36: The Family Business of Being Royal: Part 4 of Harry and Meghan

Royal Family business

In the final part of the Harry and Meghan series, Mary and her sister Chime talk about the Royal family and the business side of being Royal. The Royal family is not only a family but more of a business and with that business comes quite a few boundary issues. 

Mary discusses with Chime some of the times that family and the family business came into direct conflict in the Royal family. There are many instances where boundaries are pushed when it comes to the media, royal engagements and security. They talk about how Harry had to figure out his role in his family once he decided he was no longer participating in the family business.

Main Episode Takeaways

  • Rules that are set for the Royal family
  • The Royals main duty is to represent Britain
  • Boundary issues with the Royal family business
  • Times when family business and being part of the family come in direct conflict

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36. The Family Business of Being Royal: Part 4 of Harry and Meghan

Mary: Let’s talk boundaries. I am here with my sister Chime, doing the fourth and final part of the series with Meghan and Harry. And today we are talking about the family business of being royal. 

Chime: Hello Mary. So excited for this. 

Mary: Hey. All right, so Chime, what is the family business of being royal?

Chime: Well, it’s. A little hairy to explain. It’s a little complicated because you kind of think, how are they a business? They’re a family. But the royal is more an establishment and they are the keepers of this establishment in their current time and place, and then it will continue on. So this establishment is interesting. It’s very interesting how it’s also a business, but sort of a family.

Mary: Yeah. So I think underneath being the family, the business part of it is really that they are brand ambassadors for a PR firm.

Chime: Yeah, they’re like a PR representative. Maybe a little sales in there. 

Mary: Maybe a little sales. But what are I selling? We don’t really know. I think they’re brand ambassadors.

Chime: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So they have the establishment has the Commonwealth. So they’re keeping those relationships with the Commonwealth countries. They also support a lot of charity work, so they are ambassadors for that. And then in addition, they also just inherently have a lot of, I don’t know if it’s just liquid money, but in terms of how much personal assets they have, it’s a ton. Yeah. Like I think I read that King Charles has personal assets over a billion dollars. Yeah. So there’s a lot of money at stake in this establishment. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. Yes. So there was a thought around some people believed that the royals are paid with taxes. And that’s not really true. They got their own money. 

Chime: They do have their own money, though. There is a little bit of tax involved. So in part of being these public ambassadors, they’re very separate. The Royal Monarchs are very separate from the government, but the government does pay a little bit. They pay for security. Security, so the Metro Police offer their security, and there is a fund that pays for some public engagements. Not the whole thing, but some of them. And they pay for some expenses for housing. So they don’t pay for the British family, but they pay for a few things that the British family use and made. Yes. There’s some rules involved though. 

Mary: Yeah. What are these rules? 

Chime: The biggest one is they’re not allowed to use their name to make their own money. So it seems like that’s a fair rule, which I agree it is because they’re paying for some of it, but what it does mean is all of their livelihood, you know, how they pay for their lives is all tied up with the establishment. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. It’s like a non-compete clause in the business. So essentially their job is to represent Britain. They represent the Commonwealth and they want to increase awareness of the British royal family, and they want to, you know, shine a positive light on them and they are really nurturing the relationships with the people. So they’re embodying this kind of identity in lots of different ways, through their appearances, through their language, through their demeanor, through their values, all of that. And there was a clip in the documentary that kind of shows this and reminded me of kind of their role as brand ambassadors and representing Britain. And it was, when they all said absolutely thrilled, absolutely thrilled, absolutely thrilled. So like in the same exact wording and tone and it was like Kate said, she was absolutely thrilled and even Camilla said she was absolutely thrilled and Charles said he was absolutely thrilled, exactly the same way. And I was like, look at that. Good representation. Y’all doing your job, 

Chime: Y’all are on brand. 

Mary: Very on brand of you. They’re all absolutely thrilled. 

Chime: So you wanna know how to be part of the British brand? There you go. 

Mary: That’s what we say. Yeah. So essentially the work that they do is through these royal engagements. And there are thousands of them every year. 

Chime: How many was it? I feel like it was a ton they said.

Mary: At least 2000. 

Chime: Yes. Two to three, right? 

Mary: Yeah. Two to 3000 royal engagements. Every year are done by the British family collectively. 

Chime: Correct. Yeah. 

Mary: And I did also read that with Harry and Meghan no longer being working royals and with Prince Andrew no longer being a working royal that they don’t have enough people working in the royal family to cover these engagements. Also with the death of the Queen and. 

Chime: Yeah. And it’s not like you can just hire some more 

Mary: right. Can’t just go get a new Royal. They’re born into this.

Chime: Indeed.com Royal family.

Mary: Who would apply for that job on it indeed.com. Yeah. So these royal engagements are all around things like public visits to other commonwealth countries, they are for charity work, for public support and things like education and environment and medical care and housing and all of those things. So, one thing that I noticed in the docu-series was this phrase of never complain, never explain. And I feel like that might be the family business model.

Chime: Yeah, for sure. 

Mary: That’s the motto. Never complain, never explain. That’s how this PR firm’s going about it.

Chime: I mean, it’s a family PR firm. I’m pretty sure every mom has at least thought that for their children.

Mary: It’s the no whining rule. Yeah, we gotta no whining rule at our house. All right, so let’s talk about some of these family boundary issues in this business. Let’s start with birth. 

Chime: Yeah, so they all go to the same hospital. They come out of the same steps. They swaddle this little baby, show ’em off to the world, and then they all say 

Mary: Absolutely thrilled.

Chime: So they start their job right out the get go. 

Mary: Yes. They are born into this royal family and, 

Chime: And into the business. 

Mary: Into the business. They’re anointed by God and by blood. And it’s like the All of Britain has stewardship over these children.

Chime: Yes. And it’s not just like, we like these kids. We wanna see em on TV, stewardship. Like I’m the favorite aunt, obviously. No, but it’s legal. I remember Princess Diana saying one of the reasons that she never left Britain, cuz she wanted to just, after they got divorced, grab her kids. And get out of there. But she said that the royal family had custody over the boys because they’re the heirs and she couldn’t take them.

Mary: Mm-hmm. So interesting. I know. So interesting. So when they’re born there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance around a new royal being born. And they are absolutely thrilled. Yes. And, and they’re born, they have this birthright of a job. 

Chime: It’s a birthright and it’s a little bit of a birth duty and a little bit of a birth curse.

Mary: Yeah. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being born into the royal family for sure. For sure. Okay, so let’s talk about some other family events. What happens when they get married? There’s a lot of pomp and circumstance around royal weddings. And where they can get married and who they can marry.

Chime: Mm-hmm. And who, who’s invited and how many people and where does everyone sit in the church and. You don’t get to choose that someone chooses that for 

Mary: you. Someone chooses that for you. Mm-hmm. Meghan and Harry went along with the pomp and circumstance. Of the family business when they got married, and then they had a second wedding reception that they got to do it their way. So interesting, huh? 

Chime: Mm-hmm. It is super interesting. Yeah.

Mary: And then there’s these unspoken boundaries around the role of someone who marries into the royal family. Is not to steal the limelight of someone who’s born into the royal family. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah. So there’s lots of actually unspoken boundaries, which is so interesting to me as well. And then what about divorce? What happens when they get divorced? 

Chime: Well, it’s all out in there, you know, I mean, it’s just for the world to see.

Mary: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Public divorces don’t usually go well. And when Princess Diana got divorced, she essentially left the Institution and 

Chime: Which holds security, remember? Yeah, they own security. So the things that are tied to the institution are public engagements, which she wasn’t obligated to do anymore. She was allowed to make her own money if she wanted to. But she lost security. That was her big one.

Mary: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Which essentially I think did contribute to her untimely death. 

Chime: Yes. Yeah. 

Mary: So, then what about things like death?

Chime: Well, that also comes with a lot of obligations in terms of not just a family, but really what it means for the public relations. So deaths are also very public. Yeah. And they have public funerals. So there’s a parade, people bring flowers, mourners show up to Buckingham Palace. And then as we talked about in the Harry episode, yeah. Harry and William were expected to console the mourners to greet the mourners. Right. Duty. Duty above all. 

Mary: Yeah. And that’s where they talked about when their mom died, they had two hats to wear. They had the hat of a grieving son. And they really wanted just to cry and to grieve and to run away and be alone, but their duty as. Royal family members was to show no emotion to shake the hands of the grieving people and really to walk behind the coffin and comfort the mourners. Yeah. Ah, so interesting how they do that.

So let’s talk a little bit more about other types of boundary issues or times when the responsibilities of being part of this family business conflict with being a member of a family. There’s a quote by Meghan and she talks about a time when they were supposed to go visit the Queen. And they were not allowed because they were told that she’s busy and that she’ll be busy all week. They had made arrangements to have tea and spend the night, and they were told that she was now busy.

Chime: Well, actually Mary, if I’m remembering it, maybe a little different. Yeah. That they had called the Queen directly and she was. Like, yeah, of course. I’ll meet with you. I’ll be here for this week. Yeah. And then it came closer to it and then her secretary said, oh, no, no, no, no. You can’t meet with her. She’s gonna be busy all week. Yes. And then she said, I’ve been told I’ll be busy all week. 

Mary: I’ve been told I’ll be busy. So interesting. I don’t really love when people tell me what I am, but.

Chime: I don’t think Harry was thrilled. 

Mary: No. And so Megan said this is when a family and a family business are in direct conflict. They’re blocking you from seeing the Queen. But really, they’re blocking a grandson from seeing his grandmother. Yeah. Yeah. So interesting how that,

Chime: I also think it’s interesting in terms of a business, if you think about what are the roles of the family in terms of the business, so if every business has a president, a C E O, whoever it is, and so in this instance, The Queen is the c e o. Mm-hmm. She’s the president of the business, but the business role is to have a public relation figure do what she deems they should do. Right?

Mary: Oh, they got a board of directors. This is more of a nonprofit. 

Chime: But if you think about it like, this board of directors or this Queen is like, you have to dress like this and you have to talk like this, and you have to be absolutely thrilled at everything and you have to go here. Like can you imagine your grandmother deciding every part of your life. What you should wear and how you should talk?

Mary: And I mean, I think it is more a board of directors than a CEO situation, honestly. Hmm. It’s what it feels like to me from watching the documentary. 

Chime: Yeah, I guess it could be. Yeah, A little both.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about other boundary issues. So there’s this unspoken expectation that they will not wear bright colors because the queen likes to wear bright colors. That’s so interesting. There’s also this unspoken expectation about the relationship with the media. So there’s always been a relationship with the media in this family business, and that changed when William and Harry were born, they were the first generation of royals that were born into this kind of unspoken contract with the media, which is referred to as “you pose, we pay.” We pay you pose. Yeah. Right. So they’re expected to pose for the media wherever they are that they will stand and take pictures. And then, they have this duty to bring their private life to the royal Rhoda. 

Chime: Yeah. Now I just have to say, I think that the c e o needs to reconsider this role. I’m good with Harry on this one because if you think about it, the royal monarch and family has been carried through in existence in their current relationship with the British government. I would assume since the Parliament was developed, and that was 1801, so why is it since the eighties they’ve now developed this weird relationship with the media You pose, we pay. Which they didn’t have before. You know, I don’t think it’s, it’s necessary to continue their role as part of the royal family and the royal establishment, but it’s how it is right now.

Mary: Yep. So that’s our encouragement. If you’re listening, 

Chime: put your anonymous grievances in the box,

Mary: King Charles, if you’re hearing this, we recommend.

All right, so let’s talk a little bit more about like the children’s roles in public events. We touched on how it starts with birth and then they take their babies on tour. They literally take their babies on tour,

Chime: Which if anyone’s had a newborn, that’s terrible idea. 

Mary: Yeah. But that’s part of like, This PR role. And nurturing in relationships with the other countries in the Commonwealth. That they bring the babies. And kind of, 

Chime: Which I get it in terms of a public relations loyalty. Everyone wants to see a baby and I love a baby. Show me all the babies, you know? If I was in another country, I’d wanna see the baby.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And there’s also like religion. Right? So they are born into a specific religion and expected to represent that religion. So there’s some interesting boundary issues around that. So how decisions are made in this family business is very interesting. I’m not super clear how decisions are usually made. I mean, we joked a little bit about, I think there’s a board of directors, but I actually think there is probably like a board of someone from the comms team, someone that

Chime: Let’s just theorize. Cuz it doesn’t really say. 

Mary: Yeah. We don’t really know. 

Chime: We don’t really know, but we’ll come up with some theories. So the Queen is the c e o, in theory. In theory, but they all have their own little secretaries. And I think the secretaries are the lobbyists. That’s what I think, that they just lobby what should happen, you know? I don’t think they have any real power. It all comes with the Queen, but the Queen seems like a pretty amenable kind of girl, so she kind of goes with it. Yeah. That’s my theory. 

Mary: Okay. Okay. But there is discussion around a round table.

Chime: Yes. With the royal seniors, 

Mary: With the senior members of the royal family, that they have a round table discussion and that, that did happen when Harry was negotiating his role in the family and that they came to a round table discussion and kind of gave five different options of how they could continue to have a role within the royal family all the way from, you’re fully in, you’re a hundred percent working royal to you’re kind of out. And that initially they tried to choose that third option where they were half an and half out, and that there was at least a let’s come to the table kind of conversation and and engage in a meaningful discussion around this. 

Chime: Which it sounds like Harry did not want to be totally out. What was important to him was safety, obviously and then having a better relationship with the media. Yeah. 

Mary: Yeah. So we talked about already that in the Harry episode that the final straw there was the lack of security. They were no longer being provided security. But really their role as PR for this firm is no more. 

Chime: Yeah. Yeah. Which I think is really evident in the, his role in the coronation. You know, he wasn’t in British regalia, he didn’t do the parade. He wasn’t in one of the carriages. He was not right up front. But he was there as a family member. So now he’s a family member, part of the family, but he doesn’t have to do the PR stuff. 

Mary: Yes. Which is so interesting. And I think that happens in family businesses. I think that often happens actually, where there’s a family member who may have had a role in responsibility within a family business and has decided not to work. For the family business. And then they have some kind of transitional experiences of how do I continue to show up in this family? As a family member when I am no longer part of this family business. 

Chime: Yes. And there is some, you know, there’s benefits to each side, especially even if you consider financially, I mean, when he was part of the royal regalia, no, not royal regalia. He was part of a working Royal family member, he did get, you know, his housing subsidized. He did get security, which was subsidized. He did get some other things which he no longer has financial access to those. But now that he’s not part of that, he does get to make his own money. So he wrote a book and he gets the profits from that. And, but he does have to find his own security. He’s responsible for that. And there actually was news article I read recently that he’s having some issues with returning to Britain because of the security.

Mary: Yes. Current event. 

Chime: Current event. So in the US you can hire your own security guards. . And they can function really like a police officer. You know, they have a gun, they have been trained, all of those things. But I guess in Britain, private security guards are not allowed to have guns. Mm-hmm. Which he felt was a safety issue. And he, I guess they’re not allowed to hire the police. Which I think you can even do in the us. I don’t know.

Mary: Yes, you can. 

Chime: So that’s a big, you know, they haven’t come to terms with that yet. 

Mary: Yes. Well, let’s wrap up here. I love talking about family business and I, my intention is to continue having podcast episodes about family businesses. But in terms of this royal family being a business, I think we just wrap up with this motto. Which is never complain and never explain. 

Chime: Mm-hmm. And now that he is not a working royal, he did complain and he did explain. 

Mary: That’s right. That’s the best.