Sandy Rashty

The Royal Family is having a massive broiges

The family rifts revealed by Meghan and Harry’s interview will be familiar to all of us, writes Sandy Rashty


UNSPECIFIED - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout image provided by Harpo Productions and released on March 5, 2021, Oprah Winfrey interviews Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on A CBS Primetime Special premiering on CBS on March 7, 2021. (Photo by Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)

March 12, 2021 14:50

There was a time when the Royal Family’s approach to media relations was simple — and effective.

They adopted a motto coined in the late nineteenth-century by our first (and only) Jewish prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli: “Never complain, never explain”.

And yet for all its effectiveness, there have always been members of the Firm that have ignored it. More often than not, that has been a mistake.

Prince Andrew tried to explain away his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein in a toe-curling interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis. The interview was so disastrous that he was swiftly stripped of his royal duties and position as patron of multiple charities.

Whilst the principle often works from a PR perspective, it could (and often should) also be used to avoid a public family broiges.

If only someone had the sense to explain this to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, ahead of their interview with Oprah Winfrey. From a PR perspective, it failed. A YouGov survey found that only one in five Brits (22 per cent) sympathised with the couple.

From a family relations perspective, the figure must be worse.

And for those of us who have Jewish families, it was… well, let’s say recognisable.

Jewish princesses growing up in north-west London are a far breed away from the royal family, but it was still easy for us to identify where it all went wrong.

Growing up in a community where there are high standards, demands and an expectation that traditions and structures are not tampered with, the wedding planning process can be difficult.

Respect, compromise and accommodation of the many opinions involved can help alleviate the process, but there have been sad stories of Jewish couples that have become disengaged or families that have been torn apart as a result of the pressure that can come with planning a costly simcha.

The expectations can, and sometimes have, led to terrible broigeses — so bitter that they damage family relations forever.

And it’s clear the tension around planning the royal wedding sparked the disintegration of relations between the couple and the Duke’s family.

Meghan talked about her argument with the Duchess of Cambridge, over the flower-girls’ dresses. The dispute left her in tears. She described press coverage of their argument as a “turning point”.

Reflecting on the multi-million pound taxpayer-funded wedding in Windsor, she said it “wasn’t our day, this was the day planned for the world”. So strong was the feeling, the couple said they had a secret ceremony three days before the televised wedding.

Clearly, the wedding planning still stings. Almost three years on, the couple are still complaining about their show wedding. And not just to each other, or even the in-laws, but to the entire planet.

The week before the wedding was “really hard”, they tell us, as a result of the Duchess’ father giving media interviews. Meghan and Harry’s considered response is to talk to the world’s most famous celebrity interviewer about intimate family issues.

Instead of using the platform to explain royal protocol, Prince Harry described his family — his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William, both future kings — as “trapped” in the institution.

But still, he said, he hoped to rebuild relations with them one day.

How must the head of the family have felt? The Queen has spent more than 70 years committed to the institution that her grandson so easily berated.

Despite apparently working hard to avoid the broiges by keeping up relations with the couple, today she cannot know whether the relationships between some of the most important men in her life can ever be healed.

As for the rest of us: my great auntie vowed to boycott the programme out of loyalty to The Queen. (Although that didn’t stop her offering her opinion through capital letters and emojis with regular updates on our family’s international WhatsApp group.)

I wonder if The Queen did the same?

March 12, 2021 14:50

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