Melanie McDonagh

The Sussexes’ complete lack of self-awareness

The Sussexes' complete lack of self-awareness
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There’s no stopping the Sussexes, is there? Right after they get up everyone’s nose by saying their son’s christening is out of bounds, they’ve gone and told us all to save the planet. On Instagram, obviously. And to help us do it, they posted images of penguins, a sea turtle and a little child holding a placard saying You’re Never Too Small to Make a Difference. They want us to look at 15 different accounts, from – yep – Greta Thunberg to Leonardo diCaprio’s climate change foundation and Elephants Without Borders. And then change our ways.

That’s right. The Sussexes. The Duchess, who shared Amal Clooney’s private jet to get to her baby shower in the US – the one that cost £350,000 all told. The couple who fly by private plane whenever it suits and did a substantial amount to contribute to the doubling of the Royal family’s carbon footprint last year. Those Sussexes.

Sagely, Prince Harry observed, 'with nearly 7.7 billion people inhabiting this Earth, every choice, every action makes a difference.' Oh really? But then this, for the royal couple, is July and July is Environment Month, when they’re going to badger us about emissions and plastic, as opposed to May, which was Mental Health awareness month. Did you feel better after that? Did anyone?

Meanwhile, down here where the air is a little thicker, people are still resentful about the possibility of spending £600,000 next year on the couple’s home improvement bill. On top of the £2.5 million for the last financial year. Even the Duchess’s groupies – and they include most of the commentariat – found that hard to swallow.

But we still haven’t got the hang of the Duchess, which is that she’s American, and in the US, when people make it, they show it by spending lots of money. Conspicuous consumption is simply what you do – that baby shower was a case in point. Usually it’s allied with very public philanthropy, and for those of a liberal persuasion, the philanthropy is liberal too – preferably of the raising awareness sort as opposed to the merely practical, like helping the rehabilitation of prisoners or something. But where that culture comes into collision with the norms over here is when much – not all – of the money being conspicuously consumed is from the taxpayer, viz, those very much less fortunate than the Sussexes. Showing how much they care isn’t a substitute for a tincture of self-awareness about these realities. Sara Latham, who worked for the Clintons and who was brought on board to handle the Sussexes’ PR a few months back, doesn’t seem to have done them much good, does she? Though you can’t blame her for the ineffable self-regard of the pair.

And after we’ve been edified by the couple for a whole month about the environment, and they’ve kept baby Archie from prying eyes during his baptism – which doesn’t have to be public, but would be nice if it were, on account of it being a Christian sacrament – what then? Will they carry on surfacing erratically on Instagram and at congenial public events? And what will August bring? Female empowerment month, maybe? Can you wait?