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One cheer for a fellow in a bad spot
On Thomas Jefferson, family businesses, and the rotten choices facing a guy like Harry Mountbatten-Windsor
In Thomas Jefferson's artful words, the Declaration of Independence prescribes that even close bonds ought to be severed when they no longer serve the purpose for which they were originally intended. So it goes for a country, but perhaps so too must it be for a family business. Even if that family business is itself a country.
■ Much ado is being made about the upcoming coronation of England's King Charles. It's bound to be a rare spectacle, but it remains farcical at its root. The authority of the state deriving from the personhood of an individual "sovereign"? It's plainly silly. This one man, Charles, is of royal "highness" over "subjects" due to nothing more than the chance of his birth? It's doubtful that any but a few truly committed royalists really believe it deep in their hearts. But the show goes on, apparently by some measure of continued popular demand.
■ But beyond the matter of what monarchy says about a relationship between the state and its people, it's a terrible thing to impose on the members of the purportedly "royal" family. For someone born into it -- particularly an heir apparent to the throne -- it combines all the worst of several things which each would be approached with grave caution.
■ A little royal becomes a child star without having done anything of their own volition. They are dragooned into service as a mascot of the state, to be scrutinized by the public and have countless meanings projected upon their very being. And for an heir apparent, there is no personal agency in the sense of choosing their own destiny -- their real career path is set the moment they become an embryo.
■ Obviously, the experience comes with creature comforts. But even if the way he's gone about it might be questionable (who writes a tell-all book spilling all over their still-living relatives?), it's hard not to credit Prince Harry, at least a little bit, for breaking his children away from a chronically toxic family business.
■ Maybe there is no perfect way to do it without every part of the separation looking like a slight to the rest of his family. But a family dynamic like the one that runs a royal household really by definition cannot be a healthy one. Whatever else he does right or wrong, on the choice to keep his children both metaphorically and physically distant from the "family business" -- even including his father's coronation -- Harry is doing the right thing.