Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Victoria Richards, The Independent
If it feels like the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle furore is reaching peak circus, that’s because it is. But I don’t blame the ex-royal couple one bit. And neither should you.
On the contrary — forget the fact that they’ve got an “explosive” documentary coming out this week, and forget loudmouths like Piers Morgan lamenting his feelings of (ahem) “exploitation” at the hands of the couple (yes, the same Piers Morgan who stormed off the Good Morning Britain set live on air after being criticised by his co-presenter Alex Beresford for his remarks about Markle in particular, and later quit).
It isn’t Harry and Meghan’s fault. They’re damned if they do... well, anything; and damned if they don’t. It is a game they cannot win. Because Morgan and his ilk won’t let them.
That’s why we see people like the former GMB host dominating the headlines, despite protesting he’s “traumatised” by the fact that his voice could be heard in the first trailer for Harry & Meghan, which dropped on Monday 5 December.
He, and far too many others like him, particularly those who frequent the dark recesses of GB News (cough, Dan Wootton, cough) seem to have delighted in staking their own reputations on dissing the Sussexes, for reasons only known to them. It is the hill they are prepared to die on. We saw it play out at the Queen’s funeral in September. And it’s about to get worse.
The latest brouhaha stems from the fact that in September 2020, Harry and Meghan signed a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix shortly after stepping down as working members of the royal family. At the time of writing, the first three episodes of that docuseries are set to drop in a matter of hours, but we don’t even need to watch them to predict the backlash. It is inevitable. We’ve already seen it gather pace on Twitter and other social media (I swear, the Sussexes could be saving children from a burning building — and people would still say they were “attention seeking”).
Harry and Meghan declined to be drawn into debate or revelation about the show at a glittering awards gala this week, which saw them honoured for their work to “protect and advance equity, justice and human rights” — and good for them. They clearly want the show to speak for itself — and they know how easily their words are twisted. They’ve found that out the hard way.
The full trailer for Harry & Meghan gives us some clues as to the righteous anger felt by the couple, who now live in California: Prince Harry (who also has a tell-all memoir coming out: Spare will be released on 10 January) is seen suggesting there were stories “planted” against Meghan during their time as senior members of the royal institution.
“There’s a hierarchy of the family,” he said. “You know, there’s leaking, but there’s also planting of stories.” And he spoke of “the pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution, this feeding frenzy”. “I was terrified,” he added. “I didn’t want history to repeat itself.” He couldn’t have a more perfect example than the response to this series in the first place. The “feeding frenzy” is live and kicking; made manifest by the likes of US broadcaster Megyn Kelly, who has accused Markle of a history of “lies”, saying she tends to “overstate adoration” towards her; and other royal commentators dismissing the pair by saying “nobody has whined more and contributed less”. Some so-called “free speech warriors” on Twitter have called for people to boycott the new show, and Morgan (yes, again) has publicly comdemned them as “repulsive, narcissistic hypocrites”. And so it goes.
I take a different view: we should praise the Sussexes for their charity work, and we should admire them for taking a bad situation and making it work for them. Isn’t that the kind of enterprising attitude all of the conservative pundits who claim to hate them would do, given half a chance? There’s only one group of hypocrites here.
Perhaps because he’s experienced it’s worst side for virtually his entire life, broadly speaking, Prince Harry is right about the British press. It’s a raucous institution, a “feral beast” you might say, intrusive, rude, abrasive, on a deadline for a story and insatiable. The media has peddled stories about him and his wife that are sometimes wide of
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