In the docu-series “Harry & Meghan” on Netflix Meghan recalls the reverence made to the Queen at the first meeting: but she does it by exaggerating, amidst laughter, the gesture of a “curtsy”, a bow, under Harry’s eyes. And sparking outrage in London
One bow too many. In the second episode of the docu-series “Harry & Meghan” on Netflix just put online (episodes 4, 5 and 6 will be in a week) is just one curtsy, a bow, the classic straw that broke the camel for many British spectators. And that has sparked some indignation in London.
A step back: the docu-series was announced by the dukes as a confession-truth about everything that didn’t work at the palace, after the Sussex wedding, leading them to the decision to leave their official roles and go overseas.
Accusations of racism and neo-imperialism – the series speaks of the Commonwealth as Empire 2.0 – are raining down on the royal family. With Harry criticizing a building where decisions are expected to be made with the head (“for a boy, this means marrying someone who fits into a cliché”) rather than with the heart: “My mother has certainly taken most part, if not all, of his decisions with the heart. And I am my mother’s son.”
The prince did not spare his father, the current King Charles III, when he said: «The most important thing for us both is do not repeat the mistakes of our parents».
But more than any other insinuation, allusion or declaration, it was precisely a bow that aroused outrage across the Channel.
In fact, in the series, at a certain point, Meghan goes on to tell about her first meeting with the Queen; and the husband remembers how complicated it was for him having to say, «to an American woman», that she should have bowed down to Elizabeth. The camera then cuts to Meghan, sitting on a sofa next to Harry. At that point, Meghan mimes a deep one curtsy
spreading your arms and leaning forward. A gesture that the duchess blatantly exaggerated (accompanying it with an ironic smile: «when I finished», she explains in the series, «I asked: did I go well?»): as if to transform the traditional sign of respect towards the sovereign into her function as Head of State in an incomprehensible move, completely out of time.
This is the moment that Meghan describes meeting the late Queen Elizabeth for the first time and how she did not understand why she needed to curtsy to Harry’s grandmother?
He looks a little uncomfortable about the whole thing#HarryandMeghan pic.twitter.com/H9qr7DqwHq
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) December 8, 2022
A delicate passage, also because it touches the memory of the beloved Queen Elizabeth: so much so that the same Harry — also according to the former secretary of the Queen, Dickie Arbiter — in the docuseries he could not help but show a look if not annoyed, detached. Almost – for once – to distance himself from his wife. Because Harry, who grew up at court, knows well that in that reverence there is all the sense of the Crown, of the monarchy. It is a gesture of respect for authority, and ultimately for the country it embodies. And if, of course, the functioning rules of the monarchy can be considered antiquated and out of time, they are also part of the institution. In this case, then, they are also part of the respect for the figure of Elizabeth II.
“This is a true monarchy,” commented a Palazzo source. “Harry and Meghan didn’t understand that it’s not about playing a role.”
And to understand the meaning of a “bow” it is enough to look at those images of the pre-Cop27 reception given at Buckingham Palace by King Charles III. Invite green entrepreneurs like Stella McCartney which the king welcomed with a hug… which the designer then reciprocated with a bow. Because this is not only the protocol but the very meaning of respecting the institution.
The fact is that probably the hierarchy – which assigns a clear precedence to the king and queen and after them to the Prince of Wales with Kate and, descending, to the other members of the royal family – is the element that has been closest to Meghan in her short season at Court. You have never understood the reason for that precedence dictated by centuries-old rules — the same ones that regulate succession.
As the historian Hugo Vickers explained to us, “at court the members of the Windsor house must be ready to respond, to appear when the sovereign requests it”. In short, there are no co-protagonist parts: only minor actors. The protagonists are the king and, subordinately, the queen. And even in that position – as Prince Philip experienced first-hand – autonomy is measured.
From the Royal Palace, no reaction, as per ancient custom («
Never explain, never complain»: never explain never justify), who has already guided the conduct of the members of the Windsor Firm since the time of the queen. No statements are expected from the Windsors either now or next week when part two of the series airs.
Yet, in the secret rooms of the palace, there is certainly another passage in the series that has already greatly grieved Harry’s brother, William.
It is the fact that «Harry & Meghan» has revived images from Diana’s famous 1995 interview for the BBC’s Panorama programme. Because William himself – in the light of the revelations of the Dyson report which had revealed how that interview had been deceived from the princess – had obtained from the BBC the promise never to broadcast that interview again.
Instead now that interview – stolen with the scam and which led to the fall of the love between Carlo and Diana – has been re-proposed to the public. Enough to imagine William’s anger at Harry.
December 9, 2022 (change December 9, 2022 | 20:07)
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