Last year, I wryly noted in this blog that a future former friend (whose delusional tendencies border on the certifiable) had once caused me to make a spectacularly unsuccessful speculative investment. At that time, I wrote that the director of the company at the heart of that investment had already prepared a shopping list of luxury purchases for when the company took off and made everyone (including, possibly, me, but especially him) rich to varying degrees.
One of those luxuries was to buy a title of nobility from Italy’s former royal family, the House of Savoy.
That would-be noble is apparently dead now, so I will never get the chance to tell him that he was already 80% of a Count in my book, he merely needed to buy a vowel. A minor regret.
But I suppose, in the current context of nomenclature amongst the upper classes, it is fortunate indeed that the British use the title Earl instead of the continental equivalent of Count.
The breaking news that Prince Harry and his wife decided not to allow their son Archie the immediate usage of the Sussex subsidiary title Earl of Dumbarton not because they wanted him to have a normal life (well, as normal as you can have with the House of Windsor on one side, and a horde of grasping vulgarians from a trailer park on the other), but because that title contained the word ‘Dumb’ in it appears even more salient to me given my above brush with would-be nobility.
After all, imagine what a Count of Dumbarton would get called at prep school….
Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge supporter of the current constitutional monarchy in Australia and the rest of the former British Empire (may the sun never set on it!). In my mother’s eyes, Prince Harry, even now, can do no wrong. The 2019 Prince Harry calendar I bought her for a Christmas present still hangs on her wall in its plastic wrapping because it is too valuable to use.
But the delusions and pretensions and mixed messages emanating from the Sussex’s Californian Court in Self-Imposed Exile are starting to wear thin with me.
On the one hand, we are told that the Sussexes want to live a life away from the toxic media glare of the British press. And on the other, they are making a much larger media spectacle of themselves through their interviews with people such as Oprah, their special media deals (of course those based on their unique talents, rather than the fraying affiliation with the other descendants of William The Conqueror), and their pattern of leaking their side of their supposedly confidential interactions with Prince Harry’s family to their favourite royal correspondents, such as the oddly named Omid Scobie.
I use the word ‘correspondent’ rather than ‘journalist’ intentionally here, as I cannot consider someone who uncritically reports whatever crumbs are handed to them, regardless of whether they are true or contradicted by evidence to the contrary, as meriting the title ‘journalist’. Omid Scobie may have now become undeservedly rich on writing ‘Finding Freedom’ on behalf of the Sussexes, rather than in attempting other works of Science Fiction, but he has not earned the title of journalist, although perhaps we could confer on him the sort of variation on Count of Dumbarton which the Duchess of Sussex’s fecund imagination could easily come up with.
A number of apparently awful people on the Markle side of the family have tried to cash in on their family’s leading light’s rise to fame. The half-sister whose memoir is titled ‘The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister – Volume One’ springs to mind. Less well known is the TV producer ex-husband, Trevor Engelsson, who was working on trying to get a TV show off the ground about a man whose wife leaves him for a British prince. Thomas Markle, to his credit, seems to be playing Falstaff in this drama without any overt profit motive.
However, with every multi-million dollar deal, every mixed message about abandoning the privileges that come from being part of the Windsors, and every inherent contradiction about why their children do not have titles and whether or not or why they want or don’t want them to have them (FYI Lilibet, as daughter of a Duke, is entitled to be called Lady, and any further sons that may come along are entitled to the courtesy title Lord), the Meghan Markle show is starting to resemble not so much a Court in Exile as a circus, complete with tightrope walkers galore and a few clowns. I am just not too sure who is the ring master.