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Meghan and Harry's Exodus

American expat Alex Kolton also married an Englishman. Here's how she survived!
By Alex Kolton
Published on January 12, 2020

I know something about what it has been like for Meghan to marry, move to the UK and learn the ropes. 20 years ago, I too married an Englishman who is far from a royal but English through and through. A new life, new city, new family, new language (all the subtle nuances) takes a steely stomach and endurance.

It doesn't seem that Meghan has given it the old college try.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have packed it in rather quickly, less than two years since their May 2018 wedding. Of course, I am not a TV star or in the spotlight trying to win over the public and the haranguing media but in the end, finding your way and fitting in with family and friends is at the centre of your success. I wanted very much to learn the ropes, make usage of the British humour and un-code the quirky British ways. I made it my duty to become culturally literate by studying subtle nuances in conversations, watching retro TV shows and theatre for cultural references, embracing their strange behaviours and remaining lost while driving as my husband insisted I learn by A-Z not sat nav. When I first arrived, I met an American on the tube who had been living here for 14 years and she said, without humour, "It takes about seven years to make real English friends, and once you do, they are yours for life." Opposingly, when meeting Americans, they can be much more sycophantic offering false flattery and immediate friendship. And she was right, it did take some time and the, "seven year thaw process" was not always the case but there were many lonely times. I wonder if Meghan just couldn't endure the process?

Was Meghan ever going to conform to learn the ways of her husband's people and let ego take a back seat to the job description and duty? She was a very difficult read with her Mona Lisa smile and while I believe the British wanted to embrace her, and did so at the beginning, doubt soon set in. Some started questioning if she was genuine, which might have overshadowed Meghan's and Harry's heroic effort and work. Meghan and Harry could have stepped it back with the Queen's blessing which would have shown strength over the dark media and social idiots and demonstrated a message of perseverance to young people but they took a left turn.

It is publicly known that Meghan struggled with the household staff and some of it could have been cultural unpreparedness and not enough pre-coaching in how to manage the British. The British people reacted to Meghan's attitude and to quote Maya Angelou, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel". I was personally disappointed as an American living in Britain when Meghan would not turn out to greet President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump when they visited London last year. It was stated that Meghan was on maternity leave with baby Archie but it was understood that three days after the presidential visit she flew to New York to see Serena Williams play. Many of her choices have been scrutinised but there must have been a straw that broke the camel's back which drove The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to that place of no return. I suspect it was something minor and irrelevant, like a reaction to a request for more ice or bacon-mac and cheese at midnight that ignited the rip. We will never know but I do believe that it is still salvageable. Harry and Meghan are an important couple with lots of great work to do, let's remain optimistic as we as Americans by default do anyway.

Alex Kolton Alex Kolton

Alex's tips on how to get on as an American living in London

Don't be a bragger: The British despise it, they have other ways of imparting their brilliance such as hanging a letter from the Queen and pictures from Oxford school days in their bathrooms.

The 'TH' can be an 'F': "Waltham Forest" is not "Wolf in Forest"

Watch the Netflix series The Crown: It's an Education!

Learn to apologise profusely, even if you aren't in the wrong.

Learn to thank profusely, even if you waited 20 minutes for the waiter to bring the damn menu.

Be prepared to have what you just said repeated back to you, it drives me crazy but it's just what they do!

Lower your voice!


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