Sunday, September 25, 2022

Meghan, Harry & Oprah: Why Living Well Is The Best Revenge

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It’s been a great week for Meghan and Harry after a long, difficult year. Emma Clifton writes about why she’s counting down to the Oprah special

I’ll admit that when Meghan Markle first dropped into my consciousness, I didn’t really care for the idea of her. It just seemed very convenient that Prince Harry had found someone who shared his passion for human rights and activism… who also happened to be an extremely beautiful and glamorous actress.

A few years later, Meghan Markle is the hill I am willing to die on.

Do I still think they’re a slightly ridiculous couple? OF COURSE I DO. He is (was?) a prince, for crying out loud. It is ridiculous for someone to be a prince. The Royal Family do their very, very best to look extremely serious and maudlin the entire time in an attempt to distract us from the fact that it’s 2021 and they live in castles. That is ridiculous. It is ridiculous that they keep the same protocols that they did from Eleventy Hundred Years Ago.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – I do not think the whole ‘Royal family set-up’ actually benefits anyone, including them. It is a rich but boring and heavily, heavily scrutinised role. It’s not like there were a huge number of sensible women lining up to marry into that family – you wonder if the reason Harry and William took so long to settle down is because they knew they were condemning any future partner to a role that isolated and punished their mother; that drove so many of their relatives mad. Along with big castles and good outfits, the thread that runs through every season of The Crown is how bloody miserable the whole lot are. William, as heir, was doomed from the start but Harry managed to escape and honestly all I can think is GOOD FOR HIM.

Years ago, my mother taught me her belief that ‘living well is the best revenge’ and it’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. It’s forward focused and self-focused, rather than leaving you stuck in the past or obsessing about other people. (It’s also EXTREMELY good break-up advice). It’s the main thesis of a Rickey Thompson video that Team Capsule refers to often when we need a perk-up.

Well I’ll say this – Meghan and Harry are booked and busy. A trifecta of great news from the LA chapter of the Royal family hit the news this week: Meghan won her privacy case against the Mail on Sunday (after they published a private letter from her father), Meghan and Harry are going to be interviewed by Oprah in early March AND they’re expecting their second baby.

While baby news is always well-received, the impending Oprah interview has put the shits up everyone in the British press and honestly, it’s a joy to see. Because while the UK press seems to very much be living the ‘Meghan ruined Harry, destroyed the Royal Family and kidnapped him to LA’ narrative, the US press are overjoyed at the modern twist on the fairy-tale – this time, the princess saved the prince.

And no-one loves a fairy-tale ending more than Oprah and the Oprah audience. Imagine, someone with empathy, someone who understands fame and loss, sitting down not only with Meghan but also Harry, whose impressive attempts to talk about his own mental health were mostly sniffed at by the British press. He’s in LA now, talking to Oprah – this is a land and an empire built on people talking about their feelings. No wonder the Royal press are so outraged – there is so, so much potential for bad Royal stories. What if Oprah brings up Prince Andrew, a man apparently not allowed in America because he’s allegedly wanted by the FBI due to his close friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender?

Any time there is controversy within the Royal Family – and there is ALWAYS controversy within the Royal Family – they’ve always relied on a stance of saying ‘Nothing to see here’ and then distracting us with their own headlines. The fact that anti-Meghan headlines reached fever pitch just as the extent of Andrew’s alleged wrongdoings were being exposed doesn’t feel like a coincidence. Prince Phillip being briefly hospitalised for feeling ill the same week Meghan and Harry revealed their good news also seems like some interesting timing, doesn’t it? Very easy to blame Harry for this spell of bad health, rather than the fact that Phillip is 99 and, well…. time has not been kind.

Living in a post Free Britney world, after watching the very revealing and very depressing documentary on how the fame cycle created and then destroyed Britney Spears, I started thinking ‘what situation are we currently living in that we will judge differently in 10-20 years time?’ And the treatment of Meghan at the hands of both the Royals and the press is an absolute ding-ding-ding moment for me. The media storm around her has been an absolute microcosm of all the ways women and People of Colour are treated badly by the mainstream media AND by the public. The most well-received headlines for Meghan were when she got married and then had a baby. What a win for women to still have your entire worth dictated by your ring finger and your uterus. The minute Archie was out, the flood gates opened and they’ve never shut since.

All photos from Sussex’s instagram, top photo from MISAN HARRIMAN’s twitter

In response to this week’s lovely black and white photo announcing Meghan’s pregnancy, the Daily Mail ran a story with a podiatrist who claimed Harry’s feet were ‘deformed.’ I mean… when your options for telling your story are either that level of journalism or Oprah, the choice is pretty clear, no? And after all, Harry’s is his mother’s son – she knew the value of a good interview special to get her side of the story across; there’s a reason why we can still quote parts of Diana’s Panorama interview 25 years later. Let’s hope this Oprah special delivers some one-liners of its own.

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