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If we could do without Harry and Meghan, could we do without the other Royals too?

PUBLISHED: 13:52 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:52 13 January 2020

The Duke of Sussex will attend crisis talks with Queen Elizabeth II at Sandringham today. It is understood that the Duchess of Sussex - who is in North America - will join on the phone. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire.

The Duke of Sussex will attend crisis talks with Queen Elizabeth II at Sandringham today. It is understood that the Duchess of Sussex - who is in North America - will join on the phone. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire.

Whatever happens at the so-called Sandringham Summit, the whole Harry and Meghan episode is putting pressure on the concept of Royalty altogether, says Liz Nice

Prince Andrew must be feeling pretty grateful to his nephew I'd have thought.

That's the good thing about large families. When you're in the soup, there's always another one along in a minute who can stir the pot in another direction and take the heat off you.

The world is braced for the Sandringham Summit as it's being called, or SARNDRINGHAM (like Sandra), as one reporter was calling it last night on the telly, perhaps to give the whole thing a bit more weight.

It needs it really, doesn't it?

A family spat that has become world news, when we should really be more worried about what Boris is doing to 'get Brexit done' which only a few weeks ago was all we cared about apparently, and what are going to be the consequences of Trump's falling out with Iran, a state of affairs which continues to simmer, but only if you listen to Radio 4.

None of these things are as titillating though, are they, as a good old Royal rumpus?

Long has this been the Royal Family's chief role, to give us a soap opera far more engaging than any of the things that really matter to our daily lives.

Everyone has an opinion.

I spoke to a friend at the weekend who 'can't stand Meghan.' They've never met.

Eamonn Holmes, meanwhile, who hasn't met her either, called Meghan 'manipulative' and 'uppity'. Apparently, he was 'unaware' of the racist connotations of the latter term which I found surprising but a straw poll of my nearest colleagues revealed that none of them had either so I guess we will have to let that one go, although if I was Meghan, I wouldn't be terribly inclined to.

Another view from a different friend was that 'Meghan surely knew what she was getting into, and, if she didn't, why not?' while adding that she was 'shocked' that Meghan has left Harry to face the music alone at Sandringham. 'This is probably the Queen's first ever conference call,' she said. I wonder if that's true?

Not everyone blames Meghan. A work colleague said they felt Harry 'can't moan on the one hand about how hard it all is and then get free tickets to the Rugby World Cup on the other. They've got to take the rough with the smooth,' he said. Quite.

Either way though, all of the chatter reminds me of the old French and Saunders 'royal experts' sketch, when they sat around talking about what the Queen Mother has for breakfast, clearly without any actual knowledge whatsoever of whether it was cornflakes, Frosties or Weetabix. I suspect, at her age, she probably went for bran flakes and that 'little gin' she used to enjoy at 11am of course.

Whether or not Harry and Meghan play an active role in the Royal Family doesn't really matter to the rest of us in the grand scheme of things.

We're not going to run out of Royals to open our hospitals and, if push came to shove, we could probably find a way to open them on our own. How hard is it to cut a ribbon or unveil a plaque, really?

ITN's Tom Bradby, who should probably keep out of it because his 'how we suffer' documentary about Harry and Meghan has caused enough trouble already, and because everyone knows he is a friend of Harry's, has suggested that a 'half-in, half-out' model could work, but this is nonsense.

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What's at the heart of this is haves and have-nots, privilege and a tax paying public. It's really the country standing up and saying, 'If you want an easy life, don't expect us to pay for it.'

It also sets a dangerous precedent for the Royals. The whole point is that they are not allowed to opt out. If they do, we might start to realise that if we can manage without Harry and Meghan, we could probably do without the rest of them as well.

I am sure the Queen will be very worried about her grandson, as any caring grandparent would be over signs that a much loved younger relative's fledgling marriage, which should really be in its honeymoon period, is coming under strain.

But I suspect it will be the implications for the future of the Royal Family that will be her chief concern.

I would imagine she'll be having 'a little gin at 11am' on that very point.

Is this the worst TV programme ever?

It would be easy to feel, with all this Royal drama, that the world has gone mad and nothing suggested this to me more strongly than when I accidentally found myself watching a programme on ITV at the weekend called The Masked Singer.

I really think this must be the worst television programme I have ever seen in my life.

A bunch of masked celebrities singing while Jonathan Ross, Rita Ora, Davina McCall and some American guy we've never heard of leap about with excitement over who might be hiding behind the outlandish costume.

The programme takes a full hour and at the end you only get to find out who one of the celebrities is. You will have to tune in next week if you wish to find out the next one. There is much fake excitement over who are the best singers.

Could it be Helen Mirren? David Beckham? Tony Blair?

No, clearly not, as they wouldn't be seen dead on this programme.

So far, the celebrities have turned out to be Patsy Palmer, Alan Johnson and Justin Hawkins from the Darkness.

Each time I noticed that the host, Rylan, has had to loudly say who the celebrity is after the unmasking as clearly lots of people in the audience, and very likely the judge from America, don't know them from Adam.

The unveiling of the mask is the only bit of drama worth watching - and is it really worth going through all the rigmarole and ad breaks to find out? Anyone who thinks so (I feel for them) will surely in future simply record the programme and watch the last two minutes as the rest of the show is truly risible.

Does everyone else agree?

Write to liz.nice@archant.co.uk

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