Last week, the doors slammed, Buckingham Palace announced in shock that they would no longer respond to the Sussexes. All of this is so familiar to those who remember the abdication of King Edward VIII and his past life longing to return. So, as now, the royal machine knows how to freeze a capricious prince. In the darkest days of 1936, the king, relegated to the royal duke, set out from these sure coasts that the love of his people would allow him to return once the dust settled. How wrong he was.
But his brother King George VI, and especially Elizabeth, his wife, were determined to keep Edward away. King George held the purse strings, just as Prince Charles holds them today, and as the Duke of Windsor discovered – and the Duke of Sussex will soon find out – money is everything for a royal in flight.
Windsor spent the rest of his life worrying about money. This led to colossal mistakes which led to a gradual loss of respect.
Like Harry, he wanted the best for his wife, including the most expensive gems of Cartier, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels.
But after a while, he stopped paying the bills, kept his hands on his lap when the dinner bill arrived, and jumped on every gift he could get.
The people he socialized with now weren’t worthy of his company.
He fell into the arms of Jessie Donahue, the rude daughter of five-year-old magnate FW Woolworth, and allowed her to buy vacation and jewelry for himself and his wife for five years.
When Jessie’s son Jimmy took advantage of this and started an affair with the Duchess, he had to look elsewhere.
The duke, petrified that he would run out of money, sold his story in book form and to magazines.
Will Harry do the same? Last week, the first US bulletin from the Sussex House was delivered – Harry and Meghan are looking for work but will do nothing to harm the Queen.
If it sounded like a loyalty vote, it was actually protection from shutting down the silver tap completely.
It seems that Harry and Meghan are separated from Britain without an appropriate plan, and without any clear idea of how they were to finance their future lives.
Security – estimated at £ 4 million a year – would depend on him.
There has been a lot of talk about buying a house in Malibu. The properties start at £ 20 million and Harry doesn’t have that kind of money.
The Windsors encountered similar difficulties.
Although once king and emperor, the duke owned little. He had a lifetime interest in Sandringham and Balmoral, which he abandoned for money, but his home – his pride and joy, Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park – was under Crown lease. Like Frogmore Cottage, the fort was closed when it fled. He was never to come back.
In the years that followed, he never had a job.
He talked about charity work but it never happened.
It would not be surprising to find that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Foundation, which closed last week, will not be revived in the United States.
Running a charity costs money and there is no evidence that Harry will work again to fund it.
Meghan is a big name in Los Angeles, but unless she gets bigger jobs than the voiceover she just did for a Disney documentary, her prospects are bleak.
She is a competent actress but her attraction comes from being royal.
And the Sussexes are no longer royal.
And so the jokes begin. This week, our former hero was tagged “Harry Markle” while The Times talked about the Duchess’ first Hollywood effort: “Meghan lays cheese on a thin documentary.”
Just before Edward VIII abdicated, he was the nation’s pinup.
A few weeks later, the joke was: “He was admiral of the fleet, now he is the third companion on an American vagabond. “
Ridicule follows hard on your heels when you run away. Hopefully Harry and Meghan can escape the void into which their predecessors fell.