Dear Princess Meg of California,
Welcome to Britland! As one of your grandmother-in-lawâ€™s pleb subjects, may I offer servile congratulations on bagging Prince Harry. Allow me also to offer some advice on this joyous and taxpayer-funded occasion. You will be surrounded by advisers at Buck House, but history and The Crown suggest that you should ignore them. They are posh halfwits. I, on the other hand, am common as muck. I may know nothing about protocol, but I am a living embodiment of the partiality and pettiness of the British public.
Some parts of your new job may resemble your old job. The royal family is a showbiz dynasty, as essential to our tourist industry as our Beefeaters and Beatles impersonators. But the head of The Firm is also Godâ€™s anointed monarch. When it comes to the royals, we salute the uniform, not the man (or woman). We can take or leave most of the Windsors. Some might call them a bunch of German freeloaders. But Her Maj is the great exception. We love her because she is our last link to Churchill, the Empire, the Blitz spirit, and Englandâ€™s victory in the 1966 World Cup. First rule is: Be nice to Grandma.
Only two other royals have a place in the publicâ€™s fickle heart, and one of them is dead. Princess Diana may have been daft and posh, but she had the common touch. She is a tough act to follow, and itâ€™s best not to try. Your sister-in-law Kate has found her own way to be both formal and genuine. Your being an actress might be helpful. Or not. For the second rule is: Keep it real.
You can keep your accent. We like Americans; we were embarrassed for Madonna when she pretended to be English. We donâ€™t care about good teeth or toned abs, either. We want you to respect the ancient compact between the royals and the ruledâ€”and to have just enough of a sense of humor so that we know youâ€™re in on the joke. Be polite to us, but not patronizing. Laugh at your mistakes, for we are already laughing at you. Do not take cues from your new father-in-law. Prince Charles takes himself too seriously, and no one trusts him after the Diana business.
The other royal we love is your new husband. We suffered for Harry when his parents divorced, mourned for him when his mother died, and worried about him when he fought in Afghanistan. We were not surprised that he went to a fancy dress party in a Nazi uniform; we assumed heâ€™d found it in the attic. We were amused when he was caught smoking weed on the grounds of your father-in-lawâ€™s palace. We were proud when he was photographed naked in a Las Vegas hotel room, covering the crown jewels with his hands after a game of strip billiards.
Harry is a 21st-century Henry VIII, the best of Olde England. He burns in the sun, likes a joke and a drink, and is not averse to a fight. We especially admire his bravery, because our appetite for royal gossip led to his motherâ€™s death and remains a cause of his vulnerability. Third rule is: Look after him, because we cannot.
The English male is a simple creature. Given a diet of fried starches, he breeds well in captivity. He does, though, like his privacy. Avoid all discussions about feelings unless he initiates. Encourage him to install a shed in your garden at Kensington Palace, so he and William can get some peace. Accept that every now and then, he will find it imperative to â€śgo on the lashâ€ť and drink until he falls over.
Fourth rule is: Go native. We want you and Harry to succeed, just like our grandparents wanted Edward VIII to follow his heart and marry Wallis Simpson. All you have to do is show us that you value our ancient way of life. So, no complaints about the plumbing.
Fifth rule is: Go more native, and confirm our suspicion that the whole world wants to be just like us. Itâ€™s good that you like dogs. Have some children to keep them company. Shout at the kids, shun the dentist, swear at the useless England soccer team, drink gin before lunch. And when our famously cruel media turn on you, as they do on everyone sooner or later, sunbathe naked near a photographer with a telephoto lens. We, your loyal subjects, will demand that the papers respect your privacy. Once, that is, weâ€™ve all had a good look at the pictures.