The international glamocracy is the Clooneys summering in Laglio on Lake Como when they need to get away from the stresses of life in Los Angeles, Manhattan and Berkshire. It’s Taylor Swift singing the praises of Highgate pubs and jetting between homes in Nashville, Tribeca, Newport, Beverly Hills and possibly north London, too. It’s Rihanna letting slip that she’s lived in London since 2018. It’s Meghan’s mate and fashion designer Misha Nonoo’s Bahrain-London-Paris upbringing and Italian weddings (two of them! For two different husbands!).
All of them have access to money (mountains of it) and an apparent willingness to pick up and zoom across the world at any time.
It is not, in other words, William and Kate in Norfolk. ‘That was the path that Harry was expected to take,” says Camilla Tominey, royal expert and associate editor of The Telegraph. “It was assumed he would marry an English girl and they would become a less senior version of the Cambridges – and maybe that was part of the problem, this fear Harry had that he was always going to be overshadowed, not only by William and Kate, but also by the children.
“Actually, the most unexpected aspect of marrying Meghan was that she’s an American. After having had the types of girlfriends you might have seen in parties in the back of Tatler, suddenly he chose someone completely different.”
He’s joining a set with a dazzling history. This type of borderless existence lubricated by extreme wealth has always existed in some form or another. What makes the modern glamocracy different is its visibility, its ease of movement and its lack of interest in blending in or assimilating, which rarely works in England anyway. (The glamocracy is not Madonna going the full Mitford in tweeds and riding helmet during her Guy Ritchie phase but it might be Madonna moving to Lisbon so her son can attend a football academy.)
The glamocrats also display a certain savvy when it comes to self-promotion, or cause-promotion. If you (“you” being Meghan) know all eyes are going to be on you anyway, why not publicise the work of a local women’s shelter, right?
Of course, there are the occasional challenges. One-per-centre snafus. Regulars like you and I can’t begin to imagine how irritating it must be to search your Hamptons house top to bottom for a favourite Brunello Cuccinelli jumper, only to realise you left it in the castle on your last trip to the Highlands.
And what about education? Children may be relatively portable until school age, but then they require either a mobile teaching squad (tutors can be convenient), a place in a reputable boarding school, or for the family to settle in one place (for term time, at least). Amal Clooney has said her twins, still just two and a half, will attend school in the US; will Archie follow in his father’s Etonian footsteps, or go to school in Canada? (Side note: will Archie not have a British accent? The horror!)
All of the above pales against the deterrent that is the US tax code. There’s a reason that every visitor to the US embassy in London chuckles, then shudders, over a full-page ad in the in-house American in Britain magazine. It reads: “Be careful about falling in love with a British accent. Raising two flags on the front lawn can become a headache for tax and estate planning.”
The life of a glamocrat, then, requires impeccable organisational skills (or a few PAs with them), wardrobes stocked with multi-buys of favourite designer items and a certain disregard for jet lag (or a stockpile of melatonin to take the sting out).
Style-wise, glamocrats often develop a uniform that transcends season, location or company. Amal Clooney adores vintage couture; other glamocrats stick to neutral knitwear. (You’d think Succession’s Shiv Roy owned stock in the colour beige.) This doesn’t require meticulous packing – just the right contacts. One fashion concierge (aka elite personal shopper) specialises in “curating” holiday wardrobes for her VIP clients. They simply WhatsApp her with a brief (a two-week jaunt to the West Coast, with three evening events, a luncheon and pool party, say), approve her selections and tell their staff to look out for trunks filled with their choices arriving at the LA house.
Harry, by the way, was already gravitating toward the international glamocracy before he met Meghan. He’s a multi-multi-millionaire who skis in Verbier and counts Barack Obama among his friends (tick, tick, tick).
Harry, as much as Meghan, would have decided to shop for a country house not in Norfolk, where they could have parked their muddy wellies in Kate and William’s boot room, but in the Cotswolds, land of the Beckhams, Daylesford and Soho Farmhouse. He’s a natural glamocrat whose choice of spouse makes charting his own course possible – even if it’s different than he expected it to be.
“In times when he became frustrated with the trappings of his royal life before Meghan, he always talked about moving to Lesotho – not living it up with the Trudeaus and Mulroneys in Canada, or hanging around on the red carpet with Oprah. How this actually is going to work and manifest itself remains to be seen,” Tominey says. “His introduction into the LA jet set has been interesting, and could pose problems.”
So what’s a mixed-nationality couple with all the resources of the international glamocracy at their fingertips to do? Lean into it. Hire the right staff. Buy three versions of any fashion item you admire. Keep all the fans on Instagram happy. And most importantly, keep those passports up-to-date. If all else fails, call Granny. She’ll know what to do.
The Telegraph, London