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Royal Expert Explains What ‘The Institution’ & ‘The Firm’ Are After Meghan Markle & Prince Harry’s Oprah Interview

In addition to spilling major royal tea, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry dropped some majorly confusing terms in their explosive sit down with Oprah on Sunday.

Many viewers whose jaws dropped to the floor over claims that Kate Middleton made the Suits actress cry or that one of the members of the royal family raised “concerns” about baby Archie’s skin color may have also raised their brows when Meg kept referring to “The Institution” and “The Firm” when explaining her plight for more autonomy.

Related: The Queen Responds To Harry & Meghan’s Oprah Interview

Well, scratch your heads no more because royal expert Victoria Arbiter spoke with Vox to clear up all the confusion. When asked to explain the difference between the two, the New York-based royals commentator explained:

“‘The institution’ refers to the institution of monarchy — the business of monarchy — so its public role. Within the institution of monarchy, there are palace aides. There will be private secretaries that oversee the diary and the day-to-day handlings of senior members of the royal family. There is a communications team that handles the press. Within the royal household, there are people that oversee the day-to-day running of the monarchy, whether it’s those that are working in the kitchens or those responsible for winding up the Queen’s clocks — that is a job. The institution of monarchy is the big picture.”

But what about “The Firm”?

“Now as for the firm, this is quite interesting. George VI, the Queen’s father, was the first person to have coined that phrase. What he was referring to was the family business. So historically, ‘the firm’ has referred to senior working members of the royal family.”

Got it. So, “The Institution” is the royal machine as a whole, while “The Firm” usually means the inner circle of senior royals, so think Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, and Kate Middleton.

Related: Prince Charles Poses With Black People Amid Racism Speculation

But Victoria noted how Meghan used the two terms interchangeably in her interview, suggesting that she was referring to “The Institution” overall. The expert added:

“In the interview, Meghan jumps between saying ‘the institution’ and ‘the firm.’ I don’t think she is saying ‘the firm’ in context to referencing senior members of the family. I think she’s using it in the same vein as she’s using the phrase ‘the institution.’”

She elaborated:

“The senior working members are within the institution of monarchy. But [the institution] also references all the aides that see to the day-to-day running. There were several times that Harry and Meghan said they went to the institution to complain about XYZ issues. There was one point where they did say ‘senior palace aide.’ So the institution can represent the senior members of the working royal family, but can also represent senior members of staff that oversee the day-to-day running of the royal family and indeed the monarchy.”

And, of course, “The Firm” is very much part of “The Institution.”

Interestingly, the columnist noted that while Harry and Meg were gushing over Her Majesty in their interview, they’re still throwing a lot of blame at her by criticizing “The Institution” as a whole — because Liz is essentially its CEO. She shared:

“While Harry and Meghan were very effusive in their praise of the queen, and they reiterated multiple times how wonderful she has been, still, she’s the head of the institution of the monarchy. So in criticizing the institution, they’re essentially laying blame on the queen as well. They’re not doing it directly. And I think they would be saddened if they realized that’s how it comes across because I genuinely believe their great affection for the queen. But it’s like, if you were to criticize Apple, the blame for whatever that criticism is really does rest with the CEO. It’s similar in that respect.”

Victoria went on to explain the “HR system” within the palace that Meghan and Harry referenced. When asked if it was similar to the HR departments of regular companies, she said:

“The HR department is human resources, just like at any other company. Because while Buckingham Palace is a palace, it is also the seat of the British monarchy and it is a working office. There is a human resources department because they have a responsibility to protect the staff and to make sure that everything is being done in an ethically moral fashion, just like any business. So if an employee complains, the HR department is responsible for investigating that claim. Meghan said in the interview that she went to HR to say that she needed help, and she wasn’t getting it. Human resources, whichever member of staff it was, said, ‘We can’t help you because you are not a paid employee.’ Which she wasn’t. She was a member of the family. But I think Meghan was sort of looking for help wherever she could find it. That was one area where the door was closed.”

Well, that certainly answers some of our many burning questions! Do U have a better picture of how this all works, Perezcious readers? And does it change your stance about all this royal drama? Sound off (below)!

[Image via CBS/Paul Jacobs/WENN]

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