*heavy sigh* Well, it’s been (checks watch) a couple of days since Harry and Meghan have made colossal PR mistakes, so they were due for a new one. The last one, if you were wondering, was a video call from Prince Harry in which he said that each person on Earth is like a raindrop and when we all put our good vibes and actions together it’s like rain falling on a parched Earth. I am personally willing to let it slide because I think he had good intentions, but he was absolutely destroyed in the press for it. He was called a too-woke try-hard. Moving on, because there are new things to talk about.
A tabloid story came out last week saying that Harry and Meghan are planning on handing out (virtually, I’d presume, since California is under COVID-19 lockdown?) some form of end of year honours to people they think have contributed to society in a meaningful way this year. I disregarded it because it was such a dumb idea that I figured even Harry and Meghan’s crisis communications team wouldn’t have let them do it. There was just no way it could be true. There was no way it could be true.
But then I was wrong! It was true!
The Sussex office put out a statement essentially confirming that they will be issuing some form of award/honour/something to people they feel deserve it later this month. Please, God, make it stop. In the statement, they rejected claims that the award/honour/whatever it is will create a “rivalry” with Queen Elizabeth’s year-end honours. Which means they’re actually going to do this.
I sort of can’t wait to see what they come up with/whom they award/whether it’s displayed on a webcast/what the awardees will actually get, if anything? A thumbs up on a Zoom call? A donation to a charity at which Meghan and Harry once briefly volunteered and were filmed? Vegetables picked from their estate’s garden? Who knows!
This is such a bad idea that it could have only been designed by Meghan and/or her team at Sunshine Sachs. Let’s get into why it’s such a bad idea:
It looks like they’re copying Queen Elizabeth (which they are)
The Queen’s Honours happen at the end/beginning of each year and every year on Her Majesty’s official birthday (monarchs have their regular birthday – the Queen’s is in April – and then an official birthday in the summer, when people can celebrate and have a long weekend during warmer weather).
Twice a year, Her Majesty’s office releases a list of people who are to be honoured. Most people who are honoured are given an Order of the British Empire (OBE), Master of the British Empire (MBE), or Commander of the British Empire (CBE). You get a cool medal or sash, depending on what you’re awarded with. You get to meet the Queen (or Charles or William on behalf of the Queen) at Buckingham Palace and wear a fancy outfit. Here is the OBE medal:
You can receive a lower honour (OBE being the lowest but still nothing to sneeze at) and receive higher honours over the years if you keep making contributions to the United Kingdom. Here is a picture of my Scottish boyfriend Andy Murray being knighted by Prince Charles last year. He received his OBE in 2013, was announced as a person to be knighted in 2016, and was formally knighted in 2019, so that’s Sir Andy Murray to all of us.
Meghan and Harry making their own year-end honours list is strange because it mirrors so closely the timing of the Queen’s year-end/beginning honours list announcement. And making such a list is a weird thing to do because of point two…
It makes them look like they still want to be royal, or at least powerful…
By announcing an honours list themselves, Harry and Meghan are showing in the strongest possible terms that they still want the power and privilege of being royal. They want to be the people handing out the awards, the people doing the judging. They don’t want to be the people being judged, which is arguably why they moved to California to begin with.
The problem with this is that by choosing to leave the royal family, they don’t get to be the people handing out awards anymore. The reason why people accept and like the Queen giving out honours like the OBE, MBE, and CBE is because it feels like a stamp of approval from arguably the most powerful person in the United Kingdom, one of the most powerful people in the world. She’s the Queen of the United Kingdom and she picked you to be honoured. Her honours mean something, whether you’re in favour of the monarchy or not.
…but it makes them look even less powerful than they already are
On the flip side, I can rip out a sheet from my day planner and write “Master of Arts in Political Science” on it, but that piece of paper isn’t worth anything. The honour and title that come with that degree are not bestowed on me if I write out my own diploma with a sharpie and a spare piece of paper because that “degree” didn’t come from an institution with authority or power. Who am I to bestow something on anyone, even myself? No one, that’s who. My actual Master of Arts on my wall that I attained from an accredited university is meaningful because I took the classes, wrote the papers, made contributions. By doing the work, I gained acknowledgement from the school, which has the power to bestow a degree on me.
Meghan and Harry can give out as many awards as they want, but what are those awards worth? What authority do Meghan and Harry have to issue honours? The answer is they don’t have any. This honours scheme just comes off as a last-ditch attempt to prove to themselves that they’re as powerful as they have ever been. But they’re not, and we all know it. Maybe the last people to know it are the Sussexes themselves.
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