Keep it in the family

Horace Camp compares Harry and Meghan’s rift with the Royals with similar events within his own family

The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex pictured together on Christmas Day 2018. (29323308)
The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex pictured together on Christmas Day 2018. (29323308)

FAMILIES, eh? The best of things and the worst of things, the source of much satisfaction and the cause of much heartbreak.

No matter how much each generation thinks it is different, the complex interaction that we call family plays out in the same ways century after century.

That old adage, ‘a son is a son till he gets him a wife but a daughter is a daughter all her life’, is as true today as it was when first penned. When two families collide they rarely become one and when multiple families collide it sometimes introduces toxicity which will last for generations.

If sibling rivalry isn’t always enough to pull families apart then adding spouses into the mix will usually be enough to do it. A very similar scenario to the one currently impacting the Royal Family happened to my own family and I can therefore sympathise with all parties involved.

Back between the wars my dad and his brother worked for my grandpa, who had both carting and farming businesses. Grandpa decided to come out of farming and passed it on to my uncle Tom lock stock and barrel for £1 a week in payment. Grandpa had decided he and Dad would focus on the horse carting work but had not discussed any of this with him.

He was a bit taken aback that the decisions had been made ‘behind his back’ but he enjoyed working with horses. Little did he know how my mum would take the news. She already counted herself as an outsider in this very close family and this was the final straw that broke her back. In no uncertain terms she, a very diminutive woman, told this big, strong farmer that enough was enough.

Having been on the receiving end of my mum’s tongue myself, I can only imagine the telling off she gave him when she was young and in her spitfire prime. She made it quite clear enough was enough and gave him a firm ultimatum it was them or her.

What a dilemma for poor Dad. He was devoted to his parents, even if they weren’t devoted to each other.

In the subsequent negotiations with his father he was seen as Mum’s puppet (you didn’t know the man if you thought that) and derided by his family because of it.

He did what the honourable man always does and always should do: he sided with his wife. To do that he started his own small business by buying an old cow partly financed by Mum cashing in a Penny Insurance policy that her mum had started for her.

Over the years Dad did his best to reconcile with Grandpa, which in some ways was a bad thing because eventually he moved in and lived with us and I can still recall him singing at 5.30am, always at the top of his voice.

Watching the Harry and Meghan interview, I couldn’t help but reflect on how my mum would have told Oprah her version of events and I could see the same uncomfortableness in Harry that my dad would also have shown. Pledged to support his wife but remaining loyal to his family.

I expect there are many families with ‘issues’ introduced when a new wife or husband is injected into the circle. These days there is also the double whammy of toxicity being introduced when partners are divorced from the family. I’m sure we are familiar with tales of children used as pawns in fights between former partners. I’m just as sure we take all the toxic claims with a pinch of salt and acknowledge there are two sides to every story.

Harry and Meghan are experiencing what many have experienced before and the sore is still raw for them. It’s just life and there will be blame to be shared by both sides in this tragedy. My own dear wife was not immune to railing at the actions of my family, which was so different to hers.

I come from a family of black sheep which resented all outside intervention. Rules and regulations were the chains that bind.

Her dad had served as a regimental sergeant major in Burma during the Second World War. Her brothers were service men. My family were content wearing mucky wellington boots and hers wouldn’t leave the house without a mirror-like shine on their shoes.

Like Harry, I sided with my wife. And I respect him for doing the same.

I just couldn’t imagine explaining to my wife that, although my brother’s children could be princes and princesses, ours couldn’t. She would have hit the roof and when I further explained she would have to curtsy to her sister-in-law when she became Queen then look out world.

The issue, however, is I’m a nobody and my domestic issues are of no interest to anyone, nor will anything I say or do threaten the institution of the monarchy.

Yes, it must be great to dig in the knife and tell the whole world how the royal family has been horrid to you. And the very satisfaction of shaking the foundations of an institution which has served a country well must feel great. Some pretty good advertising as well to support future money-making initiatives.

To quote former deputy Kevin Stewart, you know, the one who used to be on the wireless: ‘Two privileged millionaires talking to a billionaire in another millionaire’s garden in Hollywood about how difficult their life is. What planet are they on?’

Families have problems. We all know that. There will be many toxic mother and father-in-laws out there and many toxic exes. In many cases they will not be as bad as they seem from hearing only one side of every story.

But my point is that such stuff is better kept in the family. Mudslingers are not my favourite type of people. Is a troll the modern equivalent of a mudslinger? If Meghan had tweeted her interview, would she have been trolling the Queen?

Where do I stand? I’m with the Queen. She has done me proud my entire life and I wish her many more years of her glorious reign.

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