Joanna Williams

Is Harry and Meghan’s Time profile a parody?

Is Harry and Meghan's Time profile a parody?
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Of course the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021. And of course their listing, which makes the publication’s front cover, is accompanied by a lavish citation and photos of the pair put together by Hollywood A-list stylists. Did we really expect anything less?

Time truly has it all. First there are the photos. The couple are groomed beyond the imagining of mere mortals, their clothes carefully co-ordinated. They are artistically positioned in order to comprise both a beautiful image and a political statement. Yes, indeed! These are no ordinary celebrity snaps. They are Harry and Meghan’s meaningful portraits.

The cover shot symbolises equality. So Harry is kitted out in black, while Meghan dons a white trouser suit. Harry is in the background, Meghan to the fore. Harry perches awkwardly on a ledge so they appear to be the same height, his hand resting supportively on her shoulder. They’re equals, geddit? Most married couples take their equality for granted. But for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex this, apparently, counts as making a brave statement. And so they both stare fearlessly into the camera.

Other pictures show them wearing matching bottle green, standing in front of an open window or under a tree. The message now is ‘equals who are at one with nature’ – while still able to throw a power pose. Honestly, it’s such a delicious mash-up of absolutely everything we have come to associate with Harry and Meghan it’s almost possible to imagine they are not in on the joke.

But no. Their lack of self-awareness holds strong. How else to explain the citation – which you would expect, at the very least, for them to have been given a prior glance at. Chef José Andrés is credited with coming up with the words. And oh what words they are! We kick off with reminders of Harry’s service in Afghanistan but not, oddly, Meghan’s role in US TV drama Suits. Instead we’re reminded, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, ‘has long been an active humanitarian and a powerful advocate for women and girls’.

So far, so sort-of factual. But we’re soon spinning off into hyperbole. Harry and Meghan, we are told, ‘turn compassion into boots on the ground’. They ‘give voice to the voiceless’, ‘mental-health support to Black women and girls’ and feed ‘those affected by natural disasters’. Okay so maybe not with five loaves and two fishes, but ‘hand in hand with nonprofit partners’. In short, ‘They run toward the struggle.’

Or should that be fly? They fly toward the struggle, right? And the ‘struggle’ is a charity polo match in Aspen and the flight is a £45million private jet. The ‘voiceless’ now being given a hearing can surely only refer to the Duke and Duchess themselves: certainly it’s the case that since leaving the royal family they rarely miss an opportunity to remain silent. And the ‘springing into action’ must mean firing off a quick text to Netflix or Oprah, or, more likely, their lawyers.

The Time profile is so dripping in Harry and Meghan cliche it could be mistaken for parody. The uber-privileged couple representing ‘equality’. The private jet loving Prince symbolising ‘nature’. The attention-grabbing, self-obsessed Duke and Duchess espousing self-sacrifice. What’s bizarre is that Time magazine takes this stuff seriously enough to print.

But maybe Time has it right, after all. The Duke and Duchess are certainly influential and very 2021 indeed. They epitomise today’s woke elite: fantastically wealthy and privileged yet comfortable preaching to the masses about the importance of sacrifice and compassion. Like the Californian celeb-set they have bought into, they co-opt the language of political struggle to direct attention to their own moral superiority over the plebs.

It’s no coincidence that the issues Harry and Meghan choose to highlight – race, gender, mental health, the environment – can all sit comfortably alongside immense privilege. To the woke elite, social class and wealth inequalities are barely worth considering. If pushed, they shy away from talking about economic or political solutions – Heaven forbid! – but prefer discussing the need for yet more ‘compassion’. They’ll happily be photographed demonstrating equality, or make a speech via Zoom, but actually rescind the titles and inherited wealth, give up the private jet flights and the designer clothes? Not on your life. Charges of hypocrisy never land on this thick-skinned group who seem to think genuine lifestyle change is reserved for the little people.

So perhaps Time magazine deserves praise for publishing such sycophancy. It offers us yet more hilarious insight into the bizarre world-view of the woke elite. Harry and Meghan’s loyal fans will no doubt lap it up. The rest of us, meanwhile, can enjoy a laugh at the oblivious duo’s expense.