Who or what drove Harry and Meghan to leave the royal bosom for the land of slebs on the other side of the Atlantic? That’s one of the central questions of a new two-part documentary, The Princes and the Press, that aired on the BBC last night.
The obvious suspect is the dreaded British media — barging, intrusive, xenophobic — riddled with prejudice, we’re told, against a mixed-race American in the monarchy. But the jostling between royal households seems equally responsible. After the early days of Hazza and Megz, a clear jealousy from some of William and Kate’s people began to seep into the media. The younger brother and his American wife were suddenly the darlings of the British press. ‘Work-shy William’ and ‘waity Katie’ were left looking like yesterday’s royals.
Today, Kate and Wills are the PR golden couple while it’s all gone wrong for Harry and Meghan. What happened? Like all media darlings, eventually less favourable coverage began to surface (not least from Meghan’s father). There were allegations that she was difficult to deal with, that courtiers were unhappy and leaving in droves — something that her lawyer, given specific permission to speak to the BBC, expressly denied. Then there was so-called tiara-gate, where Meghan was supposedly refused royal jewellery, an incident that resulted in either her or her royal fiance being marched in before the Queen. It is worth noting too, that much of this gossip initially went unreported. Dan Wootton, then of the Sun, explained that it took a good six months before these whispers appeared in the press. A lifetime in news cycles. There was clearly a reticence to go after the new royal pair. But eventually a narrative began to take hold of a demanding couple, insisting on American-style service from a British institution.
Frustrating, no doubt, but these kinds of stories happen in royal land.