In this column seven days ago I suggested the Meghan and Harry interview with their chum Oprah would more than likely turn out to be nothing more than a cosy chat among friends about their new life in the sun. What’s more, I hazarded a guess that the clips released to whet our appetite were probably as dramatic as it would get.
Well, forget that. For two hours I sat with my mouth open, not quite believing what I was hearing. But just because something is so shocking it appears unbelievable does not necessarily mean it’s untrue. And when someone, whoever they are, talks about being suicidal then that is the time to back off, pipe down and not add to their problems. And Harry and Meghan quite clearly have problems.
It was two hours of uncomfortable viewing. You don’t need me to go through it all again. There were shocking things said. But to effectively call Meghan a liar, not once but on several occasions on national television, in my view does nothing more than prove her right when she says she has been treated differently and often unfairly.
Let us be honest, it was Harry who confirmed his wife came to him and said she didn’t want to live. He told us he didn’t know what to do and who to turn to. It was he who relayed the comments that someone in the Royal family was ‘concerned’ as to how ‘dark’ their child might be.
That was said to Harry. Then he told his wife. Yet his wife is the liar? And what’s more, according to Piers Morgan it was Meghan who had “spray gunned his whole family” in the interview. Well, from where I was sitting it was both of them.
The issues of racism and mental health are serious. Things said to one person might not trigger the same emotions in another. That does not mean they are not real. And it doesn’t make saying it right, even if it was never meant to hurt. But as I say I won’t be drawn on who said what to whom and the effect it had on those it was said to, because we don’t know. We may never know. And it is up the Queen now to sort out the family rift quietly and in private. It is their hurt. And only they can heal it.
No, what I am saddened about is this whole sorry tale has turned into a debate about Piers Morgan. And I am sorry but the world has gone mad when a programme purporting to report the news becomes the news. Where Piers Morgan goes next might be good gossip but it’s the least important issue to be debated.
The headlines about his walkout on air and subsequent decision to quit has done nothing but pour fuel on a fire that was already raging. What is important here is the Royal family facing a potential crisis, not the headlines effectively saying Meghan had cost him his job. Piers Morgan cost himself his job, nobody else. It was his decision to go rather than apologise.
Meghan complains that his rant that he doesn’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth does harm to others experiencing suicidal thoughts. That is her right. It was her that was being talked about.
Let me make the biggest understatement of all. Piers Morgan, as my mum would say, is a man who likes the sound of his own voice. You could argue that is what he is being paid to do. But what he doesn’t like is when people don’t agree with him, as weatherman Alex Beresford found out this week, leading to ridiculous campaigns under the hashtag ‘sack the weatherman’.
But how brave it was to tackle the more senior presenter head on. As Alex said, just because they are on the same side does not mean they have to agree. The whole point of having a debate is listening to both sides of the argument, unless, of course, you are Piers Morgan. And then you storm out of the studio like a big baby.
I do not believe Piers Morgan is a racist. I do believe in holding those in authority to account. I also believe passionately about freedom of speech which he says is the reason he fell on his sword.
Well, isn’t that exactly what Meghan and Harry have just exercised?
I happen to think, as I said last week, that the whole Oprah Winfrey interview was a huge mistake. But they have the right to do it. And if that great holder of British values Piers Morgan believes it was “sanctimonious guff” so be it. But people also have the right to disagree with him. That is at the heart of free speech. And they also have the right to be heard and not drowned out by a man who believes it is his way or the highway.
Piers Morgan will get another job. And probably another after that. Harry and Meghan will never get another family. And that is what is so very sad here. The Queen has said she will reach out to them both, that they will always be much loved. And perhaps that will be enough. But serious allegations have been made and we have to trust that they will be investigated thoroughly and not swept under the Persian carpets of Buck House.
Fortunately, I do trust the Queen. I think she is a wise woman who will want to resolve this latest crisis as much for the love of her family as the future of the monarchy.
In the meantime let us leave her to do what she does best and pour quiet calm on troubled waters. Too much has been said already. And though we as journalists like to believe our opinion counts, in truth all opinions count. And it is our job to reflect that.
And that does not include calling someone “Princess Pinocchio”, just because she once “ghosted” you on her way to the Palace.