And what happens when the magic wears off?
The title of this post is not meant to be rhetorical. Look, I haven’t actually watched any of the pabulum produced by the Sussexes under their Netflix deal. There are people who are paid to do that, and who therefore cannot complain about the nausea they experience as a consequence. So my views on Harry and Megan’s televisual offerings are based almost entirely on reading the reviews these people write.
So far as I can gather, though, they amount to a protracted cry, simultaneously, for attention, and to be left alone to live their lives in the sort of privacy we ordinary people take for granted. The grist to this mill appears to be that staple of contemporary American celebrity – grievance. Apparently the Windsor establishment, and large parts of the British press, have rejected and ostracised Megan, not because she is a whiny, grasping, mendacious C-lister, but because they cannot stomach the fact that she is of part negro descent.
Now, as Harry’s much-loved grandmother politely observed, ‘recollections may differ’, and mine certainly does. I happened to be in England when the engagement was announced, and my recollection was that the press reacted to the prospect of the House of Windsor getting a lick of tar by performing rhetorical cartwheels of glee. As far as the future in-laws are concerned, the only account I have read that they were not similarly overjoyed is that of the Sussexes themselves. Sure, Meghan might not have looked particularly African, but they were prepared to take her at her word, and be grateful for whatever they could get.
In support of her claim to have been deprecated on racial grounds, the Duchess claims that some (unnamed) member of the Firm was heard speculating on the likely colour of her firstborn. But, even if, unlike her story about the prenuptial nuptials, or the weird story about the Lion King premier, this is true – so what? The duchess’ own African heritage is far from obvious, and in any case, mixed marriages everywhere have similar conversations about which of them the expected child will ‘take after’. Unless the speculation was accompanied by a remark to the effect that if the child were too obviously a scion of the Dark Continent, it would be a blot on the Windsor escutcheon, it seems to be a perfectly innocuous line of enquiry.
One could go on ad infinitum detailing the ways in which the Sussexes’ recollections differ from those of the rest of us, condemned as we are to living down here on boring old Planet Earth. I’ll leave that to those who, as I say, are paid to wade through their ordure. But the thing that’s got me scratching my head, is this; for which audience are the Sussexes – and Netflix – playing this charade?
To the extent that it is an attempt to capture the sympathy of the British, it seems already to be a busted flush, with a recent Yougov poll suggesting that the more the British public see of the pair, the less they like them.
But perhaps the Sussexes, and Netflix, are unconcerned by their fall from British favour? Perhaps they consider their boats already burned, and that their future popularity – and prosperity – is secure in America? Undoubtedly, the American public, as well as being vast, is less inclined to be sceptical about the claims to victimhood of a mega-rich couple and, paradoxically for the citizenry of a republic, readier than its British counterpart to be enchanted by royalty.
But that’s the kicker, isn’t it? The Sussexes’ schtick depends on their status as transgressive royals, sticking it to the stodgy old House of Windsor. No royalty, though, and no transgressing, and they’re just another pair of rather dim millennials. And the more they transgress, the more they try the patience of the Windsor Firm, the less royal they are likely to become, until eventually the fickle mouse of even the most slack-jawed, goggle-eyed American spots something more interesting, and clicks elsewhere. And when that happens – when Meghan is no more a real duchess than Colonel Sanders is a real colonel, does anyone really think she will emulate her predecessor, the Duchess of Windsor, and stand by her man?
Call me a stony-hearted sceptic, but I don’t think that’s her style. Poor Harry.
A belated New Year’s greeting to all Harrumpfers.