Service and Celebrity

I’m not someone who’s really into “celebrity culture,” but I admit that I’ve been really glued to what’s happening with Prince Harry and Megan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in England.

Part of that is definitely because I’ve been watching The Crown on Netflix, which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry’s grandmother.

And, sure, the show is a dramatization, but it gives us a look at what royal life is like. Even though the royals are ridiculously wealthy, they’re also under so much pressure all the time. 

It’s not easy to be in the public eye. People are watching and talking about every pound you gain or lose, every time you change your hairstyle, gossiping about every person you date. 

And the royal family tries to put their own spin on things to make it seem like everything is calm and happy. Like Prince Charles marrying Lady Diana when he didn’t really love her, but he really loved Camilla Parker Bowles the whole time! Well, at least they had their happily ever after, even if it took them a few decades. 

But then I look at what Harry and Megan have done, stepping down from their royal duties, and involving themselves so much in the service of others through humanitarian and environmental work. They have the means to put themselves at the forefront. And Harry made a choice to have a partner in his life that shares his value system. I know that the royal family has their issues, that they’re “allowing” Harry and Megan to step down, but he’s still part of the family. 

Even still, I’m so inspired, because all of us should have something in our lives that is in the service of others, even if it’s on a small scale. Something that really drives us to do good for something bigger than ourselves. 

Before the pandemic, I was working with my friend Beth Thompson, who works for a service organization. We were trying to figure out how I was going to get more involved, to do more service work between all my travel.

And then, of course, COVID happened, so all of that planning went on hold, and I had to focus on taking care of my own people. No matter what happened, I needed to make sure that none of my employees would suffer financially even if I had to cut back. I wasn’t going to let the massive upheaval of COVID affect the people who worked for me. 

Years ago, I dated a Saudi prince. And he’d ask me, “If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?” (A million dollars was worth more back then!). And my answer was always the same. I’d buy an old Victorian house in San Francisco and create a home for runaways and families fleeing dangerous home situations. My mother and I had nowhere to go when I was little, so I always dreamt of creating a safe space for others like us.   Now, can I do that now? No. But working with Beth and other organizations does make a difference. 

So, all of this is to say that I’ve been thinking about service. About helping others. About how we should work for a cause or causes bigger than ourselves. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in our own problems (or a binge-worthy Netflix show), but we need to put our own lives into perspective. 

What are you doing for others at this challenging time? How are you serving something outside yourself? 

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