Why are American media paying so much attention to Harry and Meghan?
It’s not like Harry is close to the throne or anything.
In fact, he’s way back, sixth in line to the throne held by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. And he’s not only behind his father, Prince Charles and his brother, Prince William. He’s also behind William’s three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis according to the British rules of succession.
As far as royalty goes, he’s a minor player, much moreso since he chose a self-imposed exile from the Royal family.
“In Britain, they were a powerful force,” royal biographer Christopher Wilson wrote in the Express, a daily newspaper in the United Kingdom. “But when Harry walked away from royal duties he broke the magic thread which binds royalty to the people. It’s taken a long time for the penny to drop, but Harry has discovered he is no king of the high seas but a castaway stranded on a desert island.”
In La-La Land , things are different, but that isn’t stopping the couple from aggressively seeking attention, despite their earlier claims that they wanted to secure their privacy.
Prince Harry’s biographer, Angela Levin, writing in Tatler, characterized the behavior of the Sussexes as “increasingly self-centered,” with their decision to decamp to Los Angeles as proof. “Their choice of priorities smacks more of spoilt defiant teenagers than adults in their mid and late-thirties,” Levin said.
In the Netflix hit The Crown, Prince Charles, frustrated over the lack of praise he receives, says pleadingly to his mother, Queen Elizabeth, “I am not just a symbol. I have a beating heart. A character. A mind and a will of my own. I can lead not just by wearing a uniform or cutting a ribbon, but by showing people who I am. Mommy, I have a voice.” The queen replied acidly, “Let me let you into a secret. No one wants to hear it. No one.”
That’s apparently not the case with Prince Harry.
The Sussexes quickly signed with the the Harry Walker Agency, which also represents the Obamas and the Clintons, to arrange paying speaking engagements. The British Sunday Times reported in Feb. 2020 that JP Morgan paid the Sussexes over $1 million to attend an investment summit in Miami at which Harry spoke; Page Six , a gossip column for the NY Post, reported they were paid “around $500,000 plus expenses.”
The Sussexes showed no signs they wanted to avoid the glare of the public eye when they followed the lead of Barack and Michelle Obama and signed a mega-deal with streaming giant Netflix. The deal, thought to be worth more than $100 million, is to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming. When the deal was announced on Sept. 2, 2020, the New York Times observed in a somewhat snide tone, “It is unclear how much Harry and Meghan will be paid, given their lack of producing experience.”
The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported on Nov. 20, 2020 that Harry and Meghan have also discussed with Netflix making a documentary that would center on the couple’s first year after splitting from the Royal Family, their new life in California and the reasons why they fled Britain.
Meghan Markle on her own hasn’t been a shrinking violet either. In a Nov. 25, 2020, the New York Times ran an Opinion column by Markle, “The Losses We Share.” Markle, identified as “a mother, feminist and advocate,” disclosed she had a miscarriage in July 2020. Media across the board jumped on the story and it was featured on network and cable news shows.
“Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, reveals she had a miscarriage in July, calls for compassion in a polarized world,” ran the Washington Post headline.
The media almost uniformly characterized the Opinion column as brave and emotional; I thought it was gauche and self-promotional.
Even moreso because it came after the disclosure on social media on Oct. 1, 2020 that Chrissy Teigen, wife of singer John Legend, had suffered a miscarriage the day before. Markle’s November column about her miscarriage three months earlier in July came across as, “Hey, look at me, too.”
In Craig Brown’s book, “Ninety-nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret,” he describes Margaret as “wanting to be treated as both equal and superior.” I think we’d all be better off if the media treated Harry and Meghan as equals, just regular folks, and spared the rest of us the breathless reporting on their every move and word.
After all, the United States has long rejected according nobility high rank. Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution specifically states: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.” Alexander Hamilton wrote, “Nothing need be said to illustrate the importance of the prohibition of titles of nobility. This may truly be denominated the corner stone of republican government; for so long as they are excluded, there can never be serious danger that the government will be any other than that of the people.”
The Duke and Duchess were mildly interesting and entertaining before. Now, as Rhett Butler said to Scarlett o’Hara in Gone with the Wind in response to her tearful question: “Where shall I go? What shall I do?”, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”