Meghan v Kate: the joys of a family feud
The nation is gripped by the rumours of royal sisters-in-law at war. But you, too, can enjoy the benefits of bickering relatives, suggests Eva Wiseman
There is a Yiddish word that comes in handy if you are part of a family, and the word is broigus. I offer this word (meaning a feud, especially between relatives) to the royal family, free to use, as rumours of their own alleged dispute spread across the press.
Here is what we know: Harry and Meghan are moving to Windsor. The Sun and the Daily Mail say it’s because Meghan and Kate hate each other, offering the word “flounce”. A courtier countered, no, it’s just, “they are very different people”. Which of course is far more grave. The Times pointed out that at royal events Meghan and Harry keep being seated far away from Kate and/or the Queen. At which point – the Mail on Sunday rushed in to say – Prince Charles suggested that William and Kate invite Harry and Meghan away for the weekend to make friends. EXCEPT, once there, Kate told Meghan off for the way she talked to the staff, and Harry kicked off and William took Kate’s side. Hence, “the move”.
The more eagle-eyed royalists will note Tatler’s sly subtweet of Meghan this week, in their must-read updated list of U and non-U. Nestled below (gasp) “Trophy spouses”, and above “Saying, ‘I’m all right thanks’ when offered a drink”, in the non-U column, a single word: “Windsor”.
There is nothing like the idea of two women fighting to drag our weary eyes away from Brexit. It’s only a shame one isn’t blonde – you can lead a finger to MailOnline, but you can’t make it click. Nevertheless, this is a story that has ignited the imagination of many thousands of strangers to the royal family, almost as if they were waiting for it. Almost as if Britain’s open-armed welcome to a mixed-race, divorced, feminist foreigner into the Palace was a shallow promise, a drunken Christmas truce, a game of football before the sniping began.
The catfight trope, where two women compete out of jealousy and insecurity, is replicated throughout our many cultures. In part because it’s titillating and someone’s top might get ripped, in part because it exposes the tension and violence involved in female ambition, and in part because women are conditioned to compete with and mistrust each other.
The other thing we know about the public catfight, whether played out in the tabloids or on the grassy bit outside the Royal Oak, is nobody wins. It is a battle against the self – even if you’re left standing, you’ve lost, by proving there’s only space for one woman up there. The catfight is a trope as well-worn as the princess fantasy, the idea that once a woman has married her prince her life becomes perfect. And, well.
Perhaps Meghan and Kate are at war. Or maybe it’s giving them ideas. If so, it’s the perfect season for a broigus. The festive period is designed for the prodding of family feuds. The enforced jollity, the pressure of gifts, the anxiety of everybody in a room all at once and the heating on at 23. Alcohol.
I speak as someone whose family dinners would not be complete without the carcass of an ancient broigus to pick over for dessert, and as someone who drinks up friends’ stories of: the great-auntie who banished her son when he announced he was marrying a woman with a lisp, the siblings who have been fighting over the pronunciation of “schedule” since the early 1990s, and the woman who rescinded her sister’s wedding invitation when the sister lost weight. Kate being left in tears following a bridesmaid’s dress fitting for Princess Charlotte before Meghan’s wedding would certainly make the cut.
As the Windsors prepare to congregate at Sandringham (and with Meghan’s mother, Doria, too) I hope they lean in – the drama can be as delicious as a good pudding. There is something cleansing about a broigus, when performed well, and at Christmas it brings the remaining family together better than any carol service or cosy BBC murder. I recommend it.
Newspapers claim there is a rift between the royal wives.