For a couple wanting to stay out of the limelight, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex certainly make a good fist of making the headlines.
The latest move by the artists formerly known as Harry and Meghan has angered the Royal family, stoked the media into a frenzy and confused even their most ardent supporters. Indeed, one could say (probably best to speak like a Royal here) even the most fevered of fans will be questioning this latest twist in an ever-gripping saga.
Having spent 15 years writing for newspapers across the country in the Nineties and Noughties, the Royal family has always attracted its fair share of attention, often for the wrong reasons. But it’s worthwhile giving some insight into how these stories happen; how the Royals and our growing band of celebs and hangers-on end up in the Press. It’s certainly no accident.
Freelancing in a national newsroom in the mid-90s, it became clear that Princess Diana had phoned the photodesk to tell them she was taking the young princes for a burger on the Kings Road at 4pm. Her calls were a regular occurrence. The pictures duly appeared the next day, yet the following week she told a separate newspaper how she “couldn’t even take the boys for a burger without getting photographed”. The reality is always different from the illusion, and while there is no doubt she was hounded by Press in her final years, a lot of this was orchestrated by her own hand.
Harry and Meghan are caught in the same trap. They want the trappings and success of Royal life but they want it on their terms. Admirable or nonsensical, it’s up for each of us to decide, but given the way the Royals have operated for centuries it’s highly unlikely they can do things their own way without creating more hysteria and intrusion.
Tom Bradby’s sickly ‘insight’ at the end of the News at Ten bulletin last night also proves how blinkered our media has become. It’s a news bulletin, not an opinion, so just because he has a special relationship with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex doesn’t mean he should temper the story. Wishing them ‘good luck’ when the pair have promptly hacked off everyone around them in their pursuit of happiness is a little glib.
And don’t get me started on “financial independence”. Whether it’s taxpayers money or money from the Duchy of Cornwall’s estate, there’s no way that the Duke and Duchess can survive their life of indulgence without placing some burden on the UK. The Royal household gets around £80m from the UK government each year and yet it costs £100m to provide them with security, so that will only increase if a splinter group heads off to North America.
Of course, as soon as we heard news of the Sussexes dropping away from public gaze, they launched a new website – sussexroyal.com – to keep people up-to-date with their happenings. Maybe one can have their cake and eat it, but I’m not so sure.