A&M British cultural expert provides context for Royal Family split

The British Royal Family is working things out—or at least putting on a happy face—after Prince Harry and his wife Meghan announced they would like to “step back” from their royal duties.

The queen marked her birthday with the annual Trooping the Color Parade. Her actual birthday, on April 21, is usually celebrated with close family only. (Source: David Bailey/Royal Family/Facebook)

An emergency meeting was called, and afterward, Queen Elizabeth II released the following statement:

“… My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family… We would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family."

Margaret Ezell is a professor of English at Texas A&M University. She studies British culture and contemporary media studies, as well.

Ezell joined First News at Four to provide cultural context for this schism of sorts. She says the conversation is complicated by the divisive nature of the Royal Family in general.

“Not everyone in Britain thinks you should still have a monarchy,” said Ezell. “[British Republicans] don’t see a need for this rather expensive and decorative Royal Family.”

Ezell says the historical precedent exists, however, for a royal to separate from the family.

“In some ways, what Harry and Meghan did was surprising—and the way they did it, in an Instagram post—I think was shocking,” Ezell said. “But compared to Mary Queen of Scots…who was forced to abdicate her crown because the Parliament thought she’d had a hand in assassinating her husband.”

Ezell says the decision by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is perhaps confusing to many because “who would give up being a princess?”

“But they are truly always, always being watched,” said Ezell.

A point brought up consistently during Meghan’s time in the Royal Family that she is a woman of color, and in fact, the first non-white royal. Some reports suggest that racist bullying have partially led to her and Harry’s displeasure in the limelight.

Ezell says her American nationality also comes into play.

“I think one of the things that contribute to the reason why some people are very distressed about Meghan is that she’s an American, and she doesn’t come from a wealthy family; she comes from a divorced family,” said Ezell. “Her mother is self-made. [Meghan] herself is a self-made career woman.”

For the full conversation, see the video player above.