Meghan Markle certainly knows how to play her part. And she should — she wrote it, after all. Soon after getting engaged to the English prince, the Hollywood star announced her retirement from acting. It was an odd choice for a self-proclaimed progressive feminist: To marry into the most conservative institution in the Western world and have a wedding ceremony that would not be out of place in a 1950s Disney princess movie. But then again, she looked gorgeous in her wedding dress and the people adored her, so to hell with all that.
The job of a royal is straightforward enough. Be graceful and self-effacing. Enjoy the unearned money quietly; resent the unwanted attention privately. And whatever you do, do not get on the wrong side of the press: It makes the whole family look bad. But Markle had a different idea of what “happily ever after” should look like.
Episode one: She meets handsome prince and falls in love. Episode two: She marries handsome prince as all the kingdom rejoices. But the Meghan show took the same turn as every TV drama. Episode three: An evil villain (the press) turns against her (mostly because of the hypocritical things she has said and done since the wedding), while certain family members (her quieter sister-in-law, for instance) brought additional tension. This takes us to episode four — and the part we have all been waiting for — when the heroine retreats into a barren wilderness (Canada) . . .
Get the popcorn ready!
On Instagram, the couple shared their plan to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent,” which is all part of a plan to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” But did anyone tell the queen? Shock, horror — no. According to reports, Her Majesty was “disappointed.” Dickie Arbiter, her former press secretary, said that she was “probably more angry” over this than she had been over “[Prince] Andrew’s car-crash interview last year” (referring to his failed attempt to talk himself out of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal). But of course, this only strengthens the development of Markle’s character arc. Now she is misunderstood, as well as mistreated. Brilliant!
Of course, the monarchy hasn’t seriously mattered since around 1215. And out in the real world, the celebrity of it gets tedious quickly. But Markle and Harry-since-Meghan have taken this tedium to a whole new level. The couple’s politics are predictable; their causes, vacuous; their public statements, self-regarding and sanctimonious. And they just won’t shut up, either. If they were being honest about it, they’d have followed their promise to “step back” with “and into the limelight where we intend to stay while appearing pained and aghast.”
Piers Morgan, host of Good Morning Britain, has an interesting insight with respect to Markle. He claims that she was initially very friendly toward him but then “ghosted” him after meeting the prince. In his Daily Mail column, he has said that such behavior “signified a worrying social-climbing character trait that has seen her ditch many friends and almost all her family if she feels they may threaten her ferociously ambitious rise up the celebrity ladder.”
Morgan has also been unimpressed by Markle’s decision to cut her father out of her life after, attempting to counter rumors her friends had spread about him in People magazine, he had published in the Daily Mail a letter she sent him. The British public were far more unimpressed by the couple’s virtue-signaling about climate change while flying around the world on their private jets and lecturing them about poverty while enjoying a multimillion-dollar home, courtesy of the taxpayer.
A recent ITV documentary took a more supportive view, however. Following the couple on their trip to South Africa, it opens with dramatic music, and the voice of the presenter — a friend of the couple, incidentally — narrates: “As this journey wore on, another human story emerged, of a man still wrestling with the legacy of his background, his birth, and of the tragic death of his mother [Princess Diana, a royal troublemaker of greater credibility and fame than Markle, died in a car crash driven by a speeding drunk while being chased by paparazzi], and of one particular fear: that history might repeat itself, as his wife struggles to adapt to a life in the spotlight.” Then over to Markle:
Markle: You add this [media attention] on top of just trying to be a new mom, or trying to be a newlywed — and also, thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m okay. . . . But it’s, uh . . . a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.
Presenter: And the answer is, would it be fair to say, “Not really” okay?
The dramatic music continues as the camera zooms in on her best “fighting back tears” face.
Is this a documentary or a soap opera?
In case anyone needs reminding, Meghan Markle is not Princess Diana. Not even close. Her husband has less claim to the throne than his tiniest nephew. This Hollywood climber has been more than happy to take media attention when it was positive — and much of it has been — but unwilling to shrug off the bad with the good or to learn from her PR mistakes. In doing so, she has committed the cardinal sin in British public life: taking oneself too seriously.