Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are kicking off a new career as podcast hosts, and everyone is thrilled — except, perhaps, for Harry’s extended family back in the UK. When I heard the news yesterday, I had a sneaking suspicion this wouldn’t go with the firm’s M.O., but royal author Bryan Kozlowski spoke with SheKnows exclusively to confirm that this is exactly the type of media appearance the Queen discourages, even for ex-royals like Harry and Meghan. Earlier this year, Kozlowski published royal biography Long Live the Queen, and he explains that, ever since the Queen’s 1969 appearance in documentary Royal Family, she’s believed it best for royals not to attempt to appear like “regular people” — in her experience, it only ends up breeding resentment.
Reflecting on Harry and Meghan’s decision to roll out a podcast in 2021, Kozlowski gave this analysis of the Queen’s likely reaction.
“I think the Queen would probably cringe. Acting just like normal folks with a ‘shared experience’ has rarely worked out well for the Windsors, even semi-retired ones,” he told SheKnows exclusively. “The Queen briefly attempted it in 1969 (with the unprecedented Royal Family documentary) which quickly backfired. Because ultimately, the point and enduring purpose of the royals is that they are not like us.”
While Royal Family wasn’t disastrously received, it was a cautiously-pursued project throughout, with the family’s reluctant participation meeting an equally urgent suggestion that their “relevance” was in danger. But once viewed, the film did little to enhance or overhaul the public’s impression of the family: instead, they simply saw in greater detail that which they had suspected about the monarch and her family, and, in having more to look at, found more to criticize.
“They (the well-behaved [royals]) reflect a magical grace and a dignity we can look up to,” Kozlowski continued. “They do best when they remember they are role-models; they are not there to pretend their lives and experiences share chummy commonalities with ours. That can get messy.”
Of course, Meghan and Harry left the royal family precisely because they no longer wished to be role models — and it’s not hard to guess who the well-behaved royals are in this scenario. Even so, it’s worth wondering whether Meghan and Harry positioning themselves as one of the people has potential to upset their fans. It may be the case with the British royal family; but in American celebrity culture, I’m not so sure.
Before you go, click here to see the best royal family tell-all books in House of Windsor history.