I intended to write a completely balanced post, by definition anodyne and insipid. But I got stuck. I asked my friends, some of them avid royal watchers but nobody really had anything positive to say. As a result, I have abandoned that intended approach, and so what follows is my opinion, based of course on real events. There is no attempt to be fair and balanced.
Harry was our favourite royal. Meghan mania swept the country in 2017. How did Harry and Meghan turn into the most divisive figures in the royal family, from such a promising beginning? We welcomed Meghan as a beacon of modern Britain, and tabloids and broadsheets alike enthused about Harry’s new fiancée who would, along with Wills and Kate, energise and modernise the monarchy.
However, I don’t think Meghan ever fully understood what being a royal meant, and when she finally did, she didn’t like it. It has now become clear that this pair has already crossed the great divide, mutating before our eyes into celebrities, instead of royals forever constrained by protocol and stricture. Maybe this is what they wanted all along.
It was this boundary, however, the once impregnable chasm between celebrity and monarchy that was the cause of much friction between the Sussexes and their staff; the Sussexes and the Queen, and particularly the Sussexes and the public.
If we wondered why, at their fairytale wedding, the pews were filled with VIPs and stars they barely knew instead of family and friends, if we wondered why Prince Charles gave away the bride instead of her own father, we were even more perplexed at what was to come. A head on fight with the media, a dysfunctional family beyond parody, private letters published in the media, personal texts in the public domain, anonymous friends defending Meghan in a gossip magazine, a court case… you couldn’t make it up.
The criticism of the royal couple has come thick and fast and was brutal and intense, without doubt
This criticism gave birth to a tightly knit group of people called the Sussex squad who defend Meghan with their last breath, and any criticism of her is by definition, racist.
If we bristled at being lefctured on climate change and feminism by two highly privileged hypocrites, we were indeed labelled racists and worse. The battle lines were drawn.
But let’s rewind to their first public engagement, Nottingham 2017. The U.K. welcomed Meghan with open arms and a big heart.”Hi, I’m Meghan,”she told one woman in the crowd, “I’ve been made so welcome and I can’t believe it.” The Daily Mail wrote the very next day of her “dazzling and confident debut” and how it was a pleasure to see Harry so happy. Then there was the wedding and the honeymoon period for us all, in which we basked in their virtuous deeds and selected good causes, blissfully unaware of the coming debacle which I outlined at the beginning of this article.
However, the honeymoon ended rather sooner than anyone could have imagined, leading to the abdication in all but name which we now face today. I have heard it said that the press love to build someone up just to knock them down, but I think it’s much more complicated than that. There has to be an event or a turning point which precipitates that reaction.
I would venture that the relationship between the Sussexes and the country soured not because of intolerance and bigotry, but more that people grew tired of their increasingly woke sensibilities and brittle lectures about global warming, while taking private jets when nobody was looking. The hysterical subterfuge around the birth of Archie didn’t help, but it was their prerogative as new parents, to behave exactly as they pleased, even if it did fly in the face of royal tradition.
Yet the turning point for me, and many like me, came in October last year, when the couple were interviewed by ITV’s Tom Bradby for a documentary called Harry and Meghan:an African Journey. It was filmed during their highly successful visit to that continent. Jaws dropped during the broadcast when the couple set out to prove that no one, not even those poor unfortunates living in dirt and poverty in Africa, had a monopoly on suffering. They used the backdrop of some of the world’s poorest third world countries to whinge about their problems and first world sufferings, Harry revealed he was still not over the death of his mother, while Meghan had a mantra, “It’s not enough just to survive something, right? That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive.”
Indeed you do, but if you can bear witness to all that misery, proclaim yourself to be the sister of African women who have literally nothing and still stand in front of a camera, biting your lip with a tear in your eye, as you complain that behind the ramparts your life is tough, then you are blind as to how you are perceived and tone deaf to the needs of others.
Well now they are centre stage in their own production, and can now go and seek ( in LA!) the private family life which eluded them in Britain. Harry was not ever really happy with his royal role, and now he is free to find another one, more to his taste. In this quest for privacy, do the couple not see the irony of settling in LA of all places, purportedly writing a tell-all book about the royal family, and permitting “anonymous friends” to speak about them in a gossip magazine?
Clearly, Harry felt compressed by the drudge of royal life, compressed by the machinations of a system which demanded more of him and Meghan than they were prepared to give. Now, they leave all that to the Cambridges, whose load is heavier as a result.
Harry and Meghan will head West into the sunset, minus the “royal” title, to take their place amongst the celebrities and powermongers of Hollywood, where we hope they will “thrive”, to quote Meghan. All I hope for the future is that they are honest about the scope of their ambition and intent, and desist from blaming Britain for the bruising separation which has set them free.