The irony of a lifelong supporter of a republic writing a column cheerleading for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is not lost on me. The thing is, I’ve never much liked bullies. Or bullying. And there has been a lot of that directed at the Sussexes. But now, in full view of the watching nation, Harry and Meghan have reunited with Wills and Kate to pay their respects to their grandmother at Balmoral. Perhaps we can learn something from this display of familial solidarity – and finally leave them alone?
The message from the English right when it comes to the Queen is: “Play nice or else you’ll get a brick through your window. However, if you want to let off a little steam, feel free to unload on Harry and Meghan. Throw as many stones as you want. Tip as much bile as you can find.”
And my, how they’ve done that. A tweet from Petronella Wyatt, the journalist, broadcaster and former paramour of Boris Johnson, summed it up: “May God forgive Harry and Meghan for causing the Queen so much pain, for I never shall.” Really, Ms Wyatt? Please. They need your forgiveness about as much as they need subscriptions to the tabloids that use them to sell copies.
Seriously, what have they ever done beyond escaping that kind of ugliness in favour of the celeb life in California? For that cardinal sin, they’re depicted as the Cersei Lannister and Joffrey Baratheon of “The Firm”. Never is there the slightest allowance made for the fact that Harry lost his mother at a young age. Never is it remembered that instead of being allowed to grieve in private, Harry was thrust into the spotlight, suited and booted and trotted out to perform for the crowds and the world’s media.
Just take a look at pictures from the time. They’re actually quite painful to see. If you possess a shred of empathy, they will make you sad (and maybe also angry) at the way he was forced into that position.
Let us not forget that he lived in a house full of tension before that, too. Take it from me, I know what it’s like living through a collapsing marriage at a young age. It leaves scars. They run deep. Goodness only knows what living through a collapsing royal marriage in the full glare of the public eye was like.
Then Harry falls in love and marries, according to certain sections of the media, the wrong woman – who herself had to take some licks growing up.
Shall we mention the R word – racism – now? Yes, let’s. The criticism Harry and Meghan receive is always wrapped up in faux concern for the Queen. They’ve hurt the sovereign by slinging their hook and now they’re making a podcast and spending days at the beach with their kids or having dinners at fancy eateries with celebs. How dare they.
The hard truth, of course, is that much of this criticism boils down to the fact Meghan is mixed race. That would always make her fair game to certain people, no matter what she did. But then she dared to fall in love with a royal prince, and things got ugly fast. Burn her! She’s a witch!
Those who try to deny the role that Meghan’s race plays in all this are lying.
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California? Hell, if it had been me I’d have found an island in the middle of the Pacific, built a house and covered the roof in a banner displaying the classically British two-finger salute.
Derrick Johnson, the CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in sending his obligatory condolences, singled out the couple “who have become dear friends and allies in our fight for a more just future”.
Harry and Meghan have always been my favourite members of the royal family, as much because of their staunch haters as for anything they have or haven’t done. They have all the right enemies. They are despised by all the worst people.
Derrick Johnson’s statement indicates they have some of the right friends too, quite apart from the fact that common decency says they deserve our condolences as much as any other royal. Harry has lost his grandmother. That is a painful event. He and his wife have my sympathy.