After nearly two years of pandemic, but with a Chancellor who seems intent on playing Santa Claus all year long, the British are looking forward to their formerly jolly holiday in two minds. Are we going to grab the chance to get absolutely blotto or are we going to cower indoors dreading the Covid which has increased for four straight weeks, bringing the level of infection to its highest since January?
What most of we shallow media types are thinking most about as Christmas approaches is what the Queen’s Speech is going to be this year - if indeed she is still alive by then. Notoriously hardy and stoic, she has recently been hospitalised and cancelled engagements, which is unheard of. Though she is a few years younger than her late husband, it’s not unusual for devoted couples to die within months of each other.
She’s had a rotten year - far worse than her ‘annus horribilis’ of 1992. Yes, that twelve-month period may have seen Prince Andrew separate from his wife (soon to be seen in the newspapers having her toes sucked by her *financial advisor*) and Princess Anne divorce her husband and the publication of Princess Diana’s memoir-by-proxy Diana: Her True Story and Windsor Castle catch fire. But this year has seen the death of Prince Philip, the pursuit of Prince Andrew for association with a convicted paedophile and alleged sex with a trafficked girl and the never-ending saga of what I coined ‘The Grabdication’ - Meghan Markle and her pet labradoodle telling tales and naming babies inappropriately. Monarchy is a grim business, conferring massive privilege on people who, with the possible exception of the Queen, are prone to all the vices as the rest of us - yet who must be respected by virtue of their birth. Once in a while a “commoner” like Diana appears, who really does seem keener on communicating with the people and raising awareness of social injustice than slithering about with multi-millionaires on yachts and private jets; true, Diana wasn’t averse to sunning herself on her boyfriend’s boat (what broad would be?) but it wasn’t her be-all and end-all.
In the rest of Europe, monarchies tend to keep their heads down in the interests of keeping their heads on. But a recent royal rift worthy of our own Diana-Camilla-Charles drama - which happened because Diana was a virgin and Camilla wasn’t and Charles didn’t have the guts to choose the *goer* he loved - has recently happened in Japan, where Princess Mako, niece of the Emperor, married a commoner thus giving up the imperial life of ultra-privilege she was used to - Makexit! But Mako’s rejection of luxury for love contrasts strikingly with our British bit of bother with *unsuitable* matches - that being, of course, Megxit.
Mako and Meghan appear to be opposites. One was born into a life of untold riches and rejected it, going as far as to be the first to refuse the million dollar pay-off given by the Emperor to female members of his family when they *lose* their status by marrying a commoner; the other grasps all she can get, hence the nickname ‘Me-Gain.’ And let’s not forget Prince Harry whining about being ‘cut-off’ financially by his father while well into his thirties.
Mako scorned the ornamental life expected of beautiful princesses and, rejecting the finishing schools where the Japanese elite meet only their own kind, attended the International Christian University in Tokyo, an outward-looking college founded shortly after the war as ‘the University of Tomorrow’ where insular Japanese youth would meet with their peers from all over the world. Students enrolling sign the United Nations Universal Declaration Of Human Rights; Eleanor Roosevelt delivered the welcoming speech to the first intake. Mako became an exchange student in Scotland before earning her degree at the University of Leicester, until recently working as a researcher at a museum in Tokyo. Meghan was privately and expensively educated - and then chose to monetise her beauty as a model and actress.
Meghan was a divorcee of 37 when she hooked Harry, all the while insisting that she had never so much as Googled her famous new boyfriend. Mako is 30 and met Kei Komuro when she was 21; they had an eight-year engagement whereas Prince Harry is said to have had a temper tantrum when his elder brother suggested that he ‘slow down’ - William and Catherine courted for eight years before marrying. There would later be attempts to somehow ‘racialise’ this advice - you don’t know anything about this dusky beauty! - but it’s more likely that the ever-rational William was aware that his parents allegedly met privately on only thirteen occasions before marrying. And look how that ended up.
Even palace courtiers admitted that Mako may have post-traumatic stress disorder due to the opposition by not just her family but many sections of conservative Japanese society; Meghan’s weaponising of depression and claims that she received no help to the point where she wanted to die sound unlikely, to say the least, in a family whose young members seem obsessed with the subject of mental health and where Diana had been sent to a long line of therapists. The Duchess of Sussex is such a drama queen that if she went on a crash diet just before a beach holiday to lose a few kilos, she’d claim to have anorexia.
Rather than spend public money on her wedding, Mako and her husband registered their marriage at a government office; she wore a pale blue day dress and carried a bunch of white flowers, travelling alone by car after formally bowing farewell to her parents. After the wedding the couple held a press conference in a modest hotel function room, apologising for any division their marriage had caused in the country. The wedding of the Sussexes cost £30 million, with the Givenchy wedding dress priced at £390,000 and the Stella McCartney reception gown a further £119,555. In fact, Meghan’s wedding dresses cost over half a million pounds - not including shoes, veils and other accessories. Flowers were thought to have come in at around another half a million, with a mere £14,000 for flags and banners. After which the happy couple told the British people that they were no longer able to live in a country mired in systemic racism and were off to seek privacy - in Hollywood.
Mako and Kei Kumoro plan to live in New York and pursue private lives and careers: ‘I am sure that we will face different kinds of difficulties - however, as we have done in the past, we would like to face these obstacles together side by side,’ she said after the wedding. Ken Ruoff, director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University, said that there was no way the runaway royal and her spouse would become media stars like Prince Harry and his blushing bride: ‘They’re not going to do that - they’re just going to disappear.’
The dignity of this young couple demonstrate that quality of character - class, integrity, whatever - cannot be born into or married into but only demonstrated by the Carl Jung quote ‘You are what you do - not what you say you’ll do.’ Whatever the Kumuros do next, we can be pretty sure it won’t involve Netflix deals, becoming the mouthpieces for vast banking companies and leeching off of the reputation of a family which they have turned their backs on.
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