Volume One of Netflix’s docuseries Harry & Meghan targets the British media, particularly the tabloid media in the UK, and the relationship between the royal institution and the royal rota, which is the press pool that covers the royal family. It’s a more detailed explanation of the “invisible contract” between the royal households and the tabloids that Prince Harry first referenced during his and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey last year.
In response, the “media outlets outraged over Meghan and Harry series run wall-to-wall coverage”. As The Guardian points out:
“Within two hours of the release of the first episodes, the top 12 stories on MailOnline were all about the couple, complete with pictures, gifs, and screengrabs. The Sun managed seven stories about the couple online within the first two hours.”
Needless to say, very little mention was made about the “invisible contract” or how racist their coverage of Meghan has been for years. That said, where the “invisible contract” is concerned, the bigger point here is why the monarchy would uphold it, why do they continue their soft co-sign of this kind of journalism. That will be the focus, likely, of volume two of Harry & Megan. Volume one ends just before Harry and Meghan’s wedding day. Volume two, presumably, will be about what happens afterwards, and that’ll be the big drama – what went down between the wedding and Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit royal life? That’s when the focus of the series, probably, will shift over to the royals themselves. We can talk about the volume two villain(s) next week when the episodes drop. The villain of volume one, however, is definitely the British media.
If you want an example of how irresponsible they’ve been in their coverage of the Sussexes, episode three provides an important one: Samantha Markle, Meghan’s half-sister. The British media have given a LOT of airtime to Samantha Markle, who has been claiming for years that she knows Meghan very well when, in fact, they did not have a relationship. There is so much evidence to support the fact that no meaningful connection between the two ever existed. And yet, so many of the British tabloids published and broadcasted basically anything that Samantha said, and much of it, naturally, was derogatory. Nothing was fact-checked, and if it was, the lack of credibility was not an issue – that’s probably what they wanted anyway. The more Samantha lied, the more they amplified those lies. And the more Samantha was encouraged to lie.
So much of what Samantha has said has shaped public opinion of Meghan, which means so much of what the public thinks of Meghan, via what they’ve read through the tabloids, comes from Samantha’s falsehoods, contributing to the foundation of anti-Sussex sentiment. At this point, these people are like their own QAnon.
But there’s a pretty big revelation about Samantha in Harry & Meghan, centering on a person who has NOT been reported on very much over the years: her biological daughter, Ashleigh. For all of Samantha’s screeching about Meghan abandoning and betraying her family, it turns out that she was never a part of her own daughter’s life. Ashleigh was raised by her paternal grandparents, she’s obviously been through some sh-t.
And yet, she and Meghan were close. It was Meghan who reached out to Ashleigh BEFORE she met Harry and the two developed a bond. They travelled together, they supported each other, Meghan was at Ashleigh’s wedding. But Ashleigh was not at Meghan’s.
Because of Samantha. Samantha was spreading so much bullsh-t leading up to the wedding, through the British tabloids, that royal advisors cautioned Meghan against inviting Ashleigh to the wedding because they thought it would be too messy to have to explain why Ashleigh was there but not her biological mother. That decision, it seems, has permanently altered Meghan and Ashleigh’s relationship.
Why was someone like Samantha, who lacked any credibility, given such a huge platform from which to spew so many lies? Think of the impact of all those lies, like the pizzagate conspiracists on Facebook – this was intentional and it was racially motivated.
Meghan says at one point in episode three that she believes that the tabloids desperately wanted the Black side of her family to be the mess so as to feed into racist stereotypes. But in Doria, her mother, all they got was someone “classy and quiet”. So instead they took the word of a white family member who is shady AF, who came out of the woodwork claiming to be a close relative, and gave her a megaphone without interrogating, at all, the integrity of her claims. The British tabloids here were agents of disinformation, and that disinformation has caused irreparable damage. Why, then, does the royal institution continue to align themselves with them? What does it say about the royal institution that they do? That’s coming up in volume two.