Harry and Meghan's big mistake: the Sussexes sold their souls to a company that puts selling stories before telling stories

Piers Morgan calls her Princess Pinnochio and him Prince Hypocrite, his rationale being, roughly, that Ms Markle and Mr Mountbatten-Windsor are not being absolutely sincere about their motivation when it comes to telling their story to US telly giants Netflix.

Paraphrasing slightly, at one point in their tell-all, expressing dismay, disappointment and seemingly sadness the Duke of Sussex tells the Netflix production crew - to whom he and his wife have, incidentally, sold photographs and stories for £90,000,000 - that he was astounded at what people will do - handing over private photographs and untold stories - when offered a fistful of dollars. A little self-awareness wouldn’t go amiss, here.

So far, so right Mr Morgan, then? Perhaps. I wanted to explore the hypocrisy thing more, not least because the trailers promoting the Netflix docu-series were immediately shown to be disingenuous, and that’s a problem for the Sussexes. Robert Jobson, a well-respected author and journalist singled out an image of a camera lens being trained on the couple with their backs to it, Meghan carrying baby Archie. It was used by the couple as so-called evidence of the harassment and intimidation they feel they have suffered at the hands of the Press. Mr Jobson added: “This photograph, used by Netflix and Harry and Meghan to suggest intrusion by the press is a complete travesty. It was taken from an accredited pool at Archbishop Tutu’s residence in Cape Town. Only three people were in the accredited position. Harry and Meghan agreed the position. I was there.” Busted. At least, on this occasion, for sure, there was no intrusion. No harassment. No intimidation. Only choreography and consent. It wasn’t the only image from the trailers that drew criticism owing to the manipulation of the truth. The question is, why? Why use images to illustrate your point that can, will and have so easily and quickly undermine you? If you are going to authentically articulate the pain and suffering you have been through - and I do not for a second doubt that Harry and Meghan have suffered - do so with honesty. Editorialising your trauma using fake evidence as much is just daft. All that has done is shown the world your courting - and profiteering from - the villains of your piece; it is, quite clearly, naive. Stupid, even. Desperate, perhaps?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I genuinely think the couple have, with this one at least, holed their own hull - as we say on the Yorkshire coast - by not paying more attention to detail. They must have countless examples of occasions where they were harassed and harangued. Why not use them? I was intrigued, and wanted to see what others thought.

First stop, a favourite of mine for sanity and clarity: James O’ Brien, LBC’s poster boy for thoughtful listeners. He asked Carly in Ascot, who told O’Brien that she was sick of hearing people talk about Harry and Meghan - yes, whilst talking to his 1.3m national radio listeners about Harry and Meghan - quite what it was that annoyed her about H&M. “Well, I just don’t get what all the fuss is about,” she offered, whilst insisting she was fed up of it. Her key question in relation to the ‘point of the documentary’ was: “What are they trying to achieve?” James quickly retorts: “They explained that last night. Imagine someone you have never met, Carly, publishing reams and reams, pages and pages of things about you and your loved ones, and the record contains their lies, their bile, embellishments and exaggerations. Imagine it was you. What would you do?” Flustered and doing her best against a man who has proven himself a formidable inquisitor, she added: “I just don’t get what all the fuss is about?” As is O’Brien’s style, he holds up a mirror to Carly and says: “Why are you so angry with them, Carly?” She doubled down on being sick of hearing people talking about it - yes, whilst talking about it on national radio - before O’ Brien signs off with: “You are the fuss, Carly.”

Intrigued at how others were seeing this play out, one comment from someone who has taught me more than most about tolerance and understanding is Benjamin Butterworth. More often than not he, a journalist and broadcaster, has helped me to analyse things more compassionately than I - a coal miner’s lad brought up with a no-nonsense approach to life - sometimes might. His view (commenting on Meghan’s mocking of Her Majesty the Queen’s customs - on this occasion the curtsy): “This is just nasty and unbecoming. Meghan looks like a school bully.”

Yikes. If that’s what Benjamin thinks then as I headed over to see what some of the more right wing press would have to say, I was nervous. That said, I couldn’t help but feel mocking the traditions and customs of this country, in the context of greeting Her late Majesty the Queen was crass at best, perhaps even hypocritical. And, critically, the curtseyed greeting for a reigning monarch - however preposterous you think that might be - is something a Duchess is required to do, so about that Duchess title…Anyway, off I went in search of more.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Daily Mail didn’t disappoint. Its columnist, Sarah Vine declared from P1 of Friday 9th December issue: “Harry is a very damaged man - and I feel for him.” Is he? Why do you say that? She explains by victimising poor little helpless Harry - at the hands of Meghan, of course - he is ‘a very damaged man, scarred by his experiences as a child.” And what of Vine’s Meghan: “there is an edge to her, a disingenuous polish that doesn’t quite sit right.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK Harry and Meghan doing it their way (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)NEW YORK, NEW YORK Harry and Meghan doing it their way (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK Harry and Meghan doing it their way (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)

Do you see that, through the mist? There she stands. Kurtz’s Heart of Darkness African mistress. Mysterious. Threatening. You see how this works, right? Honestly, since Joseph Conrad’s novella was published in 1899, some people haven’t made a jot of progress, have they? Unlike some, I moved on, looking to learn more about how others were interpreting this latest development in this family feud of all family feuds.

Denise Welch, a small-screen favourite whose Natalie Barnes character has seen more family bust-ups than the Royal Family can shake a stick at, declared: “The media cannot stand that they can’t control Meghan and Harry! I’ve championed them for years and will continue to do so. They are a beautiful couple who have used their separate platforms to help those with mental health issues. Meghan has used her voice since childhood.”

And that’s it, isn’t it. At least that’s getting much closer to my view on quite why two people who are trying to have their say - do not forget that this diary piece Netflix have produced is a mere News In Brief (NIB to those in the trade) versus the deluge of copy written about them, much of it ill-informed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The sad thing is, Harry and Meghan had the power to tell their story straight. To give an honest account of what their love for one another has been up against since day one, and they blew it. They blew it by selling their souls to a company that puts selling stories before telling stories and I fear that whomever has advised them is responsible for that hole in the Sussexes hull.