The Sussexes are “stepping back” from their duties as senior members of the royal family. If you don’t know who that is—first of all, yes you do, because you clicked on this article, but fine, I’ll play your silly game: I’m talking about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Almost certainly the only members of the royal family in the past 200 years to have, and also deserve, the word “sex” embedded in their names. If you don’t know who Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are, well, I hope they have Google in your mountain cave, because I don’t have time to tell you. I have more important things to talk about—things like this completely insignificant, yet somehow life or death, news.
Here are five key takeaways from the royal statement:
1. I got my first text reading only “MEGXIT!” within minutes of the statement dropping. “Megxit” is an absurdly perfect word, a portmanteau within a portmanteau, and there are two reasons it’s right for this situation. First, because it succinctly conveys what everyone strongly suspects, which is that Meghan—the most nontraditional royal in recent history, an American, who is also a woman of color, who is also a celebrity, who has also been the target of incessant idiotic attacks from the British tabloid media—is the one driving this split. Second, “Megxit” works because the couple is, in fact, exiting Britain, at least part time: The statement says that they plan to divide their time between the scepter’d isle and North America, where we require no scepters because we have good pizza.
2. Relatedly, Americans are now 2-for-2 against the British royal family. Seriously, if you want to feel good about the emotional power that small-r republicanism still commands, please reflect on the fact that whenever a senior British royal falls for an American citizen, they end up either abdicating or distancing themselves from their royal duties. First, back in the 1930s, Edward VIII gave up the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, and now Harry, his great-somethingish-nephew, has given up—well, not the throne, exactly, he was never going to inherit that, but a lot of sort of standing near the throne in expensive uniforms. Sure, you could paint this decision as in keeping with the family’s recent commitment to downsizing—Elizabeth and Charles have been taking steps to streamline the ranks for a while. But the fact remains that for all their allure and romance and weird chins and castles, the British royals are kind of our personal Sideshow Bobs where love is concerned. Whenever we tangle, they go down.
3. It is wild that the Sussexes are not currently, in their own estimation, financially independent. The statement says that they intend to “work to become” financially independent. Which, I mean, great! Why live off the British taxpayer if you can live by the honest sweat of your brow? (As a journalist, I should note in the interest of impartiality that I am prepared to live off the British taxpayer for as long as it takes to determine whether I might have missed an upside.) On the other hand, didn’t Harry inherit something like $16 million after Princess Diana died? And isn’t Meghan, a successful Hollywood actress, worth millions in her own right? How much money do you need to be financially independent? (Again, I am prepared to live on the Sussexes’ budget indefinitely while trying to ferret out an answer to this question.) The family has said that Harry and Meghan receive just 5 percent of their funding from the Sovereign Grant, the money the crown receives from the British treasury, and that the other 95 percent comes from Prince Charles’s privately held estates. The crown has not addressed the more important question, i.e., WHAT IS THE POINT OF EVEN BEING A ROYAL IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A READY STOCKPILE OF SALABLE CHALICES.
4. The Lifetime screenplay absolutely writes itself. We’ve all heard the story of the prince who saves the commoner by making her a princess. Well, what about—and strap in tight, here, Netflix execs, I’m about to take you on a rocket to the moon—what about a commoner … who saves a man … from being a prince?
5. No one actually knows anything about what this means yet. The royals’ statement is long-ish but not exactly groaning under the weight of its concrete detail. There’s a lot of vague language about supporting the queen’s endeavors and finding their own path, but very little about, like, what they’re going to be doing on Tuesdays. If Gwyneth Paltrow divorced the entire British monarchy, this is the statement she would have written. Conscious un-crowning! But it’s strongly implied that Harry is not actually renouncing his princedom and that the couple intends to continue on a sort of royal-adjacent path; they’re starting their own charity, for instance, which is not something most people would think to do before achieving financial independence. The statement from the queen’s office that came out today was, uh, terse. We will have to wait to find out exactly what form the new royal reality will take. Most likely, the duke and duchess will continue to dress up and stand near gilded chairs, and also Kate Middleton, often enough to satisfy the majority of their kind-of subjects. And in the meantime, if there is any justice for lovers in this world, they will also get better pizza.