To understand what the British Royals do it helps to understand what the British Royals are for. Once we’ve got that then we’ll be able to grasp why Prince Harry is taking paternity leave as Meghan Markle gives birth.
The point being that the Royals are figureheads. We need someone to pin medals on people, open country games and all that. Therefore that’s what we’ve got, a large family with some sort of historical connection who do all that for us. Every State has someone who does this sort of thing and as it’s worked out over the years having someone not subject to electoral politics doing it seems to work very well. I’d say better but then that’s also the system I like anyway.
There is something else that goes with this though. Those Royals also need to be a bit representative. Of, say, the received wisdom. Or perhaps of what society thinks is a good thing. That young men serve their country is rather why Princes do their bit in the Armed Forces. And that’s also the explanation here:
It seems no matter what Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex do lately, the media pounces all over it as breaking the rules or being annoying. Meghan, of course, receives the brunt of all the criticism, even if her rule-breaking looks refreshing from the American perspective. Now Harry is suddenly getting criticized for deciding to take some paternity leave to help with soon-to-arrive Baby Sussex. Why Harry is getting criticized for this is a bit suspicious considering it has recent royal precedent. Plus, there’s a U.K. law permitting it for everyone, even royals.
It’s not so much that Harry’s going to be helping – they have servants after all – it’s that he’s going to be seen to be taking paternity leave. And I say this as one of the people who caused this right to paternity leave to be put into UK law. Not that that’s quite what I intended but it is actually true that some writing of mine convinced an activist, who got it into the LibDem manifesto, when the Coalition came up it them made it into law as their little bit of what the coalition should be doing.
There is also consternation at the fact that while everyone now has this right very few seem to be taking it. It’s thus active government policy that men should be encouraged to take this paternity leave. Partly, obviously, just because what’s the point of government straining to produce such rights if no one gives a damn. There are also those who really do believe it’s a good idea.
So, what better than a Prince taking his paternity leave? Which is why he is. There won’t have been anything quite as obvious as an order being given but a word will have been had. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if….and so it happens.