The announcement this week that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning to take a “step back” from senior royal duties has royal watchers around the world speculating about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s future.
According to one Manitoban with a lot of first-hand experience interacting with members of the Royal Family, life in that spotlight isn’t necessarily as glamorous as it might seem on TV.
Dwight MacAulay, who served as chief of protocol for the province for almost two decades, worked a total of 14 royal visits. He told 680 CJOB that each member of the Royal Family he met over that time had a distinct personality.
“When you get a close look at that life – when people see them on television, they’re the centre of attention.
“They go to their limousines and so on, and there’s grand banquets that are hosted for them… When they see that on television, they think, ‘What a life,’ but I think you could almost put a question mark on that and say, ‘That’s the life?'” he said. “It’s something I personally wouldn’t want.”
MacAulay said Harry had been working to create a “different life” for himself for years before the couple made the move.
“I think Harry has been trying to carve out his own life over the last several years,” he said. “He’s been very involved with the military, especially with the Invictus Games, he’s been speaking out on mental health, he’s been sort of carving out a different life for himself anyways over the last several years.”
MacAulay said what many people overlook is that being a royal is, at the end of the day, still a job, and one that’s under a lot of public scrutiny.
“I don’t think anybody really has an idea what it’s like to be in that fishbowl until they’re really in it – even Meghan Markle with her own celebrity and being on television and so on, I don’t think that comes close to being a member of the Royal Family.”
In his 20 years of service, MacAulay said he never met Harry, but he did interact with the duke’s father Prince Charles, his grandparents – the Queen and Prince Phillip – and other members of the family, including princes Edward and Andrew.
“They’ve all been wonderful. I’ve enjoyed each and every royal visit,” he said. “I liked them all for different reasons.
“I think everyone’s favourite is the Queen herself. She’s absolutely beautiful and stunning, and I mean… How many people do you know who are 93 years old and still have a full-time job? She is absolutely amazing.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, parents to baby Archie, said in their statement that they intend to “carve out a progressive role” within the royal institution. They plan to divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America, where they recently spent a family vacation in British Columbia.
Harry, 35, is currently sixth in the line of succession to the throne, while his older brother William is waiting at the doorstep, behind only the Queen and the Prince of Wales.