Like every Sandhurst cadet, the young prince Harry had the age-old maxim – attributed differently to Erwin Rommel, the Duke of Wellington and the Chinese general Sun Tzu from the 6th century BC. – drummed him in during his military training: the time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted.
So why is it that after all those months of so-called careful planning, the great ‘Sussex Royal’ adventure now looks more like the retreat from Dunkirk?
And why, given their clear concern to maintain their royal status, have the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shown so much respect for the person from whom that status comes – the queen?
The latest pique-filled statement on the sussexroyal.com website is enough to test the patience of the most sympathetic observers.
Like any Sandhurst cadet, Prince Harry (depicted with Meghan Markle) drummed the age-old maxim into his military training: time spent on reconnaissance is rarely wasted
Yes, it must be extremely difficult to spend a lot of time and money creating a new brand for yourself and registering an abundance of trademarks to hear that it is not a starter.
Yes, the Sussex people may feel that there is one set of rules for those who are still on the royal site and another for them.
But the couple is only to blame for themselves, not that they seem willing to acknowledge that. In the latest online message to their 11.2 million followers, they have posted a number of thinly disguised moppers about various members of the royal family.
However, it is the negative tone of their remarks about the authority of the Queen that amazes me the most and asks who advises them on earth alone.
The reasoning of their argument is as follows: We are royal and we can very well use the word ‘royal’ all over the world if we want, because it is not in the gift of the queen or the British government; we have chosen not to do this.
Last Tuesday, the Mail’s Rebecca English broke the story that Harry and Meghan Palace had told them that their ‘Sussex Royal’ brand should disappear because they are no longer part of regular royal operations. I also wrote a piece explaining that there was nothing personal about it.
On the contrary, the monarchy’s own ‘brand’ is protected by a series of established laws, including the Trade Marks Act, the Companies Act and an international agreement of more than a century and signed by 177 countries.
I also said that the couple should have consulted the official royal website. “There,” I wrote, “they will find detailed instructions from Lord Chamberlain’s office about how companies can claim any kind of” royal “status.”
The Sussexes made a long statement late on Friday, after Palace had received confirmation of the story of the Mail.
It contained a number of fussy claims, but the notable complaint was this: “Although there is no jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word” Royal “abroad, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have no intention of using it “Sussex Royal” or any iteration of the word “Royal” in any territory (within the UK or otherwise) when the transition takes place in the spring of 2020. “
What an extraordinary statement. Since filing their royal resignation with the royal family and the world, the Sussex people have said they plan to divide their time between the UK and abroad.
Why is it that after all those months of so-called careful planning, the great ‘Sussex Royal’ adventure now looks more like the retreat of Dunkirk, writes Robert Hardman (Photo: Prince Harry with Archie)
It is the dismissive tone of their remarks about the authority of the queen that amazes me the most and asks me to ask who on earth advises them, Hardman writes
They do not emigrate forever. So they could barely raise two fingers to British law and establish a fake ‘royal’ entity internationally, expecting to be taken home seriously.
This statement is also incorrect. The monarchy in combination with various “overseas” governments – including those in Canada where the couple actually lives – does have jurisdiction over the word “royal.”
That’s because the queen is sovereign over 15 countries other than this one. For example, requests for a ‘royal’ designation in Canada should be sent to the Governor General’s office on – waiting for it – 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa.
The statement also ignores the fact that there is another player in this saga, namely the state secretary of affairs, currently Alok Sharma, who has jurisdiction over “royal” names for “any type of company” under the Companies Act of 2006. Similarly, all royal trademarks under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of 1883.
Yesterday I consulted a leading trade lawyer at an international law firm with offices in the UK and the US.
Its verdict: “Signatories to the Paris Convention must make reasonable efforts to enforce the trademark laws of other signatory nation states, bringing into effect national protection laws abroad.
For example, the US already signed the convention in 1887 and Canada in 1923 so that the UK could take steps to challenge the use of ‘Sussex Royal’ on websites and branding there. “
Aside from legality, it is the confrontational tone that pots. The person behind this combative approach clearly has a weakness for public sensitivities about the monarchy in the UK. But then the couple is clearly not advised from the UK. Just look at the wording of their statement: “By agreement” instead of “By agreement.”
Or “… when the transition takes place in the spring of 2020.” Prince Harry would never write or talk like that. He would say “… when the transition takes place in the spring of 2020.”
The couple also complains that ‘while there is precedent for other members of the Royal family to look for work outside [sic] the institution, for the duke and duchess of Sussex, has set an evaluation period of 12 months. “
It is not the villain “van” that is likely to upset the queen, but the fact that the “12-month revision period” is anything but a harsh restriction on the freedom of the Sussexes. Rather, it is the way of frost to ensure that the doors remain open for the couple to return if things do not go as planned. And now they certainly don’t.