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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

The Windsor Wall

A curve of brick along a busy road. Too high. I can’t get over. But I can imagine the kids on the other side. Charles. Anne. Prince and princess. I’d like to to meet them. We’re neighbors. Neighbors in that I live not so far away. But it’s an unreachable faraway place, on the other side of the wall, Buckingham Palace, guards, state dinners, prime ministers, kids playing, maybe finding secret places like all kids do.

I run my hand along the wall as I walk. Why won’t they come out to play?

Sometimes I think the royal family is like Days of Our Lives. A long running soap opera. Melodrama, sex, scandal. I ride my bike past these Royal lives behind these Royal walls. Margaret in Kensington Palace. The Queen Mother in Clarence House. These invisible neighbors.

And then later, Diana in Kensington Palace, the boys, the lovers.

“In 1901, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (a branch of the House of Wettin) succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy with the accession of King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.” Wikipedia

It’s been 120 years of Windsors. The royal bloodline protected. Like breeding horses or corgis.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there is a possibility — just a possibility, mind you — that this medieval selective breeding program might be racist.” Stephen Colbert

Meghan Markle sits down with Oprah and hints at racism in the royal family. Hinted. Spoke second-hand, third hand, who knows. I'd say it's a rarified type of racism behind the Windsor walls. After all, the Commonwealth is both a source of wealth and 60% people of color. That's a tightrope.

When I see the weddings and births and colors paraded down avenues these days, I see more circumstance than pomp. The national pride exhibited by the horses and flags serves more as a tourist attraction, like Madame Tussaud's or that national exhibition of global exploitation, the Crown Jewels.

There's no neutral ground outside the walls of Windsor. Crowds line the Mall and wave tiny flags at fairy-tale coaches, or they sip Guinness in pubs and curse them all.

The circumstance is the place these folks find themselves born into. No choice. A gilded trap. Pity them not, but also see the dark halls and the quiet, the suffocation of stale air.

The modern world piles up against the walls, and the family simply does not know what to do. Ever. With an abdicated king, a soused sister, a mangled princess or a racially taunted duchess. They act shocked, speechless, horrified, insulted, like nothing like this has ever happened before, when in fact it happens constantly.

We are told behind the walls of Windsor the rules are inviolate, when in fact there're no rules at all, they just make things up as they go along, operating from a mysterious and incredibly misplaced sense of elite morality. The morality seems in total the monarch gets to do anything the monarch wants.

Does that work in 2021? It barely worked in 860. That works backed up with absolute power. Behind the walls of Windsor, the only power left is social power. Meghan Markle, a child of LA, a Hollywood denizen, wields a more deft social sword than any royal.

When I was a boy, I learned to skateboard on the sidewalk by the back wall of the palace. Later I went to the rock-and-roll clubs, and drank in pubs on Waldor Street. We dropped acid and spent the night on benches outside of Kensington Palace. That’s as close to royalty as I ever came. Or wanted to come. I was more in the sipping Guinness and cursing crowd than anything else.

These people were ghosts behind the walls. Watching Harry in a Santa Barbara garden speaking of fear. Fear of losing entitlement? That’s crippling. No one earns entitlement. It’s granted. By birth, mainly. By breeding. By blood.

Blood doesn’t fend off the world breeching palace walls, the climate crisis, the social currency, the Tik-Tok exposure. It’s hard to breathe when your life's purpose is to provide tabloid copy. When something is granted you live in fear it'll be taken away again. You never earned it in the first place, so you have no idea how you'd ever recover.

The myth royals spin in their heads is they represent an institution that is bedrock to civilization. Whose civilization? In a multi-cultural world that's an open question. The answer never favors the elite. 2021 is world of mutts.

There’s an opening in LA. The Khardasians are yesterday. Meghan and Harry, how about you become tomorrow? Sussex. Oh God, what a brand. You can’t beat it.

Walls are equal parts good and bad. They can protect you, they can imprison you. Outside the walls we wonder how much we need to care about those inside the walls. It's easy enough to sympathize with a man who decides to protect his family. But it's hard to find sympathy for walls protecting an idea, especially when that idea is my blood is worth more than yours.


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