Last year around this time Prince William congratulated his younger brother Harry on his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle (now his wife). Harry popped the question at home while a chicken roasted in the oven, a detail that is relevant because where the British royal family is concerned no fact is too small for publication. Everything is a revelation, even a duchess shutting a car door.
“We’re very excited. Delighted for them both,” Prince William told reporters about Harry and Meghan during a visit to Finland last November. “And for me personally I hope it means he (Harry) stays out of my fridge. It will stop him scrounging off all my food, which he’s done over the last few years.”
This quote made headlines around the world because, like the roast chicken detail, it humanized a family who appear alien to many of us.
What’s more, it didn’t invite us to envision a lifestyle of unmatched excess in a palace of grand rooms, but something far more thrilling: a prince raiding a fridge at three in the morning.
What did he take? Leftover Chinese in a container labelled “Will”? Maybe he scarfed down one of Kate Middleton’s famous curries. Maybe he drank all the milk — or worse, drank only a little but left the carton open on the counter to spoil overnight. He seems the type.
Either way, if recent events are any indication, it’s possible Prince Harry may have raided his brother’s fridge one too many times. News surfaced this week that early next year, Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will be moving out of Kensington Palace in London and into Frogmore Cottage at Windsor Castle, roughly a 40-minute drive from the city.
This news has been met with extreme curiosity — as anything royal invariably is — but also extreme disappointment at the possibility that Will and Harry have had a falling out. There is no shortage of unverified rumours circling the internet about “tension” between the brothers.
Some tabloids insist the source of that alleged tension is a fraught relationship between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle; the latter, the story goes, is a free thinker who is having trouble adjusting to the confines of palace life. The tabloids meanwhile portray Kate as a team player who toes the line. Markle (according to the Sun) is “regarded as difficult and demanding.”
According to the Daily Mail, she “gets what she wants,” and what she wants, allegedly, is out of Kensington Palace. As Patricia Treble writes recently in Maclean’s, “To some, the former Meghan Markle is the Yoko Ono of Kensington Palace.” To these royal watchers, Markle is the reason for the planned move and the alleged discord between brothers. In other words, Meghan Markle broke up the band. Or, here’s another idea: Maybe adulthood did.
It’s a far less sensational and sexist explanation, but maybe Prince Harry is moving on from Kensington Palace and a good, long, scenic drive away from his family because he’s 34 years old and he and his wife have a baby on the way. Maybe they want to make love on the kitchen table without the knowledge that Prince and Princess Michael of Kent are somewhere on the grounds. Or as the Daily Mail reports, maybe they want to raise their kids away from the rapacious paparazzi culture of London.
Whatever the reason, it’s hilarious that in a moment where millennials who live at home with their immediate families well into their 30s (usually for financial reasons) are mocked and ridiculed in the media, the world goes into crisis mode when one insanely rich 34-year-old man does the socially acceptable thing and gets his own place. This should be cause for celebration, not distress and finger-pointing. We should rejoice, not mourn.
That said, from diagrams I’ve seen online of Kensington Palace, the place looks big enough that you could live your entire life there and never run into anyone you know. But it’s perfectly natural and healthy that a couple in their 30s expecting their first child together should desire to move into their own house where they can roast a chicken in solitude. And raid their own fridge.
Emma Teitel is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @emmaroseteitel