Voices: Do you really have to divorce your family to have a successful marriage?
This coronation has got me thinking – it’s more like a wedding, what with the presents and the glitzy guest lists, and the way it all centres around one couple and their children.
The majority of the coronation conversation to date has been about whether Harry and Meghan will be there – showing us that, despite being the King’s big day, it’s really all about a particular child, a particular son, and his very different wife.
A biracial, divorced American actor who from the get-go shook the unshakeable, centuries-old Firm to its core – Meghan blazed a megawatt trail: the A-list wedding, Megxit, that Oprah interview, the allegations of racism about royal family members, unconscious or not.
But, to be fair to Meghan and Harry, their every move signals their unity as a couple, above all else. They’ve stuck with each other, through thick and thin.
And it made me wonder: have they decided to divorce their families? Because it certainly looks that way to me. We all know Meghan divorced her dad, acrimoniously and perhaps for good reason, but this is a different type of divorce.
Harry and the rest of the royals – namely his dad and his brother – are split after a lengthy and emotional separation, filled with bitter correspondence. This will be the first time Harry has appeared in public with the King, Camilla and William since he came out swinging for each of them in his tell-all memoir, Spare.
In it, he criticised “Pa” for distant parenting, called “wicked stepmother” Camilla “dangerous” and accused her of sacrificing him on her “personal PR altar”, and – most shockingly to me – accused William of physically assaulting him.
As someone who’s recently married, does that mean I have to divorce my family too? I went to my dad to find out. “Oh yes, you have to divorce your parents,” he says – rather too quickly, in my opinion – when asked. “You have to do that in order to commit to something new. Prince Harry’s an arse, but he’s radical. I think he’s done the right thing.”
I think this is wise. You’re born to folks who, hopefully, you get on with. But it’s your partner, your be-all and end-all, who is the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Force a wedge issue between parent and partner and, I’m afraid, there’s only going to be one winner.
Your mum has strong thoughts on where she’d like to see her darling boy get married? Sorry, ma, bride knows best. Your parents have something to say about the kind of school, private or state, that they’d like to see their first grandchild go to? We’ll file it under consideration. This is not drama: this is the stuff strong marriages are built on. Even the pushiest parents, deep down, get this. The shoe has, after all, been on the other foot.
Harry, as he often reminds us, is a “wife guy”. He gushes about his wife. He battles in the courts for his wife. He works from home with his wife. His favourite smell, he told US chat show host Stephen Colbert this month, is “my wife”. Charles never stood a chance.
A born-again Californian, Harry will surely be familiar with America’s cringeiest bumper sticker epithet, “happy wife, happy life”. But in his case, it has worked out a treat.
As the historian Simon Sebag Montefiore notes in his latest book, Ottoman sultans had their rebellious sons strangled with a bowstring by deaf mutes; Mongol khans trampled their spares under horses’ hooves. A sumptuous LA mansion and a few Spotify deals is pretty cushy by comparison.
It all leads me to conclude: Harry has it right. Hot on the heels of his father’s coronation is the Sussexes’ fifth wedding anniversary. I know which I’d give top priority to.
Savour the tender moments you have with your darling ones, mums and dads, for maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, a special someone will come along to blot out their sun and reorder their world.
You may shed a little tear to know that your reign is ending. But, if you love something, sometimes you have to set it free.