I must confess that the passing of Prince Philip would not have had much impact on me but for the Netflix series, ‘The Crown’. Every instance of his life that was presented by the BBC today harked back to the scenes that had unfolded on the screen. It helped me relate to the Prince, whom I would have otherwise considered just another royal who led a lofty life in the Buckingham Palace and about whom I barely had any understanding. Apart from the jaw-dropping opulence of the royal settings and lifestyle, (which was often referred to as ‘luxury hotel’ milieu), two things stood out for me in the viewing of the four seasons of the TV series. One, the manner in which Prince Philip stood by his wife as her biggest bulwark of support through the thick and thin. The fact that he was not only the longest serving consort of a British monarch, but also was truly the proverbial ‘significant other half’, never once doubting his role as a partner, never once relinquishing the responsibility of a husband, never once leaving the Queen to her defenses in her long reign impressed me very much. That apart, what made me sit up and take notice about the royal history is that we often fail to see the truth about people whose lives are projected as exemplary and enviable. It is this second feature that I want to address in this piece, although what prompted me to write it in the first place is the Prince’s demise. From whatever I witnessed in the series, there was nothing about the lives of the royals that I envied about. Neither the palaces nor the titles nor the regalia that set them apart from commoners impacted me. Through the several decades that were portrayed on screen, and over the many characters whose distinguished lives we had believed were fabled, one thing was reinforced — no man’s life is a fairy tale. There was so much of discontent and despondency lurking in the corridors of the royal homes that even a moment’s contemplation of what it meant to be one among them sent shivers down my spine. As an ordinary person, I am, at least, at liberty to demonstrate my emotions and frustrations, but a majority of royals lived stifled lives, their deepest desires and dreams smothered by unbending protocols and frosty demeanors. Our lives too might have been restrained by stiff traditions of our lands, but we considered it normal, because we were common people. Deprivations were part of our existence. Not so for the royals, surely? Their lives were perfect. They had it all — all that you and I could only remotely imagine, didn’t they? I mean, to be a princess or a prince is every child’s dream, it’s part of their pretend plays, their doll games, and their teenage fantasies. To be a King or Queen meant having all the wealth and glory that we are presently hankering after; precisely the things we are chasing in our diurnal routine. Let us admit it — we set ourselves on course to building an opulent life, akin to royalty. We strive for deference and adulation from people around us, we do everything in our capacity to become renowned, to be looked upon, to be idolized. Exactly the same things that the royals seem to have in abundance, things that we presume will bring ultimate happiness. Alas, what a folly! Time after time, we have been advised that these things that we celebrate externally do not bring us fulfillment. Why then do we still live in the fallacy that those are the very things we must attain, by hook or by crook. No, living in palaces doesn’t make us happier. Power doesn’t make us secure. Titles don’t make us stronger. Eating with silver spoons doesn’t make our food tastier. A Rolls Royce doesn’t make the ride smoother. I saw that truth again, although in a dramatized version, that where there was a lack of love, there was pain. Where there was vanity there was dissatisfaction. Where there was idolizing, there was fear of losing grace. Nothing, nothing at all, about a royal life was worth coveting in my eyes. People who live in castles are humans too. They too hurt, they too bleed from their wounds, and when their time is up, they too die. If there was anything that held their lives up, it was unconditional love. It is the only thing that will see us through, just as it saw the old royal couple through their more than 70 years of wedded life. Tonight, the Queen will be lonely in her grief, because not many will realize that before she became a monarch, she was a woman and a wife. The protocols of a royal life may not allow her to wear that mantle of ordinariness and grieve for her love openly, and that is only one of the many deprivations of a rich life which we all foolishly crave for. From this side, we will never know how poor a prosperous life on the other side can be.