It’s the day after the night before.
The “breaking news” announcement from the House of Sussex, that the Duke and Duchess would be stepping back from their roles as senior Royals, reverberated throughout the twittersphere, news, and gossip worlds, immediately creating two distinct sides: “good on them!” and “she’s got what she wants”.
The main theme of the backlash, so far, surrounds the wedding (the cost to the taxpayer), Frogmore Cottage (the cost of the renovations, to the taxpayer), the insult to the Queen, the rift between Harry and his family, and the UK tabloids.
Behind the announcement was also the subtle launch of an all-singing, all-dancing website – complete with a brand new “media” section – spelling out exactly what they would be doing, going forward, with regard to the media – in particular those UK tabloids who have been accused of hounding the couple, and in particular Meghan.
Twitter was going bonkers. Everyone adding their tuppence worth – and again, either completely supporting the decision:
@caitlinmoran “What other sane decision could you make, after the last year? It’s like some mad Wonderland race – you can’t win”
And others going absolutely nuts about how much of a disgrace the couple are insulting both Queen and country:
@piersmorgan “Wow. What a disgraceful way to treat The Queen. Shame on Harry & Meghan”.
Quite a few of the more “supporting” twittees immediately jumped on the mental health agenda, stating that Meghan had suffered enough, from the UK press (citing racism, lack of support and lack of Royal Family publicly defending her), and that Harry had clearly taken the hint and decided to support his wife by agreeing to remove them from the firing line.
All good – so far. However, I’m yet to read anyone acknowledge a few critical points.
Moving To A New Country
Meghan was born and raised in the United States before relocating to Toronto, Canada, for seven years. Working hard, creating a strong friends network, a seemingly great move for her professionally and personally. However the move from Toronto to London, UK, would have been a far bigger step than she probably realized.
I know, I’ve done it.
I relocated from the relatively busy Edinburgh and moved, to be with my then-husband, to the quiet Swiss alps. Yes, I know. Not the end of the world. But as an adult, with both my childhood / school friends, plus adult “work” friends, residing in the East of Scotland, it was a far bigger day-to-day living shock than I ever thought.
Leaving my job, family, friends, lifestyle and comfort of knowing who I was and the life I lead, to a brand new “everything” was a tough pill to swallow. And I know I’m not the only one. There is no question that it was my choice, and indeed Meghan’s choice, to move overseas. We both did it with our eyes wide open – but you really do not understand how it feels until you’re actually doing it and living it.
Taking it a step further, especially in the case of Meghan – moving from a job you love, to… a brand new position you know very little about – is another bold move. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult to learn on-the-job and to find your feet in a new environment without having a strong team behind you.
These two events, alone, would be enough for any new bride to question what she was doing. And to potentially wholly regret the relocation. It’s absolutely true, from personal experience, that you need at least 18 months to settle into your new life and environment. It takes a while to find your new groove and to start to make some new acquaintances.
But add into this mix a pregnancy and then a new baby and you’re on another level.
The Pregnancy and Postpartum Journey
Pregnancy and the postpartum journey are the most incredible moments in life. As a woman, bearing a child, a pregnancy will push you physically, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally, beyond anything you can ever imagine. The need to have a strong network supporting you – medical, family, friends, work colleagues – becomes ever more important.
Beyond the pregnancy and into the postpartum stage many women find it entirely different to what they imagined in their mind. Some women completely embrace this period of time, engaging in mom and baby groups, classes, courses, meeting other new moms, creating strong bonds with those who are at the very same stage of life as them. Other new moms are back to their working lives, juggling the age-old work/life balance between holding down a job, progressing with their career and carving out time for baby massage sessions when they can.
It can be a very emotional time and can often lead to new moms reaching levels of anxiety, overwhelm and depression that they’ve never come across before. However, it is more often the case than not, that new moms are living in an ecosystem that has a support network. For women, like me and like Meghan, who are overseas and with a weak support system – you are counting on yourself and your partner (if one exists) more than anything else. This can be a “make or break” stage in your life!
For Meghan it seems so obvious that she has found herself in a very unique place – marrying a prince and living an opulent life, but without any support. No friends nearby, no chance of popping out to the local church hall for the weekly playgroup meetup, no family (her own family) around her. A new home, in-laws, and the ever present media, has set Meghan up to fail.
If she had just one element to contend with I’m sure she would’ve coped amazingly well. Moving country, perhaps, without the quick engagement and marriage, and without the pregnancy, could have been enough for her to find her feet, embrace her new royal role, and make new friends. However with a new country, husband, new role, home, baby and very little support, it has become obvious that she is, at the moment, overwhelmed.
When you look at the interview with Tom Bradby (ITN News:) you can see first hand how tough she has found her new life. Barely able to speak when asked “how are you?”… she must feel like a completely different person to the Meghan from, say 2016 – strong, independent, popular, famous, actor, living her best life in Toronto.
New moms are often completely lost once the baby bubble has burst as they are in a position that is brand new to them. It is widely recognized by companies, governments and health practices, that stages of “baby blues” and depression can happen to some. What is less widely publicized is the postpartum anxiety and postpartum overwhelm. Both of these “conditions” can be hidden quite successfully from family and friends. The new mom may be holding herself and “things” together, but only just. One tiny straw could well break the camel’s back.
This is exactly where I think Meghan is right now. I understand the UK tabloid obsession over Harry and Meghan has been overwhelming, however it is not actually new to either party. Both Harry and Meghan (a famous US actor) have had plenty of experience with good and bad red top press, without losing any patience or allowing the headlines to affect them. So I don’t believe that it’s solely on the tabloid gossip columns that has pushed this announcement.
I do believe that it is one of many links to the chain that Meghan simply cannot connect to anymore, that is pushing this, seemingly, concrete decision. She has moved country, tried to embrace the British way of life as a senior member of the most famous royal family, married to a man she met only a few years ago, and a baby arriving too. It’s far too much for anyone to take on, with sanity.
The solution, which I’m sure will seem so obvious to Harry and Meghan, is to get as far away as possible from anything that they can control – namely, their high-profile roles, the media, and geolocation. It actually makes perfect sense.
As an immigrant, single mom, who has lived in two foreign lands, I can honestly say that what Harry and Meghan appear to be suggesting will be the only answer that will work. Step back from the royal role, start earning some money, and split your time between both of your childhood countries… then breathe.
And if we need an example of how this might work – let’s take a quick look at Prince Frederick and Princess Mary of Denmark. Recently arriving in Verbier, Switzerland, for 12 weeks, enrolling their four children into Verbier International School, and here’s what Princess Mary had to say about her own immigration from native Australia to Denmark – literally the other side of the world:
“‘Moving to Denmark was a huge change in my life – a new culture, new language, new friends, and another way of life.’
‘So, I see it as quite natural that at times I felt quite alone or a little bit like I was on the outside looking in.’
Princess Mary knew it would take time to feel settled in, and said she got there thanks to plenty of supportive and caring people in her new home.
Princess Mary’s take on having patience and giving her new surroundings a chance is exactly my own experience in both relocating to Switzerland and Canada. And I feel that both Harry and Meghan should have followed this too. It is so tough to have so many life changes in such a short period of time and they perhaps need to let each event bed in a little before making decisions under haste.
My hopes are that not only will this announcement raise issues of mental wellness and mental health, but also of the journey of parents, the lack of modern day “tribe” mentality to help raise a family, and the support that we all need when we’re going through emotional times in life. Which are inevitable.
If you are a new parent, especially a mother, struggling to balance everything that life throws at you – then reach out to your friends, family, HR team members, and/or medical professionals. There are organizations to help you with depression, overwhelm, anxiety and getting some clarity.