The Power of Victimhood

I watched the very painful interview Oprah Winfrey conducted with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. As with a slow-motion train wreck, I could not look away. With every bit of intrigue, and every perceived slight, Prince Harry and Meghan were trying to throw the Royal Family under the bus. And then suddenly my perception shifted, and I realized why what I was witnessing was utterly important to the real world.

As an American who has studied a great deal of history, I try not to pay much attention to the British Royal Family. This is, after all, the same family our founders sent the Declaration of Independence to. Our country was founded on the notion that nobility is unimportant, and that all people are created equal.

In a nutshell, Prince Harry and Meghan claimed that they were the victims of rude, and perhaps even racist, treatment, at the hands of the Royal Family and their staff, and that they were forced out of the royal circle by the intolerance of the Royal Family, and of the British people in general.

In reality, the sole purpose of maintaining the Royal Family is to preserve an air of majesty over the British government. As Americans, we are not supposed to be into that sort of thing, but the British have had a monarch going all the way back to King Egbert, in 827. That is an incredibly long time, and I can understand how the Royal Family is an integral part of English custom and tradition.

The Royal Family has no real political power, but they do have a tremendous amount of prestige. The Queen is the Head of State for the entire Commonwealth, and as such, the Royal Family is at the very center of British society, and of the British power system.

Anyone who has watched The Crown has some idea of the level of training it took to get Princess Dianna ready to serve as the Princess of Wales. Princess Dianna was raised as a low-level royal, so while she may have been grossly unprepared to assume the role of future Queen, she was raised with all of the regal rules associated with being a lower-level royal figure.

Imagine taking an American actress from humble beginnings, and asking her to enter the same role. Now, Meghan was not marrying the Crown Prince. Harry was once second in line for the thrown (if you exclude his father, through whom the crown would pass), but at the time Meghan Markle married him, I think he was seventh in line, relegating Harry to being an extended member of the Royal Family. That said, Prince Harry was still an important member of the Royal Family, and Meghan, by extension, needed to play her role.

Meghan Markle had a steep learning curve in picking up all of the customs and traditions she was expected to conform to, and in return she was promised a life of prestige and privilege others can only dream of.

Meghan Markle had absolutely no interest in learning how to behave as a part of the Royal Court. She wanted the prestige and privilege, but she did not want to, for example, curtsy when greeting the Queen. Suffice it to say that Meghan’s refusal to adopt to standard Court practices was front and center in the rudeness she experienced, and that Harry and Meghan were politely helped out of all official capacities based on her refusal to conform.

These are two people who sat at the heart of British society, in positions of extreme privilege and influence, and who decided to retire from public life rather than to perform the duties of their positions. Prince Harry and Meghan claim victimhood, but how many people get to retire to lives of opulent luxury in their mid-30s?

To add even more absurdity to the absurd, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were being interviewed by a billionaire who also believes herself to be a victim of society.

So why does it matter?

It matters a great deal. Meghan and Harry are not the only people to claim to have been victimized by society at-large, while being a part of the very power structure they claim to have been victimized by. Victimhood has become a very important form of political capital, not just in England, but in the United States as well.

Normally, those who sit in positions of power and privilege feel some sense of appreciation, and perhaps even gratitude, to live in a society in which they were able to achieve success. Such people feel honor-bound to preserve the pathways through which they were able to succeed, such that others can succeed as well. Such people feel honor-bound to use their positions for the benefit of society, and by extension, for the benefit of those who are a part of society.

Many of today’s political leaders believe they are the victims of the society they are the leaders of, and as such, rather than wanting to use their power to give back to that society, or to preserve it such that others can also be successful, they want to take revenge against society, and to tear all pathways toward advancement apart.

We are fortunate to still have a lot of leaders who love our country, and who want to give back to the society within which they have been able to succeed, but increasingly success is looked at as oppression. We do not give power to the oppressors. We cancel them instead.

Imagine if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had the authority to ‘set things right’ within the Royal household. We can have a pretty good idea what they would do: they feel victimized, and they want revenge.

How many people in the House of Representatives, the Senate, or in the Biden Administration, feel very similar to Prince Harry and Meghan, in that they believe they have been oppressed by the very people they now rule? Prince Harry and Meghan never had any real political power, but the people who believe they are victims of our society, who are also in positions of power over our society, do have political power, and they intend to use it.

Imagine a government that thinks its primary role is to take revenge against its own people. If we are not very, very careful, that is exactly what we will have.