Chief Executive Officer
London SW1A 1AA
Dear Sir or Madam,
I understand you are the person, the chief executive, who manages the business of the House of Windsor. I have scoured your website – royal.uk – and diligently researched other sources. Yet I have been unable to find any trace of you. No name, no gender, no job title. Would I offend you enormously if I called you CE?
It has been confirmed, courtesy of Oprah, Meghan and Harry, that there exists somewhere in the 775 rooms of Buck House a shadowy organism known as “The Firm,” whose tentacles control everyone and everything in the US$28 billion empire of the royal family.
Today, I am writing, CE, with a modest proposal that will transport your creaky monarchy, footmen and all, from the 19th century – yes, those glorious decades when the sun never set on the British Empire – to the reality of the 21st century, to make the monarchy relevant again, and to give your Commonwealth of Nations some hope of surviving a few more decades.
But first, I need to know more about your mysterious entity, The Firm. Why is it so resented and feared by a nice young couple like Meghan and Harry? What has it got against young Archie? Why is it accused of insensitivity and even systemic racism? Why did Meghan, with Harry nodding agreement, describe The Firm as symbiotic, sycophantic and sinister? She made the monarchy sound like the Cosa Nostra.
Last week, Forbes published what could described as a corporate analysis of The Firm. It seems that the Queen and Philip have withdrawn from active roles as co-chairs, leaving the outfit in the hands of a shareholder committee of seven “senior royals” – Prince Charles and his wife Camilla; Prince William and his wife Kate; Princess Anne, the daughter of the Queen; and Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, and his wife Sophie.
There used to be nine, but the Queen’s middle son, Prince Andrew, was cast out over his friendship with the late American pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, apparently offended the sensitivities his fellow royals, first by marrying Ms. Markle, an American actor of mixed race, and, second, by deciding there was more to life than being cloistered in a palace full of “working” royals. The Sussexes took off for Los Angeles and Oprah Winfrey. Their interview caused a few tremors in North America and an earthquake in Britain.
My proposal. Reboot. Start over again with Meghan. Welcome her to the royal family, and make it sound genuine. Tell your lickspittles who work for those bottom-feeding tabloids on Fleet Street, that the Queen is delighted with Meghan, that she is a fresh breeze in the musty House of Windsor. When she and Harry draw large excited crowds on tour, as they did in southern Africa in late 2019, swallow your jealousy. Don’t begrudge them their popularity. Do not go whingeing to your Fleet Street favourites, as some royals did, that the Sussexes are trying to upstage the rest of the family.
When Meghan says she is feeling trapped in a straitjacket of royal protocol and the 24/7 spotlight of the media, take her seriously. When she says she needs help, don’t tell her to tough it out. Remember Diana. Get her help. And when you hear senior royals gossiping, as Meghan and Harry heard them, about the colour of Archie’s skin, remind them that racism is not “on” in the 21st century. Whisper the words: Black Lives Matter.
Now, to be more precise. Strike a new arrangement with the couple. Suggest they become working royals – on a part-time basis. Make use of Meghan’s celebrity, popularity and mixed-race origin by making the Sussexes royal emissaries to the Black and Brown nations of the new Commonwealth. There are 50 of them now, compared to our four old white members. Meghan and Harry can speak to the people of these 50 countries in a way that Charles and Camilla or William and Kate cannot. They can strengthen ties, build bridges, or whatever cliché you choose, CE.
Arrange for them to make one major tour each year of new Commonwealth nations. And have them spend a month in England where they can host Commonwealth-related events and spread the gospel of the Commonwealth in visits to schools and communities throughout the UK.
Finally, free them to spend the balance of the year in Los Angeles, living their lives and earning their living as they wish. They’ll be far away. Why should it matter to The Firm?
Oh, and give the family back its security protection – and let Harry and Archie call themselves “princes,” if they wish. What’s an extra prince or two among so many?
Ah, CE, you ask why should you accept my proposal? Because it’s 2021 not 1821, even at Buckingham Palace.
Cambridge resident Geoffrey Stevens, an author and former Ottawa columnist and managing editor of the Globe and Mail, retired last month from teaching political science at the University of Guelph. His column appears Mondays. He welcomes comments at [email protected].