Voices: Elephant reincarnation, forced eviction: Not even The Kardashians can keep up with Harry and Meghan

There are now just two short months until the coronation of King Charles III. These things don’t tend to happen all that often and it will be, even for the most wearied and cynical among us, a significant moment in the life of the nation.

Not many people know exactly what to expect, as not all that many people who can remember the last one are still around. But it will certainly be a mass moment of national genuflection, of cap doffing, a general outpouring of Knowing One’s Place, and of simpering, whimpering gratitude for All They Do For Us.

So would it be too outrageous to just pause for a moment and consider quite what it is we shall all be showing our due deference towards? The royal family has always been the original and best tawdry reality show out there. No one can match them. The Kardashians cannot Keep Up. It’s not easy to see what follows May’s big season finale – there are unlikely to be any major births, marriages or deaths for a fair while – which does arguably explain why the scriptwriters are somewhat losing the plot.

The major narrative, as it stands, surrounds the potential attendance or non-attendance of Harry and Meghan. This week, we learn, they have been slung from their London “cottage”, a decision apparently taken by the king just hours after the publication of Harry’s memoir, and the vicious comments about the king’s wife, Camilla, to be found therein.

Harry and Meghan aren’t happy, presumably because Frogmore Cottage is inside the Windsor Estate, and so conveniently provides them with royal-level security protection, of the kind they’re not allowed anymore, and which Harry is suing the Home Office for having had the temerity to not let him pay for out of his own pocket. (The Home Office has made the not unreasonable point that police protection is not something you can just hire when it suits you, like, say a private plane.)

But also, it transpires, Frogmore Cottage is now needed by others. Namely Uncle Andrew, who the king has decided must now live in a slightly smaller but still publicly subsidised house, as some kind of punishment for having paid eight figures worth of settlement money to a woman who’s accused him of sexually assaulting her as a teenager with the connivance of a convicted sex trafficker and her paedophile on-off boyfriend. (He denied the allegations.)

No, Prince Andrew can sadly no longer afford the maintenance on his current digs, the Royal Lodge, because his brother, the king, has had to cut his annual pocket money to a mere £249,000. This, we must assume, has been calculated as the maximum you can get away with paying out to a duke who is very associated in the public mind with the word “nonce”.

(It should be made clear that Prince Andrew is not a nonce, merely an alleged nonce. The word “alleged” does a lot of heavy lifting in journalism, but never moreso than here. That’s fully eleven million quid’s worth of “alleged” right there, that being the amount the prince paid out to prevent the allegations at the centre of this particular iteration of the word “alleged” from ever being put to him in court. An eight-figure “alleged” – that’s just over £1.5m a letter.)

Harry, meanwhile, now appears to be on a re-promotion tour for his already best-selling autobiography, Spare. Arguably the main point of the entirely unsparing Spare was to leave absolutely everything he ever had to say about anything out on the public record. Not just to correct every story about him that’s ever been written, but to be so unsparingly candid as to pre-write any story that might ever be written about him again.

All of which kind of explains why the quest for yet more relevance has led to him appearing on prime time US talk show Stephen Colbert Tonight, to whom he has declared what appears to be a sincerely held belief that when people die they come back as an animal, and that he personally would quite like to come back as an elephant.

He did not elaborate on quite why the elephant holds so much appeal. But as a patron of several African conservation charities he will know that most elephants currently suffer one of two fates, which is either to live in captivity to be gawped at by a public unknowingly complicit in their misery; or to roam free but knowing that ruthless criminal gangs are after them. If the prince found his princely life unpalatable, he may wish to think harder about his post-death career choices.

Harry’s grandmother was loved and respected the world over mainly for not saying anything of any great interest on any subject whatsoever. She seemed to be a kindly sort, onto which anyone could project whatever they chose. But it now seems abundantly clear that behind the scenes she might have been working rather harder than anybody realised just to keep the whole daft circus on the road.

By about season three, most reality shows gravitate toward the same format. They bring in characters who loathe each other, they synthesise disagreements between them, voices are raised, tears are shed and someone usually storms out. But you don’t get a day off work when someone is crowned the new, official leader of the Real Housewives of Cheshire. The royal family is not really meant to be what it has become, namely a rolling soap opera. A boring, banal but bizarrely addictive guilty pleasure.

It’s sort of fun, but it’s not really sustainable, is it? On its current trajectory, you’d be brave to bet on the first coronation in 70-odd years not also being the last.