Updated: Apr 15, 2020
If you want to know just how much Millennials are changing the world, you need look no further than Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Breaking with royal tradition and seemingly flying solo, the couple announced on January 8 that they would step back from royal duties and split their time between the UK and North America as they work to obtain financial independence. The details of that are still unclear.
What is clear is that Millennials do things differently. Royals usually step back from duties when there is a scandal. Prince Andrew was recently forced to do it when stories surfaced about his friendship with American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
In the case of Prince Harry, he and his wife are not willing to put up with the scrutiny and unfair coverage by the British tabloids. Many people have called the British press' treatment of Markle racist. [Markle is an American actress of mixed-racial descent—her father is Caucasian and her mother is African American.] The royal reporters have defended themselves.
Additionally, it is possible that the Millennial Duke and Duchess are not willing to be senior royals waiting for Prince Charles to clarify his plans for a slimmed-down monarchy after the Queen dies. The revised roles for royals who actively serve the Crown could have meant a less prominent role for Prince Harry and his family. Although, Prince Charles has said the new structure would include both of his sons—Harry and William, who is second in line to the British throne.
Prince Harry was born in 1984 and Meghan Markle in 1981, which makes them “older Millennials.” Following are a few character traits of Millennials that tell us exactly why the British Monarchy is experiencing the crisis of tradition that it is.
Millennials consider traditional manners old fashioned. Harry has always pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable. It was well-documented by the press that Harry started drinking, using pot and doing drugs when he was just 16 years old. In his late teens and early 20s, Prince Harry engaged in crude behavior that was not acceptable for his station as a royal and a member of the British army, and he had to make a public apology at one point.
Meanwhile, Meghan has continued to push the boundaries of royal dress code with off-the shoulder sweaters and the sheer top in her engagement photo with Prince Harry, thereby sending a message to the world that she and her husband-to-be would be a different kind of royal.
Millennials are not conformists. Flexibility and individuality are important to them. That is the opposite of what the British Crown represents. As senior royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been limited in what they can do and say in the face of tabloid criticism.
Millennials are the most educated generation we’ve ever seen, and they are technologically savvy. While many Millennials, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were born in an analog world, digital technology was prevalent by the time they were teens. So, they are very comfortable navigating technology and communicating with the public through social media. Meghan more so than many, since she was an actress and celebrity in her own right before marrying Prince Harry.
Now, you may laugh at this next one, but Millennials job hop. People are living healthier and longer lives and staying in the workforce longer. As a result, Millennials are getting marginalized in junior positions that aren’t fulfilling. Being a royal is a job and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were very clearly never going to make it to the top of the hierarchy. Given that, their desire to pave their own road is not surprising.
Finally, the British stiff upper lip is a real thing. In 2017, Prince William defended his brother Harry, who admitted to hiding his mental anguish after the death of their mother, Princess Diana. Just three years later, Prince Harry is demonstrating that he learned how damaging it can be to keep a stiff upper lip. By stepping back from royal life, he and his wife are sending a strong message that they will not keep calm and carry on in the face of constant abuse.