Patrick Jephson was Princess Diana’s private secretary for years, and like so many of Diana’s “favorites,” he has fashioned a career for himself as a royal commentator and columnist. He has a new column in the Mail on Sunday and it’s sort of a review/beatdown of Finding Freedom and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which… okay. I’m actually surprised that the Mail hasn’t dusted off all of their royal commentators for these kinds of takedowns. What’s interesting about this Jephson piece is that he actually has a half-decent point buried in all of the anti-Sussex sh-t, which is that one of the reasons Harry and Meghan left is because the royal family and the royal apparatus are so complacent. You can read the full piece here. Here are some of the interesting “points” I think Jephson made:
Sussexit shook the complacency: Unwittingly, Meghan may have sent a message to the Windsors that it’s time to break their suicidal habits while they still can. When the Sussex experiment is properly investigated – as it should be, by a conscientious Palace management – then deep-rooted complacency, conceit and confusion will surely all be found among the culprits. Complacency is endemic in the British Royal machine. Not that its dedicated, educated, liberal-minded servants don’t work hard or efficiently – they obviously do – but it has a fatal capacity for moral inertia when one of its big names is in trouble.
Other examples of complacency in action: Think of Prince Andrew, now twisting on rope paid out over years by a Palace elite that failed to take early preventive action. Think of Princess Diana, cast adrift by her husband’s adultery and left to swim or sink by her own efforts. Now think of Team Sussex, a geyser of naive energy that nobody dared curb for fear of getting scalded.
Finding Freedom’s significance: The book’s real significance is what it tells us about the Sussexes’ view of themselves. … If you want to understand how Harry and Meghan perceive the world and their importance to its future, this book is essential reading…. Just reflect, however: any Royal person can commit this sort of self-harming self-exposure, but most do not. If you ever read this book, you’ll understand why. Harry’s mother tried it, and suffered the consequences. Already the Sussexes are denying their complicity, as if anybody would be fooled by the authors’ wide-eyed protestations that they received little direct help. It would be understandable if Harry and Meghan now regretted the book, particularly as they apply for membership of the West Coast elite.
So will Sussexit force the Windsors to change: And here we reach confusion. British Royal neutrality in anything political is legendary, obligatory and rooted in self-interest. The Windsors’ constitutional raison d’etre is as a force of continuity, a focus of national unity hovering high above the cesspit of party politics. Lose that lofty incorruptibility and soon the peasantry will be asking why their taxes go towards keeping this privileged family in such astonishing luxury. And why it is obligatory to regard them as super-enlightened in everything from town planning to elephant migration. It’s a delicate contract, one which the benign mass of the British public are happy to honour. Usually. Until, that is, a disturbingly confident, independent incomer such as Meghan makes us ask what really holds up the magnificent, tottering facade of the monarchy. Granted, she may be labouring under a few delusions about her own importance and might secretly be playing a longer game for American audiences…Yet the wise will also contemplate a bleak Windsor future in which dire Royal finances, a scandal-hit Prince Andrew, a controversial future Queen and a looming change of reign may together conspire to make the Sussexes’ flight to the Golden State look positively prescient.
The shock to the system: But, if we honestly think the Markle interlude has nothing to teach the British and their monarchy, be in no doubt, the last laugh will be on us. Remember the inertia that has so damaged the Crown in the recent past. Think of the bright-eyed, mixed-race commoner who came and saw… and ran away. It’s just possible, if they heed the warning, that Harry and Meghan may be just the shock the Windsors needed.
It’s clear that Jephson has zero love for Meghan and that he blames her completely for everything. But I feel like that’s the spoonful of sugar (the sugar of Meghan-hatred) to make the medicine go down, and the medicine is a note to the Windsors and the courtiers: don’t let this sh-t happen again, you screwed this up, and you need to change. Which is true. Finding Freedom works on several different levels, and one of those levels is a damning story of how a duke and duchess were undone by INTERNAL forces within the monarchy.
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