William’s fears for troubled Prince Harry

Tough time: Meghan says friends warned her that British tabloids would “destroy” her life. © Getty

Were they right to speak out? After Harry and Meghan revealed their feelings in a candid TV interview, the Duke of Cambridge said he was “concerned” and hopes that his brother is all right.

In ITV’s new documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, broadcaster Tom Bradby asks Meghan how she is coping with tabloid scrutiny.

“Thank you for asking. Not many people have asked if I’m okay.” Her eyes sparkle with sadness. “But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”

Harry, by her side, is bullish.

“I will not be bullied into playing the game that killed my mum,” he states, referring to Princess Diana’s 1997 crash as her car was pursued by paparazzi.

There is vulnerability beneath the anger. Harry says he is reminded of his mother’s death “every single time [he sees] a camera”, and admits that his mental health requires “constant management”.

It’s a stunningly candid intervention from members of a family whose interactions with the media have long followed the Queen’s “never explain, never complain” mantra.

According to The Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey, this tell-all interview “feels on a par with Princess Diana’s explosive sit-down with Panorama” in the midst of her divorce from Prince Charles, which plunged the royal family into an unprecedented crisis.

The interview was filmed during Harry and Meghan’s recent tour of South Africa with their five-month-old son, Archie.

But the good mood soured when, on the last day of the trip, Harry released a statement accusing the British press of “ruthless” attacks on Meghan, and launched legal action against a group of newspapers over alleged phone hacking. By then, Meghan was already suing The Mail on Sunday for publishing a private, handwritten letter to her father.

Harry and Meghan’s decision to bare their suffering has split opinion.

Within hours after the interview was aired, the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan was trending on Twitter. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Meghan is defending herself against “a screeching, acidic and nasty collective trolling” over everything from how she holds her child to making alterations to her engagement ring.

On the other hand, Judith Woods argues in The Telegraph that the couple’s ill-judged war on the British press “smacks of isolationism”.

“Have the couple been receiving poor advice, or simply ignoring the good advice they’ve received?” asks her colleague, Tominey.

So, were they right to do the interview?

From bad to worse?

It is a “spectacular own goal”, writes Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator. She argues that the Sussexes had “almost won back” the public’s good-will with their African tour featuring baby Archie, before they “turned benign coverage of their visit into shocked coverage of their state of mind”. She concludes, “Self-pity when you’re surrounded by privilege isn’t a good look.”

They are in the right, say scores of the couple’s fans and supporters. The couple is entitled to challenge the media’s campaign of vilification against Meghan. Those who criticise them for speaking out simply show that “what the people really want is a servile woman who keeps her head down and smiles when is appropriate — although not too much, lest she look like she’s courting attention”, says Ella Alexander. This row is showing the nasty side of the press and the public.

You Decide

  1. Would you like to be a royal?
  2. Are Harry and Meghan victims of the press?

Activities

  1. If you were interviewing Prince Harry and Meghan, what five questions would you ask them?
  2. Choose an opinion piece from the Become An Expert section. Highlight facts in one colour, and opinions in the other. Is it always easy to tell the difference?

Some People Say...

“People who read the tabloids deserve to be lied to.”

Jerry Seinfeld, US comedian

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Harry and Meghan: An African Journey was broadcast in the UK at 9pm on Sunday night, on ITV. Aside from the personal interview about the public pressures they face, the programme followed the couple as they raised awareness about minefields — following in the footsteps of Harry’s mother Princess Diana — and women’s rights.
What do we not know?
The future of Prince Harry and Meghan’s place in the royal family. To escape the pressure, the family has announced a short break from royal duties in November. They will split their time between the UK and the USA, where Archie is expected to spend his first Thanksgiving. Harry and Meghan maintain they want to keep acting for what they believe in, through charity work and other projects.

Word Watch

Bullish
Aggressively self-assertive.
Paparazzi
Freelance photographers who take photographs of celebrities to sell on to newspapers and magazines.
Mental health
Harry has previously discussed his mental health struggles, revealing that he underwent counselling to help process his mother’s death.
On a par
Equal to; the same as.
Unprecedented crisis
The couple had separated in the royal family’s “annus horribilis” of 1992, amid a series of scandals. Three years later, Diana appeared on the BBC show and openly discussed her failed marriage, including her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
A group
The lawsuit is targeting the publishers of The Daily Mirror, The Sun and now defunct News of the World.
Handwritten
In the letter, Meghan implored her father Thomas Markle to stop selling stories about her to the tabloids. He handed the letter over to The Mail on Sunday, but the couple argues that she retains copyright of the letter as she wrote it — so, legally, it cannot be published without her permission.
Isolationism
Separating oneself from a group.
Vilification
Abusively negative.
Servile
Like a servant.

Subjects

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