Imagine being born into a life of privilege where money is no object, opportunity is yours for the taking, and universal respect is nothing short of a birthright. Just think about how great it would feel knowing that you would never have to worry about your financial security, your kids’ futures, or how to climb up the next rung on the career ladder.
If that were your life, you would have to be crazy to give it up, right? I mean, why on Earth would you?
Well, that’s just one of the questions being directed at UK’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. Earlier this month, the couple shocked not just the public, but the British Royal Family itself, by taking to Instagram to announce their intention to step back as senior royals and become what they described as “financially independent”.
All the money and then some
Assuming it goes ahead as planned, the unprecedented step will see the couple split their time between the UK and Canada, though there are many issues to be ironed out first - not least who will pay for their 24-hour security as they go about their new life on civvy street.
It’s easy to be cynical here. I mean, between them, the English prince and Meghan, a successful actress in her own right, likely have more savings in the bank than most people dream of amassing in a lifetime. And let’s face it, media interviews, guest appearances and keynote speeches won’t be hard to come by should they need the pocket money.
An exit strategy
However, whatever you might think of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, you have to admire their decision to give up the easy life and step out into uncharted territory. After months of soul searching, they have made the decision to create a new future – a future that fits with their own ambitions, not those of the influencers who surround them.
Since getting married in 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been open about their struggle with public life, they have followed their convictions despite relentless media criticism, and have found a constructive way to fix the problems they face.
Cut the chord
In some ways it sounds simple, but their decisive move has taken guts. After all, Harry and Meghan aren’t just forsaking their status and duties as senior royals, they are doing something that is, quite frankly, far scarier. In addition to relinquishing some of the riches and privileges that accompany royal life, they are going against the wishes of their family – on the British side at least.
The worry of disappointing granny is a feeling that many of us can identify with, but when granny happens to also be the longest reigning British monarch, it’s safe to assume that for Prince Harry, the decision has weighed particularly heavy.
Here, the 93-year-old monarch deserves respect too. After being blindsided by her grandson’s public announcement, her handling of the situation amounts to a masterclass in leadership. In the face of public crisis, her no-nonsense approach brought senior family members, including Prince Charles and Prince William, to the table with almost immediate effect.
Meanwhile, her insistence that an amiable arrangement be reached within days as opposed to weeks is likely to halt further speculation and uncertainty in its tracks. Most importantly of all, while preserving the integrity of the Royal Family as an institution, by all accounts she has taken the greatest of care to preserve the personal relationship with someone she holds dear.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to map out their own destiny might be without precedent in the royal history books, but the truth is, it is pretty rare in “normal life” too. How many of us choose to stay safely inside our comfort zones and forsake our true goals for an easy life?
Whatever your title and responsibilities, in the pursuit of ultimate ambition, sometimes there is no alternative but to rock the boat and head out into the storm, no matter how big the waves.