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Whatever you think of Harry and Meghan, their media critics are far worse | Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex


Like a lot of middle-aged newspapermen, the only reason I lose my mind over anything Meghan does is because I care – truly care – about the dignity of the royal family. There is something deeply sacred and pure about the throne of Olde England, which will in due course be inherited by a man who fantasised about being reincarnated as a tampon. The newspapermen know the thing about the tampon because the man’s phone calls were hacked, and then they published them. So yes, if it falls to Fleet Street’s noblemen to defend the honour of the crown against a Californian wellness bore, then so be it.

News that Meghan and her husband Prince Harry are expecting another baby is followed by news they will appear on Oprah. Both of these pieces of news follow last week’s news that the duchess had won her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday, which had published her private letter to her father. As you can imagine, this triple-threat of tidings has caused the bed of some commentators to be completely shat.

Alas, no matter how ridiculous anything Meghan and Harry ever do is – and they frequently are ridiculous – it will never, ever be even a hundredth as ridiculous as the behaviour of those foaming at the mouth about it. Where do you start with people whose chief criticism of the couple is that they are privileged and largely talentless, and the only reason they’re raking it in is because of their name? “We’ve got a caller on line one who says that up till now the royal family’s always been a meritocracy.” Can’t believe they’ve denied talented grafters like Fergie’s girls their chance.

As for the complaint that Meghan and Harry are using their association with the crown to enrich themselves, have we stumbled into the 11th century? If not, please catch up! It’s always been this way. I guess Meghan and Harry’s real crime is making money off TV companies as opposed to the backs of peasants or siphoning it out of the empire. On a PR level, it would probably help the Sussexes tactically if they now partnered with a pirate slaver, or commandeered an entire country’s mining concessions. A series of tedious authored documentaries for Netflix is simply too grotesque a route to wealth.

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As someone whose chief concern is the gaiety of the nation, I find the new power dynamics quite bracing. The sovereign grant paid by UK taxpayers to the British royal family is £85.9m, which is less than Netflix spends on a single series of The Crown. You have to remember that America is a place so gushing with money that even Duchess Fergie has found ways to get sprayed with it there. It’s somewhere even former royal butler Paul Burrell had his own TV show. He was a judge on something called American Princess, which taught US girls how to behave like a princess. I never watched it, but hope one of the challenges was playing dead while Paul put a load of your dresses and more portable belongings in his car then hid them in his attic. For “safekeeping”. Truly, he was Diana’s rock.

I like to think of Paul as a rock in the Alcatraz sense, in that you honestly can’t escape him. He still pops up, seemingly bi-weekly, to offer a verdict about how Meghan “isn’t helping herself”. Unlike Paul, who’s certainly helping himself. Like the newspapers and the media outlets, Burrell serves as a reminder that only certain people and organisations are permitted – usually by themselves – to make money out of royalty.

As it goes, I always thought Meghan was an ideal fit with the House of Windsor. Like them, she has several appalling and grasping relatives, and though they are not as innately classy as Prince Andrew or the children of SS officers or anything, the no-good Markles gave obligingly car-crash interviews and obediently staged photos for the press. They are, in that sense, deeply Windsorian. Ultimately, the Markles seemed to understand it was their job to provide competitively priced content from which newspapers could profit much more handsomely than themselves. Just like the royal family Meghan and Harry have left behind on this septic isle.

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Naturally you can see why some small-pond UK pundits simply can’t handle the Sussexes’ move to America. It’s a horrendous moment when you realise your competition for royal stories and interviews is no longer some necrotic dipsomaniac on a rival tabloid, but Oprah.

Much UK media reaction to Meghan and Harry reeks of this gathering powerlessness. Though having less and less of a clue is certainly not limited to this matter. Face it, we’re a country where one of the best ideas the government could come up with for hanging on to an independence-leaning Scotland was sending Prince Edward to live in it – a solution that treats Scotland like some Victorian attic. Maybe we should store some of Paul Burrell’s dresses in Scotland.

We’re a country where the guys leading the media charge against Meghan are so emotionally warped that the only way they can begin to release their feelings of social, racial and sexual resentment is by using a 94-year-old woman’s feelings as a proxy. “They have disrespected the Queen” really means “they have disrespected this newspaper” or “they have disrespected me”. So you keep hearing people saying “how could they do this to the Queen?” and “it’s the Queen I feel sorry for”. Why? She’s not your grandmother. You don’t know her socially. It doesn’t count that you’ve been through her bins or covertly taken pictures of her breakfast table or whatever. And it hardly needs saying that she would find you, personally, absolutely detestable. I honestly wouldn’t wet your pants about it, you know?

Yet the wetting of pants continues. The biggest cry this week is that Meghan and Harry do want publicity, but only the kind that suits them. They “want it all their own way”. Um … yes? So does everyone. So do I. So, most pertinently, do you.

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You want people to care about only one human right, the right to free speech, unless it’s Meghan and Harry, in which case they can’t have it. You want people to think you’re the greatest journalists in the world, even though you had the story of the prince and his paedo mate staring you in the face and preferred to run headlines like “Is Meghan’s favourite [avocado] snack fuelling drought and murder?” You want people to only remember the driver was drunk, even though there was a large number of paparazzi chasing her at high speed. You want to loftily declare you will no longer use paparazzi photos, then use them all the time, every single day. In short, you want the fricking fairytale. Well, guess what: EVERYONE ELSE WANTS IT TOO.

So if it looks to you like Meghan’s getting it, and you’re not any more, then you need to face the unavoidable takeout: you’ve been outmanoeuvred by an emotional wellness podcaster. It’s like being out-strategised by kale. As people who care – truly care – about dignity, do just let the absolute indignity of that sink in.



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