My Duty Is to Love

Cornelia Powell
6 min readApr 2, 2024
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Cardiff, Wales, 2018

Through the years of reading biographies and books focused on Princess Diana — in my studies of women’s history and royal archetypes — I always held royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith as a fair and trustworthy voice. So I was surprised and disappointed recently when she appeared to join misogynistic and patriarchal-leaning writers by referring to strong women as “domineering” and deeply feeling men as “weak.”

On a promotional tour for her new book, another about the British royal family, Bedell Smith compared King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Calling Harry “weak” like the Duke of Windsor — because, if I’m understanding her reasoning, both men fell in love with strong women — and saying that “in some respects Meghan and the Duchess of Windsor have similar qualities: very narcissistic, very controlling, very dominating” — because, again, if I’m understanding her premise, that they were/are strong women. (Et tu…even you, Sally?)

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (the former King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson)

However, people who know Meghan Markle — and those more inclined to take the high road — would describe her qualities as “confident, assured, and being a leader.” And she was vilified for that — like other women who dared to step outside the narrow Windsor box. As I see it, Meghan, this accomplished, heart-guided woman, fell in love with a man of great heart — compassionate, caring, sensitive, courageous — a man who was a fellow activist motivated by creating a kinder world, all in the name of love. (And a man who inherited his mother’s “exquisite sensitivity of feeling,” in the words of Jungian analyst Jim Fitzgerald, and is committed to continuing her humanitarian vision.)

And whatever Wallis Simpson’s influence was or was not in the 1930s world of the British monarchy and its palace politics, or whatever is an accurate description of her personality, I do know she lived in a world with strict rules governing women’s behavior. She was surrounded by a catty, gossipy societal clique where women were notorious in their jealous takedown of other women and where men, steeped in that patriarchal mindset, thought it was their ‘duty’ to publicly insult women who broke those more ‘demure’ behavioral rules. (This from Wallis’ memoirs about the sacks of hate mail she received: “There can be few expletives applicable to my sex that were missing from my morning tray.”)

Historically, men who are heart centered have been called “weak.” Harry learned from his mother that it takes courage to act with “the reason of the heart,” in Jungian language, and speak out about a powerful “reason of the mind” family institution that you know to be duplicitous and callous. And he was aware of the pushback she received. No wonder he felt deeply disappointed that so little had changed from his mother’s time when a harsh palace-supported maelstrom was unleashed toward him and his wife as more and more crowds of well-wishers gathered wherever this charismatic couple traveled.

It seems the Windsor World — the family, its supporters, and its royal reporters — could use more muditā spirit. This is the Sanskrit word meaning “vicarious joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it.”

This photograph of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, by Misan Harriman, was said to capture “the power, the heart, the determination, the vision and the dedication to each other….” (@theapollogrey on Twitter)

This is the way I see it: King Edward VIII followed his heart, gave up the throne to marry the woman he loved (putting ‘feelings over duty’ — a crime in the eyes of his family), then, as reported, went on to make some inappropriate decisions about his life. But that was what he did with his life. Prince Harry followed his heart, married the woman he loved — and he loved Meghan’s strength, creativity, assuredness, and kindness — and, given his commitment to living a life freely expressed (as his mother was beginning to do), left the torment of the British press and betrayal of the family institution to protect the woman he loved, and now lives a life free to continue making an immense global contribution.

Yet it appears we still have work to do in growing beyond that narrow-mindedness of putting people in these superficial male/female boxes. This is something very close to me. My father was a tender-hearted man, kind and sensitive, beloved and deeply loyal; my mother, a beauty, was strong, determined, even fearless in many ways, with a deeply empathetic nature. And they were a beautiful complement to each other. They were aware of their particular qualities, including his ‘softness’ and her ‘strength,’ and created their own harmony together — and the relationship simply worked for them.

Isn’t finding a life partner about finding your complement, the support that brings out the best in you, a relationship where both people thrive? Gary Zukav, a visionary in the world of human evolution, writes about “spiritual partnerships” where partners come from love — being patient, kind, and encouraging of each other — and where the focus is on each other’s spiritual growth. If our volatile, divided world is to have a future, this is the kind of relationship, whether lovers or friends, that calls forth a future in unity and love.

Thank goodness, as a more aware consciousness shift is moving into the world, perspectives are changing — the world may not pull through these unsettling times if we continue to be led by men who don’t lead with their heart, or if we don’t give women who are strong, knowledgeable, good-hearted leaders a chance to lead. Perhaps that’s the British monarchy’s raison d’être — to remind us how far we still have to go!

We can’t have too many reminders to “think with the heart,” nor too many opportunities to honor women for their strength and leadership, and men for their tenderness and empathy. And from where I’m sitting, Harry and Meghan are spiritual partners who see the world, and each other, through the heart, appreciating the strengths and passions of each other — and are using their global platform to help heal a wounded world. Now isn’t that something to celebrate?

ps: I write about these royal archetypes, Prince Harry and King Edward, in my book-in-progress, The Spiritual Mission of a Princess — there was something bigger at work here. By taking bold actions focused on love, these two men, generations apart — different in personality and purpose and destiny — yet both helped expose residues of hardheartedness in the paternal societies around them. Even more importantly, their actions of the heart put attention on love, opening a cultural conversation that put love in the spotlight. Not just love as a sentiment, but as a power, as our purpose. Paraphrasing these two Windsor men raised in a duty-bound family, if we indeed have a “duty” in life, then let it be to love. ~

CorneliaPowell.com

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Cornelia Powell

Grew up on a farm exploring wonder/Worked in fashion exploring dreams/Spiritual journeyed the world exploring me/Live on a green mtn ridge exploring more wonder