The United States has a strange love-hate relationship with the British monarchy. Freud might have seen in it a titanic Oedipus complex spanning two-and-a-half centuries. But explain it as you will, American pundits routinely jeer at the monarchy, our Irish curse it and we annually congratulate ourselves at being freed of it. At the same time, if we encounter it ourselves we go to pieces.
Nowhere is this truer than in Los Angeles. Although the city is of royal foundation (courtesy of Charles III of Spain), Hollywood nevertheless churns out films depicting monarchy in the worst and/or most laughable light possible.
This is all the more amusing when one considers how hereditary an industry it is. Of course, recent revelations show that elements of that industry are run more like an Ottoman harem than any European court, but that is another issue. Here too, however, when real royalty appears, film magnates fall over themselves to bow – a phenomenon this writer has observed first-hand. But now that one of our own, Meghan Markle, is to wed your Prince Harry, this strange dichotomy is palpable.
For me, referring to the future Princess Harry (officially Princess Henry) as “our own” is true not only because she is part of an industry on whose edges I have lived for most of my life, nor merely because we were raised in the same part of Los Angeles – both industry and district sharing the name Hollywood. No, we have an additional and closer bond: we were both taught by the Immaculate Heart Sisters of California.
Now, to be fair, Miss Markle and I had very different experiences of them. They taught me in 1966-1968 at Blessed Sacrament School in Hollywood; she worked under their tutelage at Immaculate Heart Middle and High School, graduating in 1999. I knew them when they were Sisters, and watched them transform into something very different. Her future Royal Highness has only known them as they are – and therein hangs a tale.
The Daughters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary was founded in 1848 by Fr Joaquim Masmitjà i de Puig “as a means of rebuilding society through the education of young women”. The Daughters came to Los Angeles in 1871, eventually establishing a network of hospitals, retreat centres and schools throughout the West Coast. The cornerstone was Immaculate Heart College, adjoining Miss Markle’s alma mater.
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