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Following Oprah’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, much of this week’s news has revolved around discussions of rejection, rivalry, and rocky royal relationships.
Tolstoy’s famous observation that ‘every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ springs to mind. In this case, the interview gave particular focus to painful comments about race and the torment of facing mental health struggles without support, especially in a foreign cultural climate.
The experience of Harry and Meghan, played out under the glare of the global media’s spotlight, is utterly unique in some ways. Yet, it’s familiar in others: ‘I feel really let down by my father,’ commented Harry. ‘I didn’t want to be alive anymore,’ admitted Meghan. Feelings of intense loneliness and loss described by the couple reflect painful realities many experience: broken relationships, miscarriage, bereavement, parental rejection, prejudice, isolation, and even suicidal thoughts.
Mother Teresa once said, ‘The greatest disease in the West today … is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.’
We’re now approaching a full year since the first pandemic lockdown – a year which, for many, has been the hardest ever experienced. While it’s tempting to consume salacious speculation and cast judgement from afar, perhaps we should look closer to home. How might Oprah’s interview lead us to reflect constructively on our own families and friendships, and our (much less public) frontlines? Where is there unresolved hurt? How might I listen more generously, speak more kindly, and forgive more quickly?
Families can be messy. Royal ones are no exception. Yet, the intimacy of a parent–child relationship is an astounding metaphor for the perfect, unconditional love of God for his people: ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1).
As adopted children of divine royalty, each of us is called to mirror God’s love in the setting he’s placed us. We aren’t called to give a public statement on our relationships from Oprah’s sofa, but we invest in and cultivate them in the everyday: around the dinner table, in the Zoom work meeting, by the school gate, at the checkout.
A distinctive response to public scandal is not to look down on others but to re-examine ourselves instead, asking where we can give more grace this coming week.
Katherine works in communications for the Civil Service and attends Inspire Saint James Clerkenwell.
Photo credit: Joe Pugliese/CBS