America is not a monarchy — no matter how badly Donald Trump wishes otherwise. And because we don’t have a royal family to fixate on, we obsess about our equivalent: Hollywood. After all, it’s a collection of rich, powerful, elite, beautiful people who control the cultural narrative and set the trends.
Harry and Meghan parted ways with Buckingham Palace and gave up their titles and state funding for royal duties in January. But this week made it clear just what they traded the royal realm for. On Wednesday, hundreds of years after revolutionaries made the case for the supremacy of the American system and decades after Hollywood began to beam its influence farther and wider than the British Empire ever did, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex swapped life in the British royal family for a multiyear deal with Netflix.
The couple are writing a new chapter in the age-old American story of reinvention and self-determination by announcing that they are rejecting the British monarchy for the stuff of American dreams. They’ve decided they can have more power over their lives and influence over everyone else from Hollywood than from Buckingham Palace.
Per the Netflix deal, Harry and Meghan’s yet-to-be-named production company will make “documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.” Though details are scant, it sounds a lot like the ambitions of another royal-ish American couple, Barack and Michelle Obama.
And who better to deliver this endorsement of American versus European celebrity than a biracial actress and lifestyle blogger hitched to a second-born prince who insisted on serving in combat and marrying for love? As cultural critic Syreeta McFadden has noted, Meghan and Harry’s relationship is remarkable because it means “the old colonial order has eroded, at least in part, among even the remaining aristocracy.”