Has the ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ Policy Been a Good Thing for the British Royal Family?
From the beginning of the 20th century and certainly into modern times, the world has taken a keen interest in the goings-on of the British royal family. The world stood aghast when Queen Elizabeth II‘s uncle King Edward VIII abdicated his throne after less than a year of ruling so that he could marry American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
The queen’s sister, Princess Margaret was known for her party-girl ways and certainly made her way into the tabloids on more than one occasion. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, the world became obsessed with Sarah, Duchess of York, and Princess Diana. All of these royals dealt with various media frenzies. As the paparazzi and the age of the internet became more pronounced things got worse.
Though the current members of the royal family continue to deal with constant bullying and harassment from the press and media, the royals have long adopted the stiff upper lip policy, to never complain or explain. But considering the events of the past two decades, has the policy been a good thing for the royals?
This is how the ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ policy originated
Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother adopted the stiff upper lip policy in 1936 when she was thrust into the spotlight as queen when her brother-in-law left his position. Since she became the Sovereign Monarch in 1952 at the age of 25, Queen Elizabeth has lived her life by this policy.
In the past when there were whispers about her husband, Prince Philip’s alleged infidelity, the queen did not speak out to affirm or denounce anything. Now, in the middle of Prince Andrew’s scandal in connection to a slew of underage women and the late Jeffrey Epstein, the queen has also remained silent.
However, though the older generation was able to live their lives under the “never explain, never complain” policy, it might not be feasible for this new generation of royals and those that follow them in the future.
Prince William is rethinking the ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ policy
Following the apparent fall-out between himself and his younger brother Prince Harry, the Duke of Cambridge had apparently been rethinking the “stiff upper lip” policy.
According to Radio Times, in BBC’s documentary, Football, Prince William and our Mental Health, Prince William explores a “belief that too rigid an internalization of emotions – so often the way in stiff-upper-lip Britain – is damaging to psychological wellbeing.” He says, “We have to start questioning whether it’s relevant in today’s world.”
Just last year, the Cambridges remained silent when rumors ravaged that the duke was involved in an affair with family friend, Rose Hanbury. Now, it appears that Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge have changed their tune. Following a scathing expose on Kate by Tatler Magazine, titled, “Catherine the Great” the pair are clapping back for the first time. “This story contains a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations which were not put to Kensington Palace prior to publication,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
The pair are now taking legal action against the magazine.
The ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ policy has been horrible for the British royal family
During her time in the royal family and following her divorce, the late Princess Diana spoke about how isolating it felt to live as a royal. She also spoke out about the tabloids’ constant obsession with her and the toll that it took on her. Therefore, she refused to remain silent.
Prior to her resignation as a senior royal, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, also spoke ut about the damage of the “never explain, never complain” policy. “What that does internally is probably really damaging,” the Duchess of Sussex reflected in the ITV documentary, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey. “It’s not enough just to survive something, right? That’s not the point of life.”
Amid Megxit and even when they were still royals, the Sussexes have been adamant about speaking up for themselves. It’s nice to see that the policy is changing since it’s no longer a feasible stance for modern royals.