi like this worldly one to give me a hoot [mocking shout], He knows how to perfectly bring in even on His shoulders.

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