There are two moments from ITV’s Harry & Meghan: An African Journey taking up most of the headlines today. The first is Prince Harry’s answer to host Tom Bradby’s question about whether or not it’s true that he and Prince William are not getting along. The second is Meghan Markle’s reveal that her British friends told her that the UK tabloids would “destroy your life”.
But first, let’s go back to Friday and William and Catherine’s final day of their Pakistan tour. That was the day that advance preview clips of Harry and Meghan’s documentary were released – and Meghan’s comments about how not many people had asked her if she was OK went viral with #WeLoveYouMeghan on social media. And then Robert Jobson reported in the Evening Standard that Will and Kate’s aides were pissed that the Sussexes cockblocked the Cambridges’ amazing tour coverage.
Robert Jobson, you’ll recall, is the royal reporter who wrote the Prince Charles biography that was released last year. Robert was given access to Charles for his book. He has relationships with Buckingham Palace courtiers and much of the gossip that’s been playing out over the last twelve months, that started about exactly a year ago, came from his reporting. Some of it is in the book – like about how William is “a little grand” and how Harry can be a hothead. A lot of it that wasn’t in the book ended up in the British tabloids, the Sun and the Daily Mail. Like the story about Meghan and the tiara and the rumour that Meghan made Kate cry. As I detailed in those posts from last year, the way it usually works is that much of what Robert Jobson would have been allowed to include in his book would have had to be cleared with the palace. The off-the-record sh-t that the palace can’t be directly connected with gets placed in other papers. The sourcing for a lot of this mess then comes directly from insiders, the viper courtiers who have their own agendas.
By the way, a quick aside about Robert Jobson, he was called out on Twitter last week for retweeting tweets made by racist anti-Meghan Markle accounts.
Then he claimed to be hacked:
Robert Jobson was caught retweeting pro-Megxit, racist, and anti-Meghan accounts yesterday before claiming to be "hacked." I am not surprised by his latest writing. Disgusting.— Anne Boleyn (@TudorChick1501) October 18, 2019
This is not journalism. #meghanmarkle https://t.co/Dc3ByLqk1X
Which brings us back to this weekend and royal sources telling Robert Jobson that:
“The content and timing of the clips have caused concern among senior royal and diplomatic advisers who fear it has “overshadowed” William and Kate’s “soft power” assignment on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following an invitation from the Pakistan government.
One senior figure said aides were “baffled and infuriated”, adding: “This move has certainly overshadowed the Pakistan visit and what has been achieved here during the last few days, as well as a lot of work by an awful lot of dedicated people here on the ground as well as back home for months.”
Why are royal sources, courtiers, insiders, talking to a journalist who’s allegedly been retweeting Meghan hate and, therefore, not exactly objective? And…
Did Prince William give permission to his staff to speak to Robert Jobson about how their team reacted to Harry and Meghan’s documentary? Or are the Cambridge courtiers acting on their own?
The reason this is relevant is because the Sussexes are at war with the British tabloids. But the tabloids are getting *some* of their reporting from royal staffers themselves. So even if Harry and Meghan take on the tabloids and win, there still remains the problem of what to do about the people working in the various royal households, clearly not on the same side.
With that in mind then, here’s what Harry said to Tom Bradby when asked, “There’s been a lot of talk in the press about rifts with your brother - how much of that is true?”
'As brothers you have good days, you have bad days'— ITV News (@itvnews) October 20, 2019
Prince Harry says the 'majority of stuff' written about his relationship with his brother William is 'created out of nothing' and adds: 'I love him dearly' #HarryAndMeghan https://t.co/GWs5KfuovM pic.twitter.com/bW7GVALZR6
That rueful chuckle off the top says it all. What he actually said was this:
“Part of this role and part of this job and this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, stuff happens but we’re brothers, well always be brothers and we’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I’ll always be there for him and he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy but I love him dearly and the majority of the stuff is created out of nothing but you know as brothers you have good days, you have bad days.”
It’s worth noting that no one is spending any time on Harry repeating, twice, that as brothers, he and William will always be there for each other and that he loves his brother dearly. Or that it’s actually relatable that your relationship with your family members – be it your parents or your siblings or your cousins or your children – is always dynamic.
No, most people are reading into this as confirmation that, indeed, William and Harry have, at best, grown apart, and at worst, are feuding, which has been speculated about for months now. If they are feuding though, was the speculation entirely accurate? The speculation was that William didn’t like Meghan or that Harry was mad at Will for not liking Meghan. Or that Meghan came between William and Harry, that bitch. It’s always the women!
That’s the most simplistic reading of the situation. Meghan obviously has something to do with it. But it’s more about support. When she said that not many people have asked her how she’s doing, if she was referring to members of the royal family, you’ll recall, back in the early days of William and Kate’s relationship, and William complaining about Kate being followed by the paparazzi too much, Harry backed his brother on that. And now? Is he getting the same backing from William when it’s Harry’s wife who’s the target? Because this is a little more serious than “my brother’s wife is annoying and she wanted to wear a tiara”. How serious?
Last month, the BBC had to apologise to Harry for “failing to warn the Duke of Sussex before broadcasting and publishing online an image from a neo-Nazi social media group that called him a “race traitor” and depicted the royal with a gun pointed at his head”.
“The image, published on BBC Online and broadcast on News at 10, was a stylised collage from an online post on a far-right platform, which also included blood splatter and a swastika, and was captioned: “See ya later race traitor. #racetraitor.”
It raised “serious security concerns” for Prince Harry and “caused his family great distress specifically while his wife was nearly five months pregnant”, a spokesperson for the duke told the Guardian.”
The fact that Prince Harry’s wife is biracial is, sadly and unfortunately and terrifyingly, a major concern. And Harry and Meghan’s issue with the British tabloids and their biases – headlines about her being “Straight Outta Compton” and her mother’s dreadlocks and how her ancestors were “cotton slaves”, articles that are STILL UP ON THEIR WEBSITE RIGHT NOW – incite this kind of hate, this kind of violence. So you would expect that your family, your brother, would be by your side, calling that sh-t out along with you, right? Right?
But Lainey, the royals’ approach has always been to ignore the tabloids, look away, turn the other cheek. Oh really? Because remember back in July of this year, July 2019, when there was a report that Princess Kate got Botox, Kensington Palace came out to deny the story? They issued a statement saying it was “categorically untrue”. So they’ll step up and protect the reputation of Kate’s natural-born skin but they won’t call out the racism against Meghan, their sister-in-law?
This is the angle that the British tabloids aren’t exploring: the hurt that Harry might be feeling over the fact that there are people out there calling him a “race traitor” and the dangerous consequences that could result, and his brother, who will be king, isn’t openly standing beside him in solidarity.
But, again, this is going to be the Sussexes’ challenge. In her interview with Tom Bradby, Meghan said that she “never thought it would be easy, but I thought it would be fair”:
'I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip'— ITV News (@itvnews) October 20, 2019
The Duchess of Sussex admits she's tried a coping mechanism to manage the pressures that come with marrying Prince Harry #HarryAndMeghan https://t.co/GWs5KfuovM pic.twitter.com/XctGTpk94l
Tom Bradby actually pushes back on this, saying that many would point to the Sussexes’ wealth and privilege and that maybe she’s complaining when other people have so much more to complain about than the tabloids. Her response – and I don’t think this clip has been as widely circulated as the one where she says her friends warned her not to get with Harry because of the tabloids:
'My British friend said to me 'I'm sure he's great but you shouldn't do it''— ITV News (@itvnews) October 20, 2019
The Duchess of Sussex reveals she was warned not to marry Prince Harry because 'British tabloids will destroy your life' #HarryAndMeghan https://t.co/GWs5KfuovM pic.twitter.com/SmUl3ofSnd
“If things are fair. That completely tracks for me when things are fair. If I did something wrong I’d be the first one to go oh my gosh, I’m so sorry I would never do that. But when people are saying things that are just untrue and they’ve been told that they’re untrue but they’re allowed to still say them I don’t know anybody in the world that would feel like that’s ok. And that’s different than just scrutiny. That’s ...what would you call that? It’s a different beast. I think the grass is always greener. You have no idea what it’s like. I know what it seems like it should be. (Shakes head) it’s a very different thing. That’s ok. The good thing is I’ve got my baby and I’ve got my Husband. And they’re the best.”
Fairness doesn’t just have to do with how the tabloids are treating Harry and Meghan one-on-one, it’s also how they’re treating her in comparison to their peers, other members of the royal family. Like I keep saying where the private jet thing is concerned, Harry and Meghan aren’t the only ones who fly private and encourage climate change awareness. William does too. As does Charles. Recently. And they’re not on the front page of the British tabloids every single day for two weeks about the issue. Had it been Harry and Meghan with a Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley problem, it would not have gone away as quickly as it did. And, please, if Meghan was the one larking about with a dead rapist pedophile, what would the coverage be? This is an issue of relativity.
But the tabloids are one thing. They’re going to court against the tabloids. The courtiers and the family politics are another thing entirely. Those are the people they can’t sue. Those are the people who know that Harry and Meghan are already battling the British tabloids, which they themselves have taken issue with in the past, and still feeding them information, selling the Sussexes out. So for all the criticism that Harry and Meghan shouldn’t be speaking out of turn about their family, why is it that the people who work with their family, and presumably represent the family, have been stabbing them in the back? And what are Harry and Meghan going to do about that?