In the second half of the BBC2 documentary “The Princes and the Press,” the toxicity that Meghan Markle brought after entering the royal fold was on fully display. Though the documentary leaned more towards the pro-Sussex, anti-monarchy camp, it unintentionally revealed how Meghan and Prince Harry were solely responsible for the spiral of negative stories that they experienced.
As broadcaster Trevor Phillips so poignantly said, “In return for the fairy tale, you have to give the people outside the castle something, or they just decided that they didn’t want to play the game. The point at which you decide you don’t want to play the game, don’t expect people to play by the rules.”
Harry and Meghan didn’t want to play by the rules, and thus ended up becoming the perpetrators of their own demise.
When it comes to royals and the press, they work somewhat in tandem together. The royals want positive press coverage, so they try the best they can to appease the media by allowing them carefully choreographed glimpses into their lives. It’s been like this for centuries really, though a bad report was more likely to result in a reporter losing their head.
Celebrities do this as well, managing access while trying the best that they can to keep certain things private.
From the jump, Harry and Meghan took a very different approach and paid the price.
When it came out that Harry was dating Meghan, within a week Harry had released a scathing letter reprimanding the press and the public for harassing his new girlfriend, though in nearly every photograph Meghan was clearly loving the attention. After all, she did try to allude to her new British love multiple times on Instagram by wearing the same bracelet as Harry.
Now that she’s married to him, the matching and likely cheap African jewelry she seemingly so proudly displayed while sipping a cup of tea was replaced with Cartier and diamond bracelets. Once she got the man, she didn’t seem to feel the need to be matchy, matchy with him anymore.
The press attention then turned mostly positive throughout their courtship and engagement, but it took a decisively negative turn in the fall of 2018, just six months after their marriage, after it was revealed that Meghan made Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge cry during a bridesmaid fitting.
Meghan tried to reverse the narrative in her interview with Oprah a couple years later in March 2020, but no one was really buying it.
After that point, most of the stories became decisively negative.
Rachel Johnson, a columnist and broadcaster, shared in the BBC2 documentary, “When I did write positively about Meghan, which I did, it got no reaction. Nobody wanted to read it.”
So, what happened first? Did the press just turn negative as part of a personal vendetta or was Meghan her own catalyst for her misfortune?
Well, it seems like there was likely no going back after the fiasco surrounding the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
The couple famously told the world Meghan was in labor, after she had already given birth, and also refused to release details regarding the hospital he was born in or the medical staff that assisted, which continues fuels rumors that he was born via a surrogate. This is both a break in royal protocol, and, as royal reporter Richard Palmer seemed to share with a tinge of sadness, “They deliberately went out of their way to make the British media look stupid.”
Though there were other negative stories that came out regarding the expenditures to fix up Frogmore Cottage and Meghan’s constant clutching of her baby bump, which was both true and incredibly attention seeking, it seems like the birth of Archie signaled the end of a positive relationship that the couple could have had with the press.
And, as the Cambridges have demonstrated, it is quite easy.
Pose for pictures, share some thoughts on their latest outings and represent their charities. Being a royal is invasive when it comes to privacy, but most are able to make it work.
However, if Megxit and California were always Meghan’s end goal, as has been broadly speculated, did the former actress fuel her own negative press so she could become a victim in the press.
That’s likely the case.
Harry has obviously been incredibly wounded by his mother’s death, and never properly dealt with the impact of her loss. Meghan exploited that, playing up the hateful press narrative to convince her husband that they had to escape in order to survive.
At his heart, the Duke of Sussex is a protector and seemed to easily fall sway to Meghan’s tune.
“The point is, Kate just does not put a foot wrong. When you look like that and behave as she does, and she seems very accepting of the constraints of her role, she’s going to get a very easy ride and she does,” Johnson said in the documentary.
That’s so utterly true. Catherine knows the constraints of her role and plays within them and generally gets glowing press as a result. She’s been in the spotlight for about two decades and has basically never set her foot wrong as she prepares to support her husband as the further Queen of England.
Meghan seemed to come into the royal family, guns blazing as it were, as a stereotypical American demanding that everyone conform to her. The palace said no, and as the negative stories grew the former actress knew she could pull on her husband’s mother wound and convince him to leave everything he knew behind so she could lead them into a new future that benefits her and no one else.
It’s sad. Harry and now separated from his family and his image will probably never recover after the divorce.