Meghan’s father accuses daughter of ‘cheapening’ UK’s royal family

The palace announced on Saturday that the couple would no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles and would pay their own way in life. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2020

Meghan’s father accuses daughter of ‘cheapening’ UK’s royal family

  • Thomas Markle, who is estranged from his daughter, said he believed Meghan was tossing away “every girl’s dream”
  • Thomas Markle described the royal family as “one of the greatest long-living institutions ever”

LONDON: Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, has accused his daughter of “cheapening” the British royal family, in part of an interview released a day after Buckingham Palace said Prince Harry and his wife would no longer be working members of the monarchy.
The palace announced on Saturday that the couple would no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles and would pay their own way in life. The monarchy had been thrown into turmoil earlier this month when Harry, 35, and his American former actress wife announced that they wanted to reduce their official duties and spend more time in North America.
Thomas Markle, who is estranged from his daughter, told Channel 5 news in a documentary that he believed Meghan, 38, was tossing away “every girl’s dream.”
“It’s disappointing because she actually got every girl’s dream. Every young girl wants to become a princess and she got that and now she’s tossing that away, for, it looks like she’s tossing that away for money,” Markle said.
The interview was filmed after the couple’s announcement that they would step back as senior members of the royal family. Channel 5 released part of the interview on Sunday and said the full documentary would air “in the coming weeks.”
Thomas Markle described the royal family as “one of the greatest long-living institutions ever,” saying that when Meghan married Harry in May 2018 they took an obligation “to be part of the royals and to represent the royals.”
“This is like one of the greatest long-living institutions ever,” he said. “They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, they’re making it shabby ... They are turning it into a Walmart with a crown of it now. It is something that is ridiculous, they shouldn’t be doing this.”
Thomas Markle and his daughter have been estranged since her marriage to Harry.
Earlier this month, the Mail on Sunday newspaper submitted its defense to court action by Meghan over the publication of a private letter she sent to her father.
Thomas Markle said he did not expect Meghan to get in contact.
“I can’t see her reaching out to me, especially now ... or Harry for that matter, but I think both of them are turning into lost souls at this point,” he said.
“I don’t know what they’re looking for. I don’t think they know what they are looking for.”


Did Neanderthals bury their dead with flowers? Iraq cave yields new clues

The bones of a Neanderthal's left hand emerging from the sediment in Shanidar Cave in northern Iraq, is seen in an undated photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 February 2020

Did Neanderthals bury their dead with flowers? Iraq cave yields new clues

  • Remains of 10 Neanderthals - seven adults and three infants - were dug up there six decades ago, offering insight into the physical characteristics, behavior and diet of this species

WASHINGTON: A Neanderthal skeleton unearthed in an Iraqi cave already famous for fossils of these extinct cousins of our species is providing fresh evidence that they buried their dead — and intriguing clues that flowers may have been used in such rituals.
Scientists said on Tuesday they had discovered in Shanidar Cave in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq the well-preserved upper body skeleton of an adult Neanderthal who lived about 70,000 years ago. The individual — dubbed Shanidar Z — was perhaps in his or her 40s or 50s. The sex was undetermined.
The cave was a pivotal site for mid-20th century archaeology. Remains of 10 Neanderthals — seven adults and three infants — were dug up there six decades ago, offering insight into the physical characteristics, behavior and diet of this species.
Clusters of flower pollen were found at that time in soil samples associated with one of the skeletons, a discovery that prompted scientists involved in that research to propose that Neanderthals buried their dead and conducted funerary rites with flowers.
That hypothesis helped change the prevailing popular view at the time of Neanderthals as dimwitted and brutish, a notion increasingly discredited by new discoveries. Critics cast doubt, however, on the “flower burial,” arguing the pollen could have been modern contamination from people working and living in the cave or from burrowing rodents or insects.
But Shanidar Z’s bones, which appear to be the top half of a partial skeleton unearthed in 1960, were found in sediment containing ancient pollen and other mineralized plant remains, reviving the possibility of flower burials. The material is being examined to determine its age and the plants represented.
“So from initially being a skeptic based on many of the other published critiques of the flower-burial evidence, I am coming round to think this scenario is much more plausible and I am excited to see the full results of our new analyzes,” said University of Cambridge osteologist and paleoanthropologist Emma Pomeroy, lead author of the research published in the journal Antiquity.

COGNITIVE SOPHISTICATION
Scholars have argued for years about whether Neanderthals buried their dead with mortuary rituals much as our species does, part of the larger debate over their levels of cognitive sophistication.
“What is key here is the intentionality behind the burial. You might bury a body for purely practical reasons, in order to avoid attracting dangerous scavengers and/or to reduce the smell. But when this goes beyond practical elements it is important because that indicates more complex, symbolic and abstract thinking, compassion and care for the dead, and perhaps feelings of mourning and loss,” Pomeroy said.
Shanidar Z appears to have been deliberately placed in an intentionally dug depression cut into the subsoil and part of a cluster of four individuals.
“Whether the Neanderthal group of dead placed around 70,000 years ago in the cave were a few years, a few decades or centuries — or even millennia — apart, it seems clear that Shanidar was a special place, with bodies being placed just in one part of a large cave,” said University of Cambridge archaeologist and study co-author Graeme Barker.
Neanderthals — more robustly built than Homo sapiens and with larger brows — inhabited Eurasia from the Atlantic coast to the Ural Mountains from about 400,000 years ago until a bit after 40,000 years ago, disappearing after our species established itself in the region.
The two species interbred, with modern non-African human populations bearing residual Neanderthal DNA.
Shanidar Z was found to be reclining on his or her back, with the left arm tucked under the head and the right arm bent and sticking out to the side.