Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Royalty & Relevance

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was over a month ago, but I still see plenty of articles about it. It's really "stirred up" things in the Royal Family.


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Well, I guess it put "a bee in the royal bonnet." Although, I would not believe everything you read. Right after the interview, I read several articles suggesting the monarchy should end with Queen Elizabeth. I cannot imagine that happening.


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Oh, that isn't anything new. It's been going on for a long time; there was even talk of it when I lived in England decades ago. All the interview did was further encourage those who are already advocating it.


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At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but as I said in our Banter Bite, Talk About Getting The Royal Treatment, the Royal Family does seem to have "issues" in terms of race relations and dealing with mental illness. I can understand why people are questioning whether the monarchy, with its "old-fashioned" traditions and beliefs, is still relevant.


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But it's not like that's the only place those issues exist. Just pick up a newspaper, turn on the news – it's everywhere! Unfortunately, the Oprah interview put a very public face on it – The Royal Family, or The Firm, which is how the family and institution refers to itself.


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Who nicknames themselves The Firm? It sounds like a Netflix series, but with less class than " The Crown."


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It always reminds me of one of my favorite Tom Cruise movies, "The Firm," based on the John Grisham novel. Anyway, I admit I love Tudor history, but I'm certainly no expert on the history of the British monarchy or Royal Family. But nicknames aside, I do think they serve an important purpose.


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Especially in terms of money. It is big business, which may explain the nickname. According to a recent Forbes article, the amount of money they bring in (primarily due to tourism) is estimated to contribute $2.7 billion a year to the U.K. economy (pre-pandemic). That makes the $550 million cost of running The Firm a smart investment.


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Wow! Those are some pretty big numbers. And leave it to you to have a financial perspective, but that wasn't what I was thinking about. I was thinking that during the 20 th Century, the Royal Family played an invaluable role in getting a nation to pull together, and stay together, as they fought not one, but two, World Wars.


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I defer to you when it comes to history, but that was a long time ago. World War II ended in 1945. How is that relevant today?


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Sometimes the mere existence of a well-established institution, and its pomp and circumstance, can remind people that they're a part of something bigger than themselves. That there's a history that binds you. In this case, as a country. I believe the Royal Family creates unity amongst the British people, including all its territories, around the world.


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Maybe during the last century, but I do not think that holds true today. Just look at how the British have reacted to the Oprah interview. It shows how opinions are strongly polarized, and instead of creating unity, it is now causing division. In many ways, it is similar to the polarization caused by Trump. And although he is no longer president, the polarization of the American people remains.


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That's an interesting analogy, but it does point out how far the American political system has changed. It used to be, by and large, about public service. Back when I was in college, the best and the brightest went into politics. Now, I feel that for so many politicians, it's just a job.


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A well-paying job with good benefits that can lead to many other opportunities. I am sure some are still doing it for public service, but the funny thing is that there are so many other ways to make a difference – including in the business sector, and working for non-profits.


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Which is what Prince Harry and Meghan say they're going to do. I appreciate they don't have to be part of the Royal Family to make a difference, but members of the Royal Family were always looked upon as great role models. They represented values that were worth trying to emulate – commitment, love of country, honor. And I think Queen Elizabeth still does.


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What about the others in the Royal Family? Do they just not care about the issues facing "commoners" or are they merely out-of-touch? And, do you think it is possible to take something as old and established as the monarchy and make it relevant in today's world?


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Too many questions all at once, but I think the Royal Family can play an important role. But it will take everyone being committed to the "bigger picture" and re-focusing on public service – not roles and titles. I know that Prince Charles has waited his entire life to be King, but in many ways, I think the Royal Family stands the best chance of survival if Prince William was to reign, as he represents a more modern Great Britain.


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I know nothing about Prince William, but know it is not a function of age – but of mindset. Finding balance between your position of royalty – where you are Head of State but must remain neutral with respect to political matters – and yet understanding the challenges facing society. And, although not making the rules, setting an example.


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Which is why, as I alluded to in my More Than Just A (Royal) Family Feud post, it's too bad that Prince Harry and Meghan aren't still "working members" of the Royal Family. I think they could've brought a much-needed reflection of modern society into The Firm.


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Well, I do not wish anything but the best for Queen Elizabeth, but it will be interesting to see what happens to The Firm when it is under new management.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As you know, I love history, but I appreciate many people don’t.


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I am one of those people, so not sure where you are going with this.


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Exactly. So, when you first wanted to talk to me about the history of credit cards, I should have known something was up.


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Or, at least been curious.


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How was I supposed to know it would make a difference in my life?


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Why else would I want to give you a “history lesson”?
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Photo by mevans on iStock
Let’s be very clear. Autism has no correlation with intelligence; it’s a developmental disability (or what Black refers to as “DIFF-abilities”). And it’s a spectrum disorder, which means each autistic person has their unique mix of abilities, challenges, and ways of seeing the world (can’t that be said of all of us?!) So, as we celebrate World Autism Acceptance Week, remember it’s more than just awareness – it’s about acceptance.

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Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


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Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


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Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


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I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


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Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


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Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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