Cinderella had her evil stepmother, Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader and Donald Trump had, among other things, stairs, umbrellas, spelling, the truth, and hurricanes. You don’t have to look far to find plenty of examples of famous nemeses out there, but today we have another one.
Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and “them”.
See, on Tuesday, the second trailer for the couple’s six-part Netflix series, which is oh-so-humbly being pitched by the streamer as a “global event”, was released. It’s all very dramatic and slick and promises us “the full truth”.
Every great tale needs not only brave heroes (in this case our royal evacuees) but a bad guy or two, and in this trailer, Harry and Meghan make it clear there are some very dastardly opponents indeed involved.
So exactly who is to blame for things devolving such that the duke and duchess have ended up in the US flogging podcasts and an app and a vegan latte brand? Everyone but Harry and Meghan, this trailer would seem to argue.
The world will have to wait until Thursday night (AEDT) to find out exactly what precisely is revealed, but based on the two trailers, what is clear is that this is all someone else’s fault.
It’s someone else’s fault that today they are forced to live in an estate in California, a ten and a half-hour flight away from the Soho Farm or from the nearest warm pint and it’s someone else’s fault that they are no longer plugging away on behalf of the monarchy today.
Nearly three years on since Megxit and absolutely nothing would appear to have changed. The Sussexes, their “truth” would seem to go, were poorly and unjustly treated by powerful forces and they are victims, something we know because we are presented with shots of Harry with his head in his hands and Meghan appearing wearing no makeup and a scrunchie.
In the trailer, as Harry stares dolefully out of a car window, he says, “It’s really hard to look back on it now and go, what on earth happened?” as if that might be some great philosophical conundrum or one of the Millennium Prize maths problems.
But there is a simple answer: They happened.
If 2018 was a rousing, Disney-esque fairytale, with a wedding and a baby, then 2019 was reality asserting itself and the world seeing the duke and duchess in (at times highly controversial) action.
Meghan went to New York for an A-list baby shower that was held in a reported $223,000-a-night hotel suite, she ridiculously scribbled on bananas and they either accidentally or intentionally tried to pull a swiftie over the press and therefore the public when it came to son Archie’s birth.
When the duke decided to do some intoning about the climate crisis he then followed that up by the family tootling off for two luxury holidays via private jet.
These were not cruel stories cooked up by the press but actual events that they were full participants in.
When will Harry and Meghan ever take any smidgen of responsibility for their role in this Greek tragedy? Why can’t they ever admit that they might have made a mistake or two along the way?
That is not to absolve the press or the Palace of any culpability. Were there instances of misogyny, racism and xenophobia in the press? For sure. Also, the Duchess of Sussex unequivocally came in for racist abuse on social media and, as an outgoing counter-terrorism chief revealed last week, faced “disgusting and very real” threats.
However, there is War and Peace-length post-mortem in looking back at many factors and forces that contributed to the Sussex dream crashing and burning, with just as much Tolstoy-approved misery and far fewer turnips.
Harry and Meghan themselves are one of them.
Based on this second trailer, the duke and duchess do not so far seem to have much by way of actual proof to back up their finger-pointing.
When Meghan says, “I realised, they’re never going to protect you,” it is over the top of grainy smartphone footage that in one instance shows a car a driving on the right-hand side of the road therefore is likely in the US and a shot of a media scrum around a car that is actually footage of when Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen went to prison in 2019.
When Harry comments, “I was terrified. I didn’t want history to repeat itself,” we are shown them leaving their first official engagement in late 2017 at which Meghan earned only glowing praise and footage that appears to actually come from reality star Katie Price’s 2021 DUI court appearance. I agree with Harry, I don’t want Katie to end up before a magistrate again too.
We also learn thanks to Harry’s insider knowledge “there’s a hierarchy of the family”. Were the Sussexes’ labouring under the misapprehension that they were involved in some sort of meritocracy or thought that Sovereign Grant funding was tied to their Instagram likes?
All these years on and any willingness for self-reflection seems to elude the duke and duchess still.
Theirs is an Orwellian, reductive truth; a sort of “you are either with us or against us” bunker mentality that does not appear to leave any space for anything like nuance. (That’s not going to keep people watching for six episodes now is it?)
They and Netflix appear to expect us to swallow the gospel according to the Sussexes holus-bolus. And, maybe after watching Harry & Meghan, we will. Maybe they will tell a moving and compelling story.
Or maybe millions will dip into the show for one episode only to give up because who wants to watch two people so hooked on their own hurts they do not seem to have twigged that the world today has changed profoundly since they packed up their his and hers yoga mats?
More than 6.5 million people have died from Covid. There is a bloody war being fought in Europe. Democracy may or may not be about to go down the toilet in the US.
Harry and Meghan have not lost loved ones to a rampaging virus and they spent the pandemic roaming around a vast estate, all the while supposedly pulling in absolute fortune in TV, book and podcast deals.
And yet they still seem to feel fully entitled to sympathy.
In a sad piece of symmetry, the first “volume” of this show will debut on the three-month anniversary of the late Queen’s death. Earlier this week the Telegraph published a story saying that, “according to those who knew her best,” the Sussexes’ Oprah interview last year left her “devastated”, “bewildered” and “disappointed.” Just imagine how this “global event” would have made her feel.
Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
Story Credit: news.com.au