SINCE cringeing my way through Meghan and Harry’s Oprah catastrophe, I’ve found myself deeply divided on the issue. I don’t mean I can’t pick a side (Oh, I’ve picked a side, all right). I mean I’m caught between a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.
Each narrates its own fantasy in my ear – one of mayhem, the other of rescue. To the mayhem first: In my devilish fantasy, I am an adviser to the Duchess, and I decide her next bombshell should be this: At a dinner a couple of years ago, a male member of the Royal household – it would be inappropriate to say which one – placed a hand on her thigh. No, no. She won’t say any more. It’s been hard enough speaking this truth, but she felt it was her duty to other women to speak out.
Imagine! This, on top of the racism allegation, would cement Meghan’s reputation among her supporters as a courageous teller of truth to power. It would boost her claim to victimhood.
The allegation would be vague enough to slander every man in the family and their wider circle, and would be impossible to refute, though a semi-plausible denial would inevitably plop from the Palace after a few days of agonised indecision.
To be clear, this scenario is my fantasy. Meghan has made no such allegation and is entirely innocent of the behaviour I describe. It is me, with my sick mind, who is guilty. Why do I have these thoughts? What’s wrong with me? Maybe it’s my dread of what’s coming next. Because what if this is just the start?
I’ve tried to like Meghan Markle. But boy, she doesn’t make it easy. At first I hoped she’d bring some freshness and modernity to a stale institution. She certainly looked the part. But my optimism was eroded by those same factors it seems Princess Anne objected to all along. Those of ‘conduct and character’.
Try as I might to interpret the Oprah interview as a triumph of social justice over racist oppression, I can’t help but notice that Meghan’s truth differs substantially from the objective truth, and I suspect that her motivation was to inflict maximal damage on her husband’s family. So you’ll forgive me for wondering what crazy stunt she might pull next.
Why do I care? Because the monarchy is in peril? Partly, the monarchy being one of those institutions you tend to appreciate more as you get older and contemplate the bleakness of the alternatives.
But it’s more that Meghan resembles the compelling creation of a skilful novelist. She’s such a deliciously unreliable narrator because it’s never clear to what extent she believes herself.
Possibly her recollection – contradicted by the Archbishop of Canterbury – of having married in private before the official wedding was an innocent mistake. But what about the claim that her son would be a prince, were it not for the racially-motivated obstruction of the senior royals?
This is an incendiary allegation, whose consequences will blaze down the generations. Yes, it was refuted within hours. But if millions across the globe believe that 9/11 was the work of the American president, millions will believe this.
Worse still, Archie will believe it, and one dreads to think how that grievance will warp his personality and wreak havoc on the monarchy for years to come.
But the question that fascinates me is: Does Meghan believe it? Who knows? She kind of looks like she does. But then she is, after all, a pretty good actress.
Just as compelling is the decline, or the evisceration, of Prince Harry. Think back to 2008, when it turned out he’d been merrily machine-gunning the Taliban for months and none of us knew.
The man is clearly capable of courage. When he was due to be sent to Iraq, a militia leader promised: ‘We will be generous with him. For we will return him to his grandmother – but without ears.’
That would put the wind up most of us. But it seems Harry showed an admirable, Private Ryan-esque reluctance to be rescued, and was keen to be posted to Iraq despite the £250,000 bounty on his head.
He didn’t go, but he did complete two tours in Afghanistan, where he had the ‘joy’ of firing an Apache helicopter’s Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. He said: ‘It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful.’
This drew some flak at the time for seeming to betray a callous disregard for the lives of the enemy. And it struck me as a bit crass. Then I thought, okay, so Harry is not exactly Wilfred Owen, but maybe there are worse qualities in a front-line soldier than a blithe attitude to the business of killing, and Harry was continuing the tradition of Windsor men who have served honourably in the military.
In fact, their removal from service seems to have a destabilising effect. (Remember – if you can bear to – Prince Andrew’s interview with Emily Maitlis, in which he suggested his alleged paedo-adjacent troubles began after he left the Navy and found himself rudderless).
How must Harry feel when he looks back on his Army days, now that he has converted to the Church of Woke? According to his new religion, machine-gunning the Taliban might be seen as an exhibition of toxic masculinity. Certainly, it’s – what’s that word they love? – problematic. But at least he had a clear role back then. Whereas now …
Announcing his new jobs with the Aspen Foundation and BetterUp, Harry’s statements were textbook corporate twaddle. It was impossible to tell where the real Harry ended and the PR waffle began. And in interviews, his speech is littered with phrases such as ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘structural racism’. He attributes this awokening to his wife. I’m not sure it’s an improvement.
Listening to Harry recite the fatuous shibboleths of the woke Left, I’m reminded of an interview by the journalist Helen Lewis with the 12 Rules for Life author Jordan Peterson. After an hour of countering the usual claims that he was basically a Nazi, the famous Canadian academic fired back with this …
‘I’m not hearing what you think. I could replace you with someone else who thinks the same way. And that means you’re not here … that’s the pathology of ideological possession, and it’s not good.’
And when the ideological possession occurs at the hands of a spouse, maybe that’s even less good.
Harry has already been in therapy. But to what effect? I look at his collusion in Meghan’s attacks on his family, the smouldering remains of his bridges back home, and his increasingly haunted face, and I resort to the solace of my second fantasy …
Tired of the limelight, Jordan Peterson returns to his clinical practice. His first patient is Prince Harry. With robust questioning, Dr Peterson midwives this revelation from Harry’s troubled mind: It’s possible that at least some of the judgment of Meghan arises not from the colour of her skin, but from the content of her character.
At first, the new knowledge would be painful, but the rewards would be worth it if they could prevent Harry from becoming a lost, creepy pariah like his Uncle Andrew. Harry is 36 years old. It’s not too late.