News, Culture & Society

SARAH VINE: My memo to Meghan Markle – we Brits prefer true royalty to fashion royalty 

Dear Meghan, 

Forgive my impertinence, but having read your Editor’s Letter in the forthcoming September issue of Vogue, I had to get in touch

Forgive my impertinence, but having read your Editor’s Letter in the forthcoming September issue of Vogue, I had to get in touch. As you Americans are fond of saying, ‘we need to talk’.

You started off so well. A breath of fresh air, just the right mixture of cool and confidence, the perfect consort for the nation’s beloved Harry. Some of us were genuinely excited at the prospect of new blood in the Royal Family. We loved your story, your style, your sass. And, of course, we loved your mum. Still do.

The wedding was lovely, a genuine moment of national celebration. But as with all marriages, the hard work starts after you leave the chapel. And for you it’s doubly hard.

Because, not only are you learning to make a life together with Harry; as a prominent member of the Royal Family, you are also having to learn how to live with the great British public. And that, dear Meghan, is arguably the hardest task of all.

You started off so well. A breath of fresh air, just the right mixture of cool and confidence, the perfect consort for the nation¿s beloved Harry

You started off so well. A breath of fresh air, just the right mixture of cool and confidence, the perfect consort for the nation’s beloved Harry

There is no shortcut to the hearts of the British people. As all the royal consorts, from the Duchess of Cambridge to the Duchess of Cornwall know, there can be a lengthy trial period before we’re prepared to chuck the recipe in the bin.

And lately, dear Meghan, it’s all been a bit fraught. I don’t know who is advising you, but I suggest you ask them to stop. Because it’s clear they have very little understanding of the way the relationship between royalty and public works in this country.

Or, maybe they do, and you’re ignoring them.

From the poor handling over the refurbishments of Frogmore Cottage to the wholly unnecessary and frankly rather precious secrecy that surrounded the birth of baby Archie, to the Clinton Card Instagram pictures, to the haughty refusal to name Archie’s godparents, the past few months have seen, not to put too fine a point on it, a catalogue of PR disasters in the Sussex Household.

And now this. A guest editorship of Vogue featuring a list of inspirational women, half of whom no one’s ever heard of, many of whom are just celebrities, and all of whom have been seemingly chosen more for what their inclusion says about you than anything else.

A guest editorship of Vogue featuring a list of inspirational women, half of whom no one¿s ever heard of, many of whom are just celebrities, and all of whom have been seemingly chosen more for what their inclusion says about you than anything else

A guest editorship of Vogue featuring a list of inspirational women, half of whom no one’s ever heard of, many of whom are just celebrities, and all of whom have been seemingly chosen more for what their inclusion says about you than anything else

Meanwhile, you fail to nominate the one truly inspirational woman in your life, the Queen, whose years of selfless devotion to this country knock all of the others into a cocked hat.

It’s hard to see what you might have been trying to achieve with this ill-fated stunt. Then, yesterday, details of your ‘Editor’s Letter’ were published amid great fanfare.

Only, as ever, it was fanfare of the wrong kind.

The thing is, Meghan, people don’t have your ‘woke’ antennae. They may not share the ‘pain’ of a newly minted member of the Royal Family, who, as you explain yourself in your letter, wants so much more. Who lives only to ‘shine light in a world filled with seemingly daily darkness’.

As you say, to be a mermaid, one who has ‘no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living’. They may fail to rejoice in your determination. You want to ‘pivot from a perspective of frustration to one of optimism’.

And, to be frank, they may bridle at you taking the chair at Vogue magazine in order to show the world exactly how serious you are about showing the world how serious you are.

The thing is, Meghan, people don¿t have your ¿woke¿ antennae. They may not share the ¿pain¿ of a newly minted member of the Royal Family, who, as you explain yourself in your letter, wants so much more

The thing is, Meghan, people don’t have your ‘woke’ antennae. They may not share the ‘pain’ of a newly minted member of the Royal Family, who, as you explain yourself in your letter, wants so much more

And not just any issue of Vogue, either. The September issue, the most vital, important tome of the year, the one with the most pages of lucrative advertising and the most clout in the fashion world.

Put simply, there is a difference between being fashion royalty and actual royalty — which, by the way, can be just as hard work.

So, for the benefit of yourself and any new advisers, the arrangement is as follows: we furnish you with the funds and prime real-estate to live a life of luxury and undertake not to cut off the heads of you or any of your relatives.

In return, you let us coo over baby Archie and try not to get all shirty when we ask who the godparents are.

So far, we, the people, have fulfilled our side of the bargain. You, my dear, not so much.

Even after a lavish wedding and the even more lavish refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, the general impression remains that you see us all as a slightly grubby inconvenience.

Where fashion, the lifeblood of Vogue, is all about change for change’s sake, newness for the hell of it (and for profit), proper royalty is about tradition and duty, self-effacing service and loyalty — year after year after year, season after season.

Ask Princess Anne. Ask the Queen. Ask Kate. That is not to say that a monarchy cannot or must not move with the times — simply that it has to resist the temptation to be buffeted by passing cultural trends.

Fashion is the exact opposite. And as fashion’s most famous bible, Vogue exemplifies the transient nature of the beast.

It is the ultimate fantasy, a shrine to the impossible, to all that is beyond the reach of ordinary people — a place where £12,000 dresses are the norm and where £600 for a pair of high heels is considered commonplace.

Of course, royalty is also about privilege; but it’s a different kind. The privilege afforded to members of the Royal Family is not decreed by a self-appointed elite of editors and designers, influencers and socialites; it is the gift of the British people.

This is my worry, Meghan. This, I admit, is a subtle distinction — and one I sincerely hope you come to understand as you grow into your royal role.

Because the truth is, however much you and Harry may have a — perfectly understandable — desire to want to do things your way, the fact is there is an unspoken understanding between the Royal Family and its loyal subjects which, ultimately, you have to respect.

You will not earn our love by flitting around the corridors of Vogue House playing journalist. You will, however, earn it by being a hard-working member of the House of Windsor who, ultimately, understands that status and privilege are very real gems to be treasured.

Yours, 

Sarah.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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