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Harry, Meghan, Lilibet Diana and the mysterious smile of the crown

Is the baby’s name a heartfelt homage or a pimp attempt to captivate the Crown and the media?

By Francesca Parravicini

The fans of The Crown know it well: beyond people, dreams, humanity, the Crown must win over everything. The fabulous opening credits are pretty telling, they do not portray any character, but the crown that takes shape, like a gigantic living creature, that dominates the scene.

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Un post condiviso da Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@dukeandduchessofcambridge)

Obviously this is a fictionalized version of historical events, but one thing is true: the English monarchy represents a symbol, an entity, a sparkling model to be inspired by, which must remain firm and neutral, often at the expense of personal identity. A privilege but also a burden.

The members of the monarchy are called to assume a neutral role, they cannot express political opinions, they must respect etiquette, be above everything, but at the same time undestated.

A difficult balance, which was brought to a state of perfection by Elizabeth, who gave her first public speech at 13, when, during the Second World War, she found herself comforting the people of the Commonwealth on the radio. Amidst various ups and downs (such as the troubled life of sister Margaret) the English monarchy has always held up. But with the late 1970s and the beginning of the Thatcher government, a ferocious economic crisis and new values, the Crown universe began to falter.

And then, the woman who will change history forever, Diana. Of noble origins, but with a decidedly more pop and modern style, the people's princess was destined to definitively upset the already fragile balance of the Crown.

Because Diana annihilated all the distance between the Crown and the common people in one fell swoop and for this reason she was so well-loved. Because she showed the hidden human side of the monarch. And her tragic death, for better or for worse, made her an eternal icon, a sort of ghost that is continually evoked (even when she could be left to rest).

Now, to raise the image of the monarchy are William and Kate. This couple acts as a sort of bridge between the old monarchy and a newer and more approachable image (apparently): they maintain a certain decorum but at the same time are friendly, smiling. Kate is a woman who re-uses clothes, with an air of kindness, she is middle-class but still has a high-level background.

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Un post condiviso da Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@dukeandduchessofcambridge)

The real shock comes with Harry and Meghan: on the one hand we have the rebellious prince, often present on the tabloids with his various and possible misadventures, on the other we have an Afro-American actress, with working class origins, immersed in the world of entertainment.

A combo that brings a crazy short circuit, culminating in the "divorce" from the royal family and the move to America. It seemed that there was nothing more to say and instead the explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey arrived: the portrait that Meghan and Harry paint of the English monarchy is decidedly merciless, with cases of racism, indifference and almost bullying. At this point, the always silent Crown was forced to speak, issuing a press release expressing regret for what happened and the will to resolve the issue, especially the issues of racism.

The fracture seems incurable, even at Philip's funeral, the atmosphere surrounding Harry and William is icy. Then a few days ago, yet another twist: the second child of Harry and Meghan was born, with the name of Lilibet Diana.

For those who don’t know, Lilibet is the affectionate nickname given to Elizabeth by her grandfather George V and used only by the closest members of the family. Obviously a controversy arose: was Elizabeth informed of this decision or not? An homage or an attempt to captivate the Crown and the media?

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We don’t know. This is the mystery of the English monarchy. Often when we talk about the English royal family, the media use those dynamics typical of a normal family: quarrels, loves, relationships between fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.

But the fundamental mistake is that this is by no means a normal family. Like the Crown, it’s a symbol. They must stick to  etiquette, every gesture is studied. Even the details of the Queen's coat have a certain meaning.

It has always been like this, a shiny machine, but not for everyone. There are those like Diana, she was only 18 when she married Charles and she was crushed by inexperience and naivety, there is Meghan who often seems to compare her experiences to those of the people's princess, but at the same time it seems almost paradoxical his claim, that she had no idea how difficult it was to live in the Royal Family. But at the same time it is not difficult to imagine cases of racism in an institution that has always had connotations of classism and imperialism.

We sympathize with Meghan and Harry and their desire for privacy but at the same time we can find their act of washing the dirty laundry in public a bit hypocritical. The line is very thin and it is not easy to understand where the truth lies in such a particular family.

Perhaps it is impossible, too many games of smoke and mirrors, too many intertwining lives that are anything but ordinary. One of the most interesting thesis of the critics of the English monarchy is that it’s an unsustainable family system, which forces normal people to live lives that are anything but normal, completely detached from reality.

A system that is under various attacks, but continues to fascinate and intrigue. So it’s almost useless to discuss what the true meaning of Libet Diana's name is: we will probably never know the truth. We can only wish this little girl with such an important and heavy name a life that is a bit normal.