For someone who doesn’t like them all that much I seem to spend more time than I should thinking about The Sussexeses. Like gout, piles or thrush they seem to flare up every so often, causing pain and discomfort and then, when their work is done and they’ve made very sure you haven’t forgotten about them, they disappear back into the shadows and you realise just how blessed your life is when they’re not around (I am out on a limb here since I have never had any of those medical conditions, but I imagine they do little to lift anyone’s mood). The last time they floated to the surface was with Meghan’s bold attempt at literature – ‘The Bench’ – which was all over the news six weeks ago but was only published in early June. It’s almost like they deliberately timed their latest foray into the public eye to coincide, and again people have felt obliged to absorb the news without really knowing why it should be of any tangible relevance. Crafty little Sussesxeses.
Last week our planet’s crippling population problem was dealt another blow by the arrival of a new royal (well, kind of ex-royal now) baby. Meghan has very thoughtfully thrust out a little bundle of baby girl joy, no doubt coated with sumptuous, rose scented regal layers of blood and faeces. As one, the starving, subservient and terrified across the globe downed tools and raised their desiccated arms in thanks to some higher power for this auspicious deliverance, and then promptly went back to being starving, subservient and terrified as well as, inevitably, ignored. But back at the Sussexeses headquarters the fun had only just begun, because when it comes to royals it just isn’t the same without a stupid name.
Let’s go obvious first. There had to be Diana in there somewhere. If Meghan had continued to produce only male heirs you could reasonably suggest that one of them would be selected for immediate gender reassignment for the sole purpose of honouring the name and legacy of Harry’s dead mum. It is an urge, an itch, that Harry simply could not have resisted and so he must be exorbitantly relieved that he has finally found a living vessel that can serve as an ever-present reminder of that which saddens him the most. There is something crucial and loving in this gesture, but also a sense of desperation and of an unquenchably needy soul. Yet no sense of surprise. It is also a massive burden, to give a child this chain to wear – everyone in the world will know why she is called Diana before she does, and that seems unfair.
Perhaps more controversial is their baby’s first name, which is to be Lilibet. Nobody is called Lilibet. It’s the sort of thing a drunken gambler might say. We all know it was George VI’s little loving name for his daughter, but he should have been more careful to make it’s more widespread use an act of treason. Now the Sussexeses have chosen it for their daughter’s first name (because Diana would have just been way too tasteless, even for them) and so she will forever be a limelight ducking Lilibet Diana Mountbattenberg Windsor Slough Sussex McMalibu (or something like that). They say they asked the Queen for use of the name, but the royal family say otherwise; I say what does it fucking matter? What is certain is that we’ll be hearing the name Lilibet popping up a lot more in the future; it can be the new Jaxon or Jayden.
Ultimately what worries me even more is the way that the order of ascension has been rejiggled again and has thrown up a horrific reminder of what might come to pass if good people do nothing. For context Harry is sixth, but since he doesn’t seem too fussed about being a royal I can’t see why he should be there at all. It also turns out that if the first eight on the list were to die in mysterious circumstances involving ermine ingestion or a gold leaf furniture overdose the ninth in line to the throne is Prince Andrew, as in that Prince Andrew. Surely not. If that is the case we shouldn’t be worried about what ridiculous name Harry and Meghan have tossed at their new-born daughter but instead should be flabbergasted that Uncle Andrew has not already been subtly, yet very firmly, removed from any situation where he may feasibly become King. Perspective is a precious thing – we shouldn’t let The Sussexeses blinker us from the graver horrors that lie beneath all the glitter and guff.
G B Hewitt. 14.06.2021