I WANTED to like her, I really did. When Meghan Markle climbed out of that vintage wedding car in Windsor last May and walked into St George’s Chapel on her own, in the face of the entire world and in front of the massed ranks of the Royal Family, I had to salute her chutzpah and self-confidence.
Fast forward a year and the woman is really beginning to grate. Not only has she masterminded a renovation plan for her new Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, which has cost the taxpayer an eye-watering £2.4m, but she has clearly micro-managed the debut of her son, Archie Harrison, seventh in line to the throne. It is not for us to speculate as to the nature of her behind-closed-doors relationship with her husband Prince Harry – a wise person once said to me that no-one really knows what is going on in a marriage.
Yet something in me suspects that the Prince’s own bitterness towards the media – which must surely stem from memories of his late mother, the Princess of Wales – will not be eased in partnership with a former actress who is well-versed in the art of creating and manipulating an image.
It is the sense of entitlement – and now, more seriously, the hypocrisy – which is getting out of hand. I promise you faithfully that this is not sour grapes or professional jealousy, but the news that the Duchess of Sussex is “in talks” to write a column for Vogue magazine has really put the tin lid on it, as we say in South Yorkshire.
Yes, I know. I write a column too. And I take it very seriously, twice a week, every week. And I write lots of other things as well – articles, interviews, promotional materials for businesses and all kinds of stuff, day-in, day-out. Journalism pays my bills. It’s not a little side-number that I do in between nail appointments and interviewing nannies.
I’ve been earning my living this way for 30 years now, this very week as it happens. In fact, in an interesting little coincidence, when I went to London in 1989 as a work experience girl, one of the very first publications I pitched up at was Vogue itself where I spent an interesting four days helping to sort out the fashion cupboard.
Throughout my subsequent career in both magazines and newspapers, I’ve learned to have respect for all kinds of journalists; brave war correspondents, fearless investigative reporters who undercover wrongdoing, sensitive interviewers who help traumatised individuals tell their stories and yes, the hugely-creative editors and writers who put together fashion magazines month after month, constantly striving to engage, entertain and influence their highly-demanding readers.
And if one thing unites us all, it is a healthy distrust of celebrity opportunists who use the media for their own ends.
This idea that the next sensible step for the Duchess of Sussex would be to not only appear in a photo-shoot and interview to promote “her philanthropic work” but to consider penning her thoughts every month is risible.
Yes, we might be interested, if she was doing interesting things to share with us. But as yet, what does this philanthropy really amount to, apart from stirring a pot of soup at Grenfell and writing ‘‘you are loved’’ on bananas for sex-workers in Bristol? She has a way to go before she turns into the House of Windsor’s very own Amal Clooney, her close friend and the wife of film-star George, mother of twins and a respected international human rights lawyer.
And it’s also hypocritical. Can this really be the same woman who refused, in concordance with her husband presumably, to reveal details of where her son was born – and then baby Archie’s godparents following the baby’s christening last weekend?
And can this really be the same woman whose protection officer is apprehending tennis fans at Wimbledon and warning them not to take photographs of the Duchess because she is there “in a private capacity”.
This particular example of control-freakery has backfired in spectacular fashion anyway. One told-off tennis fan, Sally Jones, has defended herself by admitting to newspapers that she wasn’t trying to get a snap of Meghan at all, but champ Serena Williams. Ms Jones also said that the bodyguard appeared “quite embarrassed” by his task.
No wonder. We could debate how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex should conduct themselves all day but one thing is clear. While every member of the Royal Family has the right to go about their business without being harassed, this obsession with protecting privacy sits ill with the decision to use a major global magazine for self-promotion.
The rules might not be written in a constitution and they certainly bend with the times, but the Royal Family has values which have enabled its survival. It is why the Queen and the House of Windsor is so respected. The latest Duchess to join their ranks would do well to remember that.