Reading the news this morning, I (unsurprisingly) found that almost every article on the home page was about the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from a governmental crackdown on fake news to its potential impact on university admissions to a limited though important attempt at providing some positive spin on the crisis through an article entitled ‘Coronavirus: People making a difference’. However, there was one article on this page not about the coronavirus, featuring (again, unsurprisingly for the British media) the Royal Family, specifically Prince Harry & Meghan’s move to California, President Trump’s tweet refusing to pay for their security and their response that they had never intended to make such a request. Despite not having a particular interest in the activity of the Royal Family, but fatigued by the domination of the coronavirus across the internet, I found myself reading this article, and it had me thinking about the couple as transnational actors and their experiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
As we observed earlier in this semester in the cases of historical actors such as Eunice Connolly, one’s experiences of self can change quite significantly when moved across geographical borders. While, due to a more culturally contiguous relationship between the UK and the USA than, for example, Connolly experienced in her move from the USA to the West Indies in the 19th century, Meghan & Harry’s experiences of their gender, race and social class are unlikely to be as seismically impacted, their transnational movement could instead represent a more symbolic transformation. In the UK, as ‘senior royals’ within the British monarchy, the couple were entitled to certain luxuries as complete economic support from the British government and (limited) privacy from media and press intrusion, as generally exercised by the British media towards the Royal Family (although, particularly in Harry & Meghan’s case, this is becoming less respected and increasingly intrusive). However, their residence in the USA brings no such support and protection, as now formally confirmed by President Trump, and so financial independence is required to support both their lifestyle and their safety. Their transnational movement has facilitated this process of total emancipation, financial and otherwise, from the British Royal Family, and while they are unlikely to be stuck for opportunities to generate revenue in the USA, the move will likely mark a significant transition in Harry and Meghan’s lived experiences and an important event in the history of the institution of the British monarchy.
As their ‘Independence Day’ (as termed by the tabloid British media) approaches – the day where they officially no longer formally represent the Queen or act as senior royals – the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s relocation to California and promise to divide their time between the UK and the USA becomes another cultural bridge connecting the UK and the USA; politically (and perhaps naively) interpreted as strengthening the ’special relationship’. Their hope, however, is that life in America will bring safety and security to them and their family, away from the spotlight of the British press. However, although they will not be performing public royal duties while they are in the UK, as once-senior royals, the British press, and thus the British public, will always remain interested in their activities. Therefore, the extent to which this transnational movement will mark a permanent change to their lives remains to be seen.