I can’t help it. I have always found it and them fascinating. The Crown on Netflix only compounded my curiosity and conferred, what is likely an entirely unwarranted belief that I now have some intimate understanding of the Windsors.
If the television depiction is anywhere near accurate the compassion and sympathy I have for the Queen and the members of her immediate family is justified.
Accurate or not, it certainly solidified the conclusion I had already drawn as something of a keen observer of the royals that being a member of the British monarchy is not a fate I’d wish upon anyone.
Would I like to be a fly on the wall at the annual Christmas celebrations at Sandringham? Very much so. A friend invited along to the occasional grand wedding? Certainly. But an actual member of the firm? Absolutely not.
If I had cause to doubt the validity of this conviction, which I haven’t, the treatment of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is definitive.
It has been as awful as it’s been predictable.
After her engagement to Prince Harry was announced and before their wedding in May last year Markle was, of course, elevated to a pedestal. She was a darling of the global press who could do no wrong. So far, so predictable.
Since their nuptials, she has been, of course, knocked from that pedestal. She has been openly criticised and mocked, relentlessly, for almost every decision she has and hasn’t made.
The fact that damning allegations raised about Prince Andrew’s involvement with Jeffery Epstein weren’t pursued but 60 Minutes broadcast a program ‘investigating’ how Megan Markle ‘lost her sparkle’ is so very telling.
The human cost of what amounts to a lengthy, vicious smear campaign is real.
Prince Harry revealed as much in an unprecedented public statement, published overnight.
In it he explained that he and Meghan are suing parts of the British Press for their ‘relentless propaganda’.
He said parts of the press have ‘vilified her almost daily for the past nine months; they have been able to create lie after lie at her expense simply because she has not been visible while on maternity leave. She is the same woman she was a year ago on our wedding day, just as she is the same woman you’ve seen on this Africa tour.”
“There comes a point when the only thing to do is stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives.”
In a statement Prince Harry revealed that he and Meghan will be taking legal action against the Mail on Sunday. https://t.co/wp6Zpu9xeU
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) October 1, 2019
Consider these wretched, heartbreaking words:
“My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
— Peter Hunt (@_PeterHunt) October 1, 2019
The statement sent a shiver down my spine. I couldn’t help but remember the iconic footage of Prince Harry, at just 12 years old, in the thick of unimaginable grief, accompanying his father and brother behind his mother’s coffin, in the world’s glare.
It isn’t a fate to wish upon anyone, let alone a child.
To some the argument that a man and a woman like Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, who live one of the world’s most rarefied and privileged existences, deserve our sympathy evidently rings hollow. Why else would they be pursued so zealously?
To me their plea for amnesty cannot be ignored.
Prince Harry has been open in the past about the fact he has found his public role difficult to reconcile. It is clear that being in the spotlight isn’t of his choosing and yet it was inevitable.
His statement makes clear that for all the trimmings of a royal life, he and his wife Meghan are both struggling.
“I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long,” Prince Harry said.
“Although it may not seem like it, we really need [your support],” he finished.
Perhaps my sympathy for these two will be dismissed as a consequence of my aforementioned interest in the royal family. Personally, I’d prefer to believe sympathy in the face of suffering is the very least humanity can offer in the circumstances.
Theirs might be a different kind of suffering but it’s suffering all the same.