Is It Good to Be King?…or Queen?
There is a scene in the Netflix series The Crown from the episode entitled "The Story So Far" that speaks to each family member of the royal family.
In this scene, a sad and dejected Lady Diana is visited by Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband. Diana confirmed that Prince Charles is cheating on her. This is the final straw for Lady Di. She wants out of the marriage and out of the royal family. She's had enough of it all. She's had enough of all of them.
Lady Di is a beautiful young wife and mother who envisioned a fairy-tale life as a princess. Instead, she becomes a woman who has lost her identity. A wife lacking in love from her prince. A family who seems to lack the ability to love her. She feels alone.
She tells Philip that he must understand better than the others. He is an outsider just like she is an outsider. They married into the royal family. The difference between them is years of royal family experience. Philip has been through what she is going through. He knows the truth. He’s come out the other side.
He says to her, "You will come around eventually. You will. When you realize you can never have the other one." The other one he speaks of is her identity and a family that loves her the way she believes she should be loved.
She rejects his advice out of hand. She tells him she is leaving the family. He tells her, "Don't do it. It will not end well for you."
Why did Prince Philip stick around?
He learned his life was not his life. He was a servant of the queen. “We are all here for her,” he says. "She is the very air we breathe." There is no reason for his existence except for the queen. As an outsider to the royal family, it took over a decade for him learn this. He was given this advice by King George VI, the father of the soon-to-be queen, just before he died. But Philip didn't understand it until he lived it.
He stayed and Lady Di left. It ended well for him but not for her.
His decision was crucial to the monarchy, the royal family. In the end, the queen reigned with dignity. The royal family held fast. The monarchy survived. He did what he was supposed to do because he took the time to learn the lesson handed to him by King George.
Yes. You are married to Elizabeth. But you will also be a servant to the queen. And being a servant to the queen is your priority, not you as her husband.
King George VI told Phillip, “The title is not the job. She is the job. Loving her, protecting her. She is the essence of your duty.”
We are seeing this all played out again. This time it is Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. She is struggling with identity. Struggling to be accepted as she envisions acceptance by the royal family. She doesn’t understand that she lost her identity when she married Prince Harry. She is a servant of the monarchy. She is there for the king and not for herself. History is repeating itself.
What did I learn about family from the royal family?
Many of us claim to come from dysfunctional families. This kind of family creates a dysfunctional child. I've observed families, and they are dysfunctional for one of two reasons. The head of the family does not discharge his duties as a capable and respected head of the family. Simply stated, he doesn't do his job. Or members of the family choose to put their identity ahead of the family and walk away. In either case, the family takes the hit. When this happens, it impacts everyone in the family. This is the start of the destruction of the family.
I came from a dysfunctional family. My father did do his job but not well. He loved us and provided for us. But alcohol addiction slowly destroyed him and his good judgment. He didn't walk away from his job, but he certainly did not execute well as head of the family. He was unpredictable. This caused me to be in constant fight or flight mode. This is something I carried into my marriage and my family. And now I am the head of the Paparelli family.
It was hard for me to take on this role. It was hard because I did not have a great role model. Much of my learning came from observing other heads of families, watching movies focused on family, and trying, testing, and evaluating.
As the head of my family, I must live a life responsible for our family. I must make decisions consistent with our core values. I must also live those values. The result will be a healthy family and a respected head of the family. I am a role model for my adult children, their husbands and wives, and my grandchildren. This means I must submit myself and my identity to the family. I must love my wife, and together we make the best decisions for the family.
I must also mentor the next generation of heads of families. This includes my son and my sons-in-law. Five of my six grandchildren will be part of two other families led by two different heads of the family. The Paparelli family will be led, most likely, by my oldest son after I die.
These men need to take this responsibility seriously. To know it is coming. To observe and later lead as their families grow. If they do this, hopefully, the children of these families will not say when they become adults, "I grew up in a dysfunctional family." In fact, they won’t know what that even means.
The secret to a functional family
The queen believed God appointed her. God gave her this position, power, and responsibilities. Because of this, she always submitted to Jesus Christ as head of the family, God’s family. This submission was the secret to her fifty years of success and her magnificent legacy. She sustained the British monarchy because she knew she was, first and foremost, a servant of the living God.
And now the monarchy is in the hands of King Charles.
But our families are in our hands.