by Mandy Garner
Compared to everything else that is happening these days, the Harry and Meghan saga seems very trivial, no matter how histrionic the press is about it – mainly because the press is the one that the first three episodes targeted. I know it’s diversionary tactics to create hate figures and stop us focusing on the industrial scale asset-stripping that this country has seen over the last years and the rickety nature of much of our public services as a result. But still I find myself getting swept up in the whole thing. Mainly because I am a journalist and I find it, even now, so fascinating to see the sheer defensiveness and bullying tactics much of the media employ when cornered.
I watched all three episodes out of curiosity. I couldn’t honestly see what the fuss was about. Some of it was just about how Harry and Meghan met – the romance side and the least interesting bit of it for me. The rest was about their backgrounds and the media intrusion. Surely, Harry has a right to be upset about the press. Surely, Meghan was treated horrendously by the tabloids and social media and still is – made to feel an outsider, a manipulative ‘Other’, a threat to our sense of self.
Every other day she is ‘trending’ on Twitter, a cypher for all the racist hate out there, the kind of stuff that Brexit hugely accentuated – as the programme stated. Much of what the programmes said about that hit home.
My own daughter, who is mixed race and has spoken similarly to Meghan about trying to fit in, was scared to leave the house in case someone told her to ‘go home’. The shock of seeing that kind of overt racism, much of it whipped up by the media [and it’s not just the tabloids], was a huge thing for her and I will never forget it. If hate is visceral, so too is love.
I caught some of the coverage on the radio – was Harry a bit stuck in the past, a saddo for still being upset about his mum dying, not able to ‘get over it’, mused some commentators. I may not be a royal, but I know for sure that the death of parent or a sibling when you are young is not something anyone gets over. It leaves an indelible mark for life because if you ‘got over it’ you would have to forget the person you are grieving for – and that will never happen. Never, never, never.
We all witnessed what happened with Diana. We saw Harry and his brother walking behind the coffin, trying to be so grown up. We say this is all about family politics and we castigate Harry for talking about all this stuff because it is betraying the family. But the royal family is more than a family – it’s an institution at the top of the class system, it’s an industry, it’s a symbol of British imperialism and it’s a national soap opera, marketed as part of everyone’s extended family. Where was that sense of extended family when Harry was paraded in front of us at his mother’s funeral? Where was the collective duty of care?
Instead we have bullying because bullying seems to sell.
Or we have people looking down their noses and dismissing it all as froth. It’s not froth. It’s about the messages we are sold and let wash over us. It is in part about a failure to move on, but not by Harry. It’s a collective failure to move forwards. We are stuck in our own created past and everyone else can see it but us.
Mandy Garner is a journalist and editor of the “Working Mums” website,
Mandy is a victim of press abuse and intrusion – in 2020 the Mail used CCTV footage of her daughter’s death as clickbait