Meghan, Harry, and our Fascination with Gossip
It seems like all we’ve heard and talked about this last week has been Meghan Markel, Prince Harry (can we still call him a Prince?), the Queen, Princess Kate, Prince William, Diana and the rest of Buckingham Palace. What is our fascination with the drama of Britain and the figureheads that really don’t have a role in our world except for photo ops and front headlines? More importantly, what is our fascination with gossip and reality TV?
Unfortunately, our divorce clients find themselves in the same situation, albeit it a much smaller scale, when they go through a divorce. Family, friends and colleagues immediately start the judging—who caused the split? Was it another love interest? Whose fault was it? Not unlike the monarchy, friends and family often feel like they must “pick a team”. In Britain right now, there is a division—are you on Team Meghan and Harry or Team Windsor?
In a divorce case, the best thing friends and family can do is to not pick sides but to support the family. It is a tough thing to do because we rationalize—if there is a divorce of course someone caused the situation, right? What if there was no one who caused it? What if the “adultery” or separation was the product of years of growing apart and having less in common? What if the end result was just that the parties fell out of love? This explanation takes away from our ability to rationalize and it might even cause a couple to think, well, what if we fall out of love? What if our marriage is not what we thought it was? Often times, when a couple separates, the friends around them take a serious look at their relationship and makes people question their bond. I am wondering, as many probably are, are the Windsors a little jealous of Meghan and Harry? How did they have the chutzpah to walk away? How did they break free from the constraints and strict rules of the Queen? Why can’t we do the same? In divorce, friends often wonder if they should opt for the freedom of divorce—the freedom of doing what they want when they want without the ball and chain of marriage. If I make that move, how will family and friends judge my decision? Will I be considered a bad parent? Will my family and friends no longer respect me and be my friend? Like Meghan and Harry, will people perceive me to be the bad person and gossip about me?
Meghan and Harry’s decision not only affects them, but it also affects Archie and Baby Girl—they are stripped of title and protection. In divorce, the children are also stripped of their privacy by sometimes having to tell their story to a best interest attorney, the school counselor or even the judge. Their embarrassment of divorce becomes even more magnified by the process. The protection of family is now gone as it seems like each parent is looking out for themselves, and not necessarily their children. As lawyers, our job is to protect our clients, but not our client’s children. We try to do both, while walking the line of being a zealous advocate for our clients which is not always the easiest job to manage and is not always possible.
What if the world let Harry and Meghan leave the institution or firm without judgment? What if the gossip tabloid were forbidden from violating the privacy of the monarchy and others? Is that even possible? Are we even willing not to thrive on the fallout as we all know that gossip sells the magazines, newspapers and airtime. Prince Harry and others feel strongly that the paparazzi lead to the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Does the judgment of friend and family cause the estrangement of divorced families? In a perfect world, and, as we do see on occasion, sometimes families divorce without blame or cause and the children can move on in an environment that is safe. It would be wonderful if we could be more kind to one another.