'Meghan Markle never stood a chance with the British press and public'
- Credit: EMPICS Entertainment
I remember vividly, three months after the birth of my second child, running to the bathroom, locking the door and sinking to the floor in tears.
I’d been to the pub. My first ‘night out’ (I drank lemonade) in what felt like an eternity. A man I knew fairly well asked why the hell I’d left the house. He told me it was my responsibility to be at home with my kids. And mansplained that having a baby isn’t that hard – all I had to do was breastfeed and watch TV. “You should let your husband out,” he exclaimed. “He needs a break.”
It’s one of the only times my (very non-confrontational) husband has properly stood up for me, charging to the pub, and (probably very politely) calling out said-man on his actions. That small buoyancy aid of support, at a time when I was so fragile with the baby blues, and hormonal to the point of not being able to defend myself, meant the world to a sleep-deprived, worried, anxious young mother.
So it was great admiration that I witnessed Prince Harry committing to putting his immediate family first in this week’s CBS interview with Oprah. We must all remember he’s not just a prince, he’s a husband and a father. A man who recalls returning home on multiple occasions to find his wife crying while breastfeeding their child. That really resonated with me.
I saw a man frightened for the safety of his very innermost circle, and determined to protect them at any cost – even to the detriment of relationships within The Firm (a term that’s surely been forever cemented into our collective psyche this week).
I saw a woman speaking graciously and eloquently about her experiences of racism, and depression so bleak and severe she contemplated suicide and feared being alone.
In my humble opinion both Meghan and Harry carried themselves well and this interview was far from the vicious Royal-beating it was hyped up to be.
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The question on every naysayer’s lips is ‘why’? Why have the Sussexes come forward now? If they’re worried about security and damaging public perception, why on earth parade themselves to millions across the globe?
Isn’t it obvious? As Meghan herself revealed, she met her prince and, like the Little Mermaid, the price was her freedom of speech. Prompted by Oprah Meghan admitted she was “silenced” not “silent”. While vitriolic press bubbled furiously around the couple, they could not speak. They were, as Harry put it, trapped in a system. A system so seemingly broken it effectively told struggling new mum Meghan to ‘shut up and make do’. If that's true, it’s just not good enough.
The ‘Queen of American TV’ gave the couple a safe platform from which they felt comfortable to put their side across. Is Oprah, as a friend and wedding guest of Harry and Meghan biased? Probably. But what of the bias of the wider British press?
Especially the likes of Piers Morgan, who appears to have consistently gone out of his way to host anti-Meghan guests on Good Morning Britain, spewing whatever poisonous views he has wherever and whenever he likes.
On Monday Piers felt the need to tell viewers he was “sickened” and almost brought to tears by the interview. How ITV execs have stood by for so long, allowing him to even criticise Meghan’s mental health issues, is shameful in my opinion.
Three cheers for Monday guest Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu who called him out as a “disgrace”, and for co-host Alex Beresford whose defence of Harry and Meghan and admonishment of Piers this week caused him to walk out of GMB like a spoilt brat.
In the wake of the #freebritney movement (that documentary aired a couple of weeks ago), The Guardian published an interesting piece at the weekend about the toxic, misogynistic culture of the celebrity magazine world and global press in the early noughties, and went on to express this kind of content wouldn’t necessarily be suitable today.
But it IS still happening. And in front of our very eyes.
Piers aside, look at the polarised stances of the Daily Mail, for example, towards Meghan and Kate. Kate the nurturing mother cradling her bump. And Meghan the vilified interloper vainly stroking her stomach for publicity.
In a documentary on Channel 5, aired pre-Oprah interview, Meghan’s appearance at Sandringham just a year or so into courting Harry, prompted anger. Why wasn’t the Duchess of Cambridge privy to such an honour earlier in her and Wills’ relationship?
In her mid-30s when they became official, and keen to start a family, there’s no doubt the process of initiating Meghan into the royals early, against Royal protocol, would have to have been adapted.
Let’s not forget, William and Catherine were in their early 20s when they officially presented themselves as a couple. They had plenty of time on their hands. Kate was groomed over many years to be the wife of the second in line to the throne. And with Diana not even dead 10 years, the public, desperate for a love story, were drawn to the romance of the first-born of the People’s Princess finding ‘the one’. It’s a narrative the British press has been happy to sell. She was the modern-day Diana, they exclaimed.
Conversely, from the outset direct comparisons have been drawn between American divorcee Meghan and Wallace Simpson. There was never a level playing field for the former actress. She’s never had a chance.