Further Reflections and The Best Article on the Oprah/Meghan and Harry Show
There are so many ongoing lessons to learn from the Oprah/Meghan/Harry saga. So many lessons to be learned. One of which is that life, situations and human beings are complex. So we need to avoid the simple binaries. I find it fascinating that Twitter has permitted considerable abuse against me – but flags my article as potentially offensive and hidden!
There are lots of other things that are coming out which back up what I have said in both articles. For example the stage management of the media is shown in two examples – Meghan Markle contacted ITV to complain about Piers Morgan. He’s now gone. Secondly her team (yes she does have one to manage her publicity manipulation) warned the BBC about who they should have on shows discussing the interview! Ie. Don’t use old white men…
And the money aspect. CBS paid over $10 million to air the show. Harry and Meghan are big box office in the US now. They will be raking it in.
There is a pattern here in the Western world – the powerful get to control the narrative. Freedom of the press is becoming an endangered thing. Another example of this is in Germany where a childrens book on Covid has been pulped because the Chinese government objected to the fact that it referred to the fact that Covid originated in China. Numerous bots inspired tweets in German attacking the book, and as a result it has been pulped, with an abject apology and a promise of correction in the new edition. Again, truth and freedom don’t matter – just money and power.
Meanwhile in my own situation I was intrigued to come across this excellent Premier article from this month by Heather Tomlinson in which she argued against cancel culture. She wrote “This magazine is an important platform for the Christian community in the UK, and all the editors I have worked under have tried to fairly represent people across the theological spectrum, including more liberal, charismatic and conservative views, as well as different political opinions. Yet there are always letters of complaint. Many of these demand that certain voices are ‘cancelled’.” It appears that Premier has ignored her warning and has now itself bowed to the cancel culture. Sam Hailes the editor was quite happy to accept my article until he got push back by people who were ‘hurt’. So I am cancelled. Ironically the Chinese Communist Party used the same weapon when seeking to get the German childrens book cancel – they had lots of people write in and say they were ‘hurt’.
I will write further about racism and mental health – both important issues which should be taken seriously. But because they have been weaponised I think that ultimately the use of these issues to attack others, and justify yourself, runs the enormous risk of trivialising and politicising them. In that regard can I refer to this article in the Australian by the wonderful journalist and foreign editor of The Australian, Greg Sheridan. (it’s worth subscribing to The Australian just for his articles alone!). It is by far the best analysis I have yet read. I don’t often share full articles but this is really outstanding. By the way I note that he writes “Harry and Meghan deployed the two most lethal weapons of personal testimony — mental health and race.” I was cancelled by Premier because I used the phrase ‘played the race card’.
Royal ‘celebs’ Harry and Meghan add to toxic assault on the West
You can cavil at the ubiquity of television, or its intrusiveness, or superficiality. But it is powerful and relentless in bringing the underprivileged into our living rooms, our head space. Suffering Rohingya in Myanmar, slum dwellers in Kolkata, Ebola victims in Africa, even the chronically unemployed and drug-addicted in the worst inner-city blight spots of the big Western metropolises, from Detroit to Marseilles.
Rarely have the sensitive viewer’s withers been rung so much as by the heartbreaking spectacle of disadvantage, persecution and suffering revealed by the ace investigative journalist Oprah Winfrey this week. There, in the slums of Santa Barbara, is a family forced to cower in their miserable nine-bedroom house, worth only a handful of royal dust at $US15m (nearly $20m in our money), trapped in the Montecito ghetto, where more than 90 per cent of the wealthy residents are white.
Harry and Meghan splashed $US15 million on this California home.
Credit: Sotheby’s International Realty
And such rough neighbours — Oprah, Ellen De Generis, Kevin Costner. What a neighbourhood. The suffering young couple have been forced on to the bare bones of a rough-and-tumble existence, down to a communications team, security detachment, domestic staff of nannies and cooks and housekeepers and what have you. Harry and Meghan — just two ordinary kids doing it tough.
And, Harry told us, he has to live on the inheritance from his mum, which when he got it was some tens of millions of dollars, no doubt shrewdly invested since. And there is allegedly a similar-sized inheritance from the Queen Mother. But they are a wonderfully unaffected couple. Theirs is not the artificial life of contrived gesture and showbiz nonsense. Look at their generous if tiny pen for chickens rescued from battery farms — these lucky poultry occupy surely the most expensive real estate of their species.
That Harry and Meghan succeeded in garnering overwhelming sympathy from the US public — and warm messages of support from the Joe Biden White House and the likes of Hillary Clinton — shows how perfectly they have mastered the dynamics of celebrity culture.
There is a serious dimension to this. Celebrity dynamics now dominate Western culture, and increasingly Western politics, in new and increasingly destructive ways. Harry and Meghan deployed the two most lethal weapons of personal testimony — mental health and race. It goes without saying that if Meghan really felt suicidal she was entitled to proper medical and emotional help. She and Harry blame the palace for refusing it to her. But surely if Harry failed to summon medical assistance in a life-threatening situation for his wife, he is not quite as heroic as billed. Of course, it’s silly to invade the emotionalism of celebrity strip poker with either logic or facts.
The recent Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is “just another episode of the soap opera,” says The Australian’s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan. “The way that the dynamics of celebrity dominate everything in our public consciousness now is disturbing,” Mr Sheridan said. “Because it’s essentially the inverse of reality,” he told Sky News. Mr Sheridan’s comments come after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a series of bombshell claims during the recent tell-all interview. Discussing the fallout of the interview, Mr Sheridan said, “I don’t think it really hurts the Royal family”. “This kind of insane soap opera has been what the Royal Family has been doing for at least the last 50 or 60 years”.
Now they protect their privacy with tell-all television interviews. This one was watched at first cut by 60 million people. Their earning power in the US will now be stratospheric.
If, in her time as a royal, Meghan was truly exposed to racist sentiment, that too is completely, absolutely unacceptable. Racism is a profound human evil. It deserves to be called out and opposed wherever it exists. But identifying racism where it doesn’t really exist is corrosively damaging. The media criticism that seemed in their royal days to exercise Harry and Meghan the most had nothing to do with race. The couple famously preach the most oleaginous, moralistic version of opposition to global warming, yet took multiple private jets on numerous holidays. That’s a standard hypocrisy among celebrities.
How Meghan’s shocking claims stack up
In the wake of Meghan and Harry’s bombshell TV interview, some details are already being questioned.
Meghan’s view:The Palace went against protocol to deny her mixed-race son the title of prince and subsequent security.
What we know: Archie wasn’t entitled to become a prince at birth – but can take that title when his grandfather Charles takes the throne.Long-established Royal rules limit the title of prince and princess to the monarch’s children and grandchildren and those in the direct line of succession.But even with the title, taxpayer-funded security isn’t guaranteed – as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie can attest.
Nowhere To Turn
Meghan’s view: There was no support from the “institution” when Meghan struggled with her mental health and, in the end, Megxit was the only way she and Harry could protect themselves.Harry also struggled. “I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t prepared for that. I went to a very dark place as well,” he said of his wife’s plight.
What we know:Meghan’s revelations about feeling suicidal while pregnant were among the most shocking of the interview, especially as she said she was denied help when she explicitly asked for it.
Prince Harry has previously been candid about his own mental health, revealing Prince William convinced him to get counseling after he was “very close to a complete breakdown”. Harry, Meghan, William and Kate have all been vocal in campaigning for mental health support and work with charities in the field, so it has surprised some commentators that Harry and Meghan weren’t able to access the help needed directly if others failed to step up.
Meghan’s view:”Three days before our wedding, we got married … just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
What we know: There are some pretty strict rules around weddings, such as needing witnesses. The private ceremony would have been a wonderful way for the couple to celebrate their love and exchange personal vows before the televised extravaganza at Windsor Castle, but, as has since been acknowledged, it wasn’t legally binding.
Meghan’s view -Amid preparations for the real wedding, there was a clash with future sister-in-law Kate, and Meghan was left in tears. Kate apologised, but when a false narrative emerged in the media that it was Meghan who made Kate cry, the Firm failed to protect Meghan and correct it.
What we know: There are two very different sides to the story, and no one expects the Duchess of Cambridge to front the media about it any time soon, so it’s hard to know the exact truth.
However, the counterclaims keep coming. Reports in The Times have since claimed Meghan slammed the door in Kate’s face when she took flowers to the Sussexes’ home in an attempt to mend fences.
Meghan’s view: “When I joined that family, that was the last time I saw my passport, my driving licence, my keys – all of that gets turned over.”
What we know:Much of Meghan’s interview detailed how she felt both trapped and unsupported in her new role, and having official documents taken away would only highlight her loss of agency.On a practical level, we know many royals happily drive themselves around – Prince Philip only stopped in 2019, aged 97, after a headline-making crash.The Australian also notes Meghan went overseas regularly “including to her ostentatious baby shower in New York”.
Meghan’s view: She hadn’t googled Harry or his family before they got together and was totally taken aback by Royal protocol, such as having to curtsy to the Queen even in a family meeting behind closed doors.
What we know:Previous reports from the favourable biography Finding Freedom, would suggest both Harry and Meghan were a bit more clued up about each other before they first met. Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote: “Naturally, both participants in this blind date did their homework with a thorough Google search. Harry, who scoped out Meghan on social media, was interested.”
Less convincingly, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha has suggested a famous photo of a teenage Meghan outside Buckingham Palace indicates a stronger interest in the royal family than she cares to admit.
Pointing it out, no matter how gracelessly, is scarcely racism. Similarly, Meghan dropped the “bombshell” that she didn’t make Kate cry over the flower girls’ dresses, but Kate made her cry. And the palace would not correct the record. Plainly, this is a shocking assault on human rights, and surely it should be referred to the International Criminal Court, but it’s not necessarily racist.
Meghan strongly implied young Archie didn’t get to be a prince at birth because he is of mixed race. This is preposterous but important because it sustains the allegation of racism. The convention is that for grandchildren of the monarch, only the direct heir’s children are princes and princesses at birth. The cousins become princes and princesses when granddad, in this case Charles, gets the throne. Nor does Scotland Yard’s police protection depend on having a title — Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie don’t have Scotland Yard police protection despite being princesses.
The Queen and monarchy will outlive ‘the cult of Meghan’
Queen and the monarchy she leads will outlast the shallow celebrity “cult” surrounding Meghan Markle, according to Fox News contributor, Mark Steyn. Buckingham Palace has issued a statement in response to the Prince Harry and Meghan interview, saying race issues it brought up are “concerning” and “will be addressed”. Following the explosive Oprah Winfrey interview airing in full on UK television last night, the statement on behalf of the Queen said: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. Pressure had been mounting on the Palace to respond to accusations of racism in the Royal Family following the programme, which was first broadcast in the US on Sunday night
All this is a matter of supreme indifference to any sensible human being, important only because Harry and Meghan used it to make the charge that British society generally is racist. And that is the nub of celebrity’s increasing assault on Western societies.
Harry and Meghan also said that some senior royal questioned how dark Archie’s skin would be. This seems so grotesque as to be even beyond the normal tone-deaf nuttiness of British royals. Not only that, it’s inconsistent with everything else that happened. Meghan was lavishly welcomed by the whole royal establishment. Her wedding could not have been grander. She was the first royal divorcee given a full church wedding. She was welcomed to holidays with the royals well before her marriage.
The Queen, in her response to the interview, noted that “recollections may vary”, which seems a polite way of casting doubt on the context of this story. It might be as harmless as someone saying to Harry: I hope your baby resembles your wife and not you. Or it might be something worse.
This is all in many ways meaningless falderol. And I have no desire to defend the royal family, apart from the Queen herself, the only member who always behaves with dignity and discipline. But as one member of the British public said in a vox pop: “They (Harry and Meghan) are not having a shot at the Queen, they’re having a shot at my country.”
Britain surely has its faults. As an Australian insanely proud of my Irish heritage I can enumerate these at length. But there would hardly be a society anywhere in the world less racist than contemporary Britain. Racial inter-marriage rates are very high, the government is ethnically diverse, the mayor of London is a Muslim, and so on. Show me a notably less racist society.
But the dynamics of celebrity have now embraced the truly toxic doctrine that all Western societies, especially the US and Britain, are irredeemably racist.
So Harry and Meghan, against all expectations, have actually done something politically significant, and wholly destructive: they’ve helped turn celebrity culture against the Western project.
Here are my earlier articles:
This comment from the Irish journalist Melanie McDonagh was insightful.“Really, it was apt that the couple bared their inmost selves to Oprah Winfrey, the woman who, like some Mies Van Der Rohe building, turns people’s insides out and privileges inner feelings over objective truth. Meghan was reflecting Oprah’s philosophy back to the satisfaction of them both. She and Harry… what a pair.”