Harry and Meghan: History Repeating Itself?

Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah aired in the UK on Monday and was viewed by 12 million people. In the aftermath of its airing, Piers Morgan resigned and many media outlets have spoken in defence of their work and decried the couple. The couple candidly discussed Buckingham Palace, mental health and claimed that they received a lack of support from the family… or the institution… or is it the same thing? Meghan herself recognised it was difficult to separate the two, and Harry later confirmed this idea. In response, the Daily Mail released an article ‘fact checking’ the claims made by the couple: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9338421/Royal-revelations-test.html

Were the couple lying? Dare we have the right to accuse them of it? Why do people feel the need to so staunchly defend the royals? What’s the real difference between Meghan and Diana? Let’s have a think.

I will admit that I was surprised to think that Meghan had not even Googled Harry when she first met him. To debunk this, the Daily Mail quoted couples’ friends, and cited the recent book written about the Duke and Duchess, ‘Finding Freedom.’ Meghan’s maid of honour at her first wedding, Ninaki Priddy, asserted that Meghan was obsessed with the royal family, particularly Diana. Americans especially are interested in the royal family, so I assumed that she would have heard of them and recognised their status. Although Google may be able to give an idea of what being a working royal might be like, I doubt it could tell us what it is like day to day. Google would probably comment on a generalised notion of royal duties, but I doubt there is a comprehensive guide out there for people marrying into the royal family. There certainly was none for Diana, who noted that she ‘was thrown in the deep end,’ in one of the tapes Andrew Morton used to write her biography. Diana specifically here was referring to the Australia tour. Everyone was sympathetic to Diana about this issue, but it seems that Meghan has not been afforded the same sympathy. What is the difference? We do not see what goes on behind closed doors, as Diana’s story proved. We only learned about her experiences when she spoke out as Harry and Meghan are doing so now. Perhaps you would think that Meghan would have Googled Harry, but would it have really helped? Considering what Harry was saying in the interview, his experience in recent years has been as bleak as Meghan’s. It appears that even Harry did not fully realise what being in the royal family was like until now, or how ‘trapped’ he was inside it.

The couple also claim that they were wed secretly before the wedding. The Mail states that this is unlikely, but I cannot fathom what could be gained from the couple lying about this. The Mail says that in reality this just could have been an exchange of vows, not a legally recognised wedding. Perhaps this is enough for the couple, to them that counted as a wedding. Some say this was for publicity, but the couple have their Netflix deals, they were not paid for the interview. I can only think that this interview was agreed on because the couple wanted to tell their story.

Meghan claimed that she was ‘silenced’ by the royal family. The Mail cites evidence from royal insiders that the couple ‘called the shots’ when it came to publicity, but who are these royal insiders? Are they trustworthy? Why should we not trust in what the couple has to say? Diana too experienced similar treatment, her bulimia was overlooked by the family, and her decision to do the 1995 Panorama interview stemmed from her belief that a divorce from Charles would result in a gagging order. Sarah Ferguson also spoke out about eating disorders that she faced during her royal marriage, and she too faced personal criticism from the press. This idea of having a ‘stiff upper lip’ and not expressing ones feelings seems like an all too familiar narrative.

Issues surrounding Archie are both contentious and damning. If history dictates that Archie should not have a title, then fair enough, so be it. This is where facts and perception may get confused. It certainly looks bad, that the first royal baby of colour, will be the only one not to receive a title from an outsider perspective. This also links to Meghan’s treatment by the media. If you put a picture of the family together, the most noticeable difference is that Meghan is a woman of colour. Anything relating to Archie’s race, or colour, be it based on precedent or not, is bound to be inflammatory. If the couples remarks are indeed incorrect, then the palace should issue a statement to correct them. The Queen did step in in 2013 to issue a Letters Patent that ensured that George’s siblings received a title… could she not do the same for Archie? Why is she willing to bend the rules for them and not Archie? I am in no way saying that I believe that this was racially motivated, but if you ask people to look for a link, this is what they will come to – as it is the only difference between Meghan, Archie and the rest of the family.

The issue of Archie’s security strikes me personally as not an issue relating to the monarchy, but an issue relating to family. Archie is still Archie, and Prince Harry will forever be known as Prince Harry. The family will be forever hounded by the media. It appears that in their treatment of Harry and Meghan, the royal family subtracted the fact that they were family. Although people have cried out saying that Harry and Meghan should not have access to money from the taxpayer, and rightly so, surely the other royals would want to support Harry and Meghan in their move abroad? Yes, they wanted to be financially independent, but this does not happen overnight. Could no one have provided them with some money to settle? It does look uncaring on Charles’s part, especially in light of Harry’s remark that his father has stopped taking his calls. Following ‘The Crown,’ and all the history that has been dragged up by it, Charles has not fared well in recent months. Diana detailed Charles’s treatment of her in the biography, and if all are to be believed, it seems that some things are not changing. Harry is right in saying that Archie is still his grandson, Prince or not.

The Mail Online’s stance about Meghan’s requests for help being denied has been labelled as ‘difficult to verify.’ This is just a version of saying ‘we do not know,’ which is only a stone’s throw away from saying that Meghan is lying, as she is not being vindicated. This is insulting to her and others who have had mental health issues. Diana suffered the same treatment, but it appears that everyone’s compassion was then and does not exist now. The Mail even cites the fact that Harry did not know what to do about it, and so effectively blames him for his own wife’s poor mental health.

In terms of stories coming out, and protection from the media, from an outsider perspective it did not seem like the palace did not do much to stop the barrage of abuse Meghan was receiving. Parliament did discuss it, and Harry made a statement but no more was done. This again does not look good. The Mail labels this as ‘contested.’

I suppose viewers cannot really ever know the truth. It is Harry and Meghan’s word against someone else’s. What I will say is that, in my view, the Duke and Duchess did not come across bitter or vengeful in any way, and instead appeared sincere. There was no intense criticism of the character of individual members of the family but a mere description, of what they say, happened. Charles did probably come off the worst, but even then, Harry never made a comment on Charles’s character, just that Charles had stopped taking his calls, and that he felt let down. From an outsider perspective however, it does not look good, and based on what we know, looking at the experiences of Diana, Sarah Ferguson and Meghan, there are certainly common themes. This in itself is unsettling. It made me think of my own time working at Buckingham Palace, and although the situation was completely different, it seems that the harshness of the environment, and at times lack of sympathy, something that these three women described, does filter through to all levels.

What we all should remember is that these people are still people with feelings. They are still a family who fight and disagree with each other. No one is perfect, and no one is blameless, and even though people have come out in staunch defence of the royal family, solely because they are the royal family, they too are people who can, and I personally think have, made mistakes. I do not think people should take it so personally, especially when these people are not our own flesh and blood family… a hint to Piers Morgan, whose vendetta against Meghan seems childish and slightly obsessive. In terms of mistakes, and a totally different context, look at Prince Andrew.

Thanks for reading!

Published by harpalkhambay

I'm a third year English Literature and History student, and wanted a space to explore topics within those fields that interest me.

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