The big news out of England this week is that Prince Harry, the younger of Charles and Diana’s two children, is now engaged to American actress Meghan Markle. It’s not exactly a huge surprise, as reports of the two dating have been swirling for a while now, but it’s still a pretty big deal. Even beyond just the regular British excitement about an upcoming royal marriage, there’s the thing about Markle being both biracial and a divorcée, which are not big deals in and of themselves, especially now in 2017, thankfully, but still represent a step forward for an institution that once treated both as non-starters for potential partners. Hooray for progress, hooray for Meghan Markle, hooray for America finally infiltrating the monarchy.
But it does raise a few questions, this whole partnership. Some are being hashed out by experts on the royals and some are being Googled by curious Americans. I have one, too. A simple one, really. Do you think Queen Elizabeth has seen an episode of Suits?
It’s a fair question. Do you think Queen Elizabeth, Her Majesty, has seen at least one episode of the USA drama Suits, which features Meghan Markle as a paralegal named Rachel Zane. I started thinking about it last night and now it is all I can think about. This is a problem. I have things to do. It’s the same thing that happened when I started wondering if Beyoncé has seen The Fugitive. That’s just how my brain works, I guess. And now I can’t turn it off.
So, more to get it out of my head so I don’t go crazy, let’s talk this out. Below, please find the cases for and against Queen Elizabeth having seen an episode of Suits.
Of course Queen Elizabeth has seen an episode of Suits. Maybe she’s not a superfan who has been watching from the beginning, but she’s seen at least one episode. An episode of Suits is like 42 minutes long. She definitely has 42 minutes to spare to check out the work of the woman her grandson is going to marry. I mean, what does Queen Elizabeth even do, anyway? I watched the entire first season of The Crown and I’m still not entirely sure. She goes to a lot of dinners and looks concerned about things, I know that much. But dinner only takes up, what, two or three hours, max, even if you eat very slow and wait for many aristocrats in formal military attire to make toasts and other such speeches? That leaves plenty of time to watch an episode or two of Suits, for research, if nothing else.
This brings up another point, also based entirely on things I learned from watching The Crown, which is where somewhere north of 90 percent of my knowledge of the British monarchy comes from. (The rest is from King Ralph.) Royal-types are very concerned about marriage. Very concerned. Too concerned, many might say. Things have certainly loosened up a bit in the last few decades, as the fact that Meghan Markle had a previous marriage did not send hundreds of British journalists into a state of very polite chaos (a newspaper editor on The Crown shouted “Make it peppery!” at a writer who was covering a similar story in the 1950s, which I think about every time I open a new draft), but it’s still a thing, to some degree. I could easily see some Buckingham Palace employee knocking on the door to the Queen’s bedroom and bringing in the first season of Suits on DVD — on a silver tray, under a silver lid — so she can judge the character of her grandson’s new lover for herself. She won’t tell anyone she’s doing it. Not unless there’s an… issue. But there’s entirely too much talk about “the state of the monarchy” among royals to allow an actress on a cable lawyer show to just barge in and make herself at home. She definitely watched one episode. Due diligence and all.
(And that’s just the cynical reason. There’s also the thing where she has been a ruling dignitary for over half a century and is well-versed in the art of conversation. She could have watched an episode or two just to bring it up the first time they met. The queen is no rookie at this.)
It’s also fun to imagine Queen Elizabeth doing this, watching one episode of Suits as some sort of scandal avoidance protocol, and then getting, like, way into it. Queen Elizabeth binge-watching Suits. Queen Elizabeth developing theories about the show and firm opinions about whether Harvey and Mike deserve to be punished for the whole “pretend Mike is a lawyer” ruse. Queen Elizabeth leaning in very close to Meghan Markle and whispering “I really do not like this Louis Litt person” in the most warbly British accent you can picture. I want it all to be true so much that I kind of have to believe.
Queen Elizabeth has absolutely not seen an episode of Suits. No chance. First of all, Suits does not seem like a very “The Queen” type of show. I know this because I just Googled “does the queen watch tv” and found an article that contains this paragraph:
She’s a fan of political programmes with an edge. Shows like Question Time bore her unless they’re confrontational. She’ll watch racing (but detests ad breaks since it moved from the BBC) and loves Antiques Roadshow and Antiques Road Trip – but finds Bargain Hunt ‘slightly vulgar’, says my source.
Bargain Hunt is a British game show about people buying antiques. People on Suits swear and have sex, kind of a lot, sometimes in the office, including one time Mike and Rachel made very passionate love in the file room of their law office, which is notable because, again, Rachel is played by Meghan Markle. If the Queen finds the antiquing version of Storage Wars to be “slightly vulgar,” the Queen will not want to watch Suits.
(The same article also says she watched Downton Abbey, though. And there are reports of her watching The Crown. Both of those had a little titillation to them, so maybe I’m being unfair. More importantly, imagine how weird it must be to watch a 10-hour season of television about yourself. I do not think I would like it.)
Also, let’s double back to the thing about her watching it for research, either as a way to make conversation or to try to get out in front of any hypothetical issues. The Queen does not actually have to watch the show. The Queen has people to do that for her. They can watch and then give her a report. At this point in our discussion, please do picture a royal staffer binge-watching Suits in a tuxedo with tails and everything, taking comprehensive notes so he can provide her with a full and accurate accounting of the show. “Harvey Specter is a scoundrel,” I imagine one sentence reading.
It’s like when an actor or actress appears on a talk show and the host says “I loved this movie” and then dances around any specific information about it. They didn’t see the movie. They just got a note card from someone that contains enough information for five-to-seven minutes of polite conversation. That’s all the Queen needs to do. It’s not like Suits is gonna come up a lot from now on. It would be super-weird if it did. She just needs to get through that first conversation. Bingo bango, problem solved.
The Queen has probably not seen an episode of Suits.