The recent upheaval in the royal family is such big news that it still makes international headlines in the midst of a global pandemic.
Of course, it helps that the two stories have occasionally intersected.
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they would be stepping down from their roles as senior members of the royal family, the coronavirus was a distant threat that many believed would have a minimal impact on life in the western world.
As the pandemic progressed, we were reminded that even the rich and powerful — including royals — are not immune from its effects.
Prince Charles was diagnosed with the coronavirus and forced to recover in isolation in Scotland.
Across the UK, the impact of COVID-19 was far more profound than anticipated, a reality that was underscored by the news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had contracted the illness.
Perhaps there can be no greater testament to the Sussexes desire to separate themselves from the rest of the royal family than the fact that they proceeded with their own form of social distancing even in this time of crisis.
Last month, Harry and Meghan relocated to Los Angeles from Vancouver, a move that struck many as unforgivably decadent.
By that time, millions of Americans were sheltering in place, and the country had surpassed China as the nation hardest-hit by the virus.
Still, Harry and Meghan proceeded with plans to leave the British Empire completely in favor of her hometown of LA.
Shortly thereafter, Harry and Meghan renamed their charity after the Queen prohibited them from using the “Sussex Royal” brand.
Again, the couple was chastised for diverting attention away from the biggest public health crisis in modern history.
We’re sure they anticipated the negative reaction, but for several months now, Harry and Meghan have made distancing themselves from the royals their top priority, and they’re not about to be sidetracked now.
The question is why?
Was life at Kensington Palace (and later Frogmore Cottage) really so unbearable?
Well, according to a new report from The Express, the answer — for Meghan at least — is yes.
The problem, it seems, is that for as much as she was braced for the hard realities of royal life, Meghan still found the ensuing culture shock too much to bear.
“She had no idea how un-glamorous it really is to be a royal and, when she found out she would be a civil servant in a tiara, she was like, ‘no way,’” says royal expert Ashley Pearson.
It seems Pearson did not mean to say that Meghan was disappointed by the lack of luxury, but by the expectation that she keep her opinions to herself.
Meghan has been politically engaged throughout her adult life, and she reportedly saw her rise to royalty as an opportunity to further her humanitarian agenda.
She was repeatedly shocked when her ambitions were rebuffed and she was informed that the royals do not enter the political fray.
“Another problem the pair appear not to understand is their desire to be progressive – but seemingly without the controversy and criticism that comes from taking a stance on issues of public debate,” says journalist Tom McTague.
“At heart, it’s unclear whether Harry and Meghan realise being progressive is not an apolitical act,” he adds.
“Climate change is not apolitical. Even mental health is not apolitical. “These issues, which the couple have voiced their opinion on, come with real, important and political questions attached.”
Meghan’s heroes are the great activists who helped to shape the modern world.
McTague believes she never recovered from the shock of learning that she would not be permitted to embark on such a course of action as long as she was a member of the royal family.
Fearing that she would “become a voiceless figurehead,” Meghan reportedly sought to take a more active role “such as governor-general of Australia or Canada.”
However, she was rebuffed in those ambitions as well, reportedly being informed that “senior royals are not civil servants.”
Insiders say Meghan and Harry stepped down as a last resort, but once the decision was made, they resolved to carry it out as swiftly as possible.
As for whether or not they’ll one day be able to mend their relationship with the rest of Harry’s family, only time will tell.