Letter from New Delhi
‘Welcome to the Royal Family; hope you have more success than me,’ Princess Diana may well tell new entrant Meghan Markel after she married Prince Harry, the second son of the late princess.
Outspoken, feminist and independent, Meghan must tread carefully to survive in the royal family jungle. Of course, her primary motivation is her beloved Harry who has, at last, found happiness after his tempestuous life so far. Much more than happiness, Harry is glowing with her concern, her warmth and her caring.
Ever since he lost his mother at the age of twelve, he was searching for the feminine receptivity and harmony which he discovered in Meghan during the sixteen months of their relationship. This bonding bloomed into commitment as matrimony.
Now comes the really hard challenge for both of them, especially Meghan for she must follow the royal code of conduct. This means making no political or controversial statements or showing any preferences, giving up her acting profession, no selfies or autographs, shutting down her social media interaction, and so on and on.
She must follow many rules to survive Oh, so many rules. For example, always following the royal protocol in public engagements in line with your title and your rank in the royal family.
So, this currently goes with the Queen first, followed by Prince Philip, then Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and lastly Prince Harry.
She must dress prim and proper in public. All dressed must be knee length, not a strand of hair out of place, no heavy makeup with dark lipstick and nail polish. Always formal. Cleavage? Certainly not. But Princess Diana got around it by holding her clutch to her chest when getting out of cars in order to avoid the royal faux pas.
The ‘don’ts’ include not showing affection in public by holding hands or kissing. Except the one after the marriage ceremony. A weird rule is not playing the board game Monopoly at home since 2008 as it got ‘too vicious’ for the royals. When Prince Andrew was given a Monopoly board game during one of his royal visits, he was forced to decline. “We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious,” he said, as reported by The Telegraph UK.
Always pack a spare black outfit when travelling. This goes back to the time when Princess Elizabeth travelled to Kenya and hastily returned to London on the death of her father. Since she had no black dress to come out in public in London, she had to wait in the plane until the black outfit was brought for her.
“Some rules make sense, like the fact that royals must remain apolitical,” wrote The Mail, “But others are a lot more absurd, from rules on how they dress and eat, to how the royal family must walk and even what board games they are allowed to play.”
It remains to be seen how Meghan copes with all these rules and still follow her personal goals. But unlike Lady Diana, her relationship with her husband is nurtured in mutual bonding and her top priority is to shower all her concern and love for Harry. So, here’s all the luck to the new couple!
Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi
* Published in print edition on 25 May 2018