But to many, they didn’t just miss that opportunity. They blew it.
The majority of the United Kingdom’s younger generation feels for Harry and Meghan. According to YouGov, 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds believe the couple was treated unfairly by the royal family. Meanwhile, for those over 65, that shrinks to 15%.
“The younger generation is just constantly questioning, ‘Is this what represents our country? Does this fit anymore?’” says Omid Scobie, coauthor of Finding Freedom, a book about Prince Harry and Meghan’s departure from the royal family, and ABC’s royal correspondent.
In the choice between speaking your truth in the California sunshine and a stiff upper lip in rainy ol’ England, Gen Z went with the former.
So that royal mantra of “never explain, never complain” may be outdated. “We want our public figures to be transparent, candid, open, and honest. The mystery of the royal family that made them so compelling in the past is now working against them because this very serious allegation has been made,” says Scobie. “The fact that they’re not speaking, or addressing it properly, only contributes to additional damage to their reputation.”
“You can’t just hope that it goes away,” he adds.
Beyond William’s brief denial, however, the family maintains mum on the matter. Queen Elizabeth’s statement, where she says they will deal with the accusation “privately,” suggests it’ll stay that way. Instead, the Windsors do what they do best: duties. Prince Charles stopped by an NHS pop-up clinic. Prince William went to a school in East London. And, in a poignant moment, the Duchess of Cambridge paid a surprise tribute to Sarah Everard’s memorial in London. It had none of the pomp and circumstance of a typical royal visit. Instead, the dressed-down duchess stood right among the crowd of mourners. Arbiter says this response is a classic royal approach: “Fix it by actions, by deeds. Not words.”
Queen Elizabeth, due to her seven decades of steadfast service, is a beloved public servant. But she’s also almost 95. What happens when her less popular heirs succeed her? The British commonwealth, after all, is made up of 2.4 billion ethnically and geographically diverse people; 60% of them are under 29.
The issues that Harry and Meghan have raised seem likely to have more staying power than the crises the royals have weathered in recent memory. So the question remains, and it’s being asked more frequently: What place does a problematic monarchy have in a progressive, outspoken modern age?