The actor and writer Nick Pegg tweeted this picture today with the comment “I’m no royalist, but I’m pretty sure that from the moment society did this to him, any right to lecture him about ‘service’ was forfeited forever.” He certainly spoke for me when he wrote that. Did he speak for you?
The photograph was taken in 1997 following the death of his mother Princess Diana. His mother, you may recall, died in a car crash in Paris when the vehicle she was in was being chased by media vultures, AKA the Paparazzi. In the days and weeks that followed, led by tabloid hysteria, the country started to go mad. Diana, was recently vilified by the very same journalists (I use the word inadvisedly) for being permanently on holiday and neglecting her sons, was turned into the People’s Princess. Men and women, who had never met her, wept openly in the streets. It was a strange and disturbing phenomena. And as the country lost its collective marbles, something happened that made things even worse.
The gutter press led an attack on the royal family, as if to say they weren’t grieving enough, certainly not in public. In truth, despite their bizarre royal existence, they were just another family in mourning, staying out of the limelight. The red tops concluded that given the levels of public grief, the royals needed to be sent out onto the streets to satisfy the public mood.
In the days before her funeral, the royals were sent out to meet weeping crowds on the streets of London. Harry was 12 years old, his brother William 15. Then, on the day of Diana’s funeral, Harry and his brother were told to walk behind her coffin. It was cruelty of a kind I had never seen. It was Britain at its very worst. And it was all our fault because we were buying the newspapers which fanned the flames of hysteria.
Today, the very same newspapers are attacking Prince Harry and especially his wife Meghan Markle because they want to live their lives away from the dysfunctional and make-believe world of inherited royalty. Indeed, the Hate Mail attacks Harry and Meghan for having no respect. Every time you think the red tops can’t go any lower, they manage it with ease.
Harry suffered from mental health problems following the death of his mother. Tell me someone who wouldn’t have given the same circumstances? Your mother dies in an horrific car crash, you are then told to go on a public walkabout to comfort members of the public who have lost their minds and then you are told to march behind your mother’s coffin with the entire world watching you. You are 12 years old. This, to so many people in 1997, was completely normal.
To the red top newspapers, Meghan Markle has committed terrible sins. She is a strong, intelligent, independent, modern woman and, worst of all for the gutter press, she is black. In short, she is not the stereotypical public-facing woman demanded by the press. It is misogyny and racism writ large.
Nick Pegg is right. After what this country did to Harry, we have no right to lecture him on ‘service’ or anything else. If you agree with him, then why not stop buying the tabloid filth that poisons society? if you keep buying it, you just encourage them.