Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. CNS photo/Harpo Productions, Joe Pugliese, Handout via Reuters

Cathy Majtenyi: Harry-Meghan interview offers themes for us all

  • April 9, 2021

It was the interview of the century. Almost a half-billion people worldwide tuned into Oprah Winfrey’s sitdown with Prince Harry and Meghan explaining why they quit “the Firm.”

The interview yielded generalized principles we can apply in our own lives. 

A key theme to emerge from the discussion and its subsequent media coverage was culture clash: the stiff upper-lip “never complain, never explain” motto of the Royal Family and British culture in general versus the let-it-all-hang out approach of American celebrities and culture.

The Royal Family is first and foremost an institution. There are strong undertones of discipline and attention to duty. At times, family members have to suppress their own personal desires and profiles to ensure the strength, mission and unity of the institution; admittedly, it’s difficult and ego-bruising at times.

As Christians, we face the same struggle. Our feelings and inclinations pull us in directions that often contradict biblical teachings, Church doctrines or the unity of the Church. The Bible constantly talks about the battle between the flesh and the spirit.

Living according to the Word of God, and being a member of the Church, may feel at times restrictive and even oppressive. “Freedom” — in the eyes of the world, to do what we want, when we want, according to what our feelings tell us — is a seductive escape from the “‘trap” of objective truth and morality, as taught in the Bible and practised in the Church.

But true freedom comes precisely from observing God’s Word and will for our lives. Feelings and desires can lead us down dark roads that ultimately end up in our destruction. We gain true freedom when we master thoughts and behaviours that feel good in the short term but trap us in the long run, both here and in eternity.

Another theme was a lack of support within the institution — specifically regarding the request for mental health care — as well as concerns over baby Archie’s skin colour.

Our mission as Christians and members of the body of Christ is to care for one another. Jesus was very clear in His response to Peter’s three declarations of love at the Last Supper: “Feed my lambs.”

If we love Christ and want to follow Him, we must assist those who come to us asking for help. If we can’t provide the necessary assistance, we can at least point people in the right direction, giving them our encouragement and support in the process.

As members of the body of Christ, we are also called at times to explain biblical and Church teachings and hold our fellow Christians to account for those teachings. The Bible is very clear in exhorting us to take up our responsibility with regard to others’ walk with God. We don’t just baptize people and then leave them to navigate the faith on their own; we act as a faith community.

On the issue of racism, there must be no tolerance in the Church or in our lives for discrimination against anyone based on the colour of their skin. We must remain vigilant in rooting out this evil. 

Finally, the interview referred to bad behaviour by Royal Family members, and that’s where it gets tricky. The Royal Family is an institution, but it’s also a collection of real-life people. It’s one thing to expose the wrongdoings of an institution for the purposes of structural reform; it’s quite another to call out personal squabbles and private conversations.

But that’s what we frequently do in our own lives. We reveal others’ mistakes, wrongdoings and weaknesses when we need to justify ourselves or bolster our own egos and reputations.  

When the chief priests and elders accused Him, and when Pilate prodded Him, Jesus was silent. He had no need to explain, complain or justify. God is our vindicator. If we trust Him, He will give us beauty for the ashes we encounter from others. 

Forgiving others, and resisting the temptation to expose their weaknesses for our own benefit, is a strong sign of love. As 1 Peter 4:8 says, “love covers a multitude of sins.”

(Majtenyi is a public relations officer who specializes in research at an Ontario university.)

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