Is there anything we do not know about Harry and Meghan? They might have ‘stepped back’ as senior royals in order to avoid the media spotlight. They might have a habit of suing newspapers and photographers for breaching their privacy and a fondness for elaborate screens and fences around their various homes. But with the publication of Finding Freedom, there is surely no intimate detail of this apparently privacy-loving couple’s life that has not been made public.
We now know, word for word, the advice big brother William offered Harry when his relationship with Meghan first seemed to be getting serious – and, of course, we know exactly what Harry thought of this ‘snobby’ intervention. We know about their first date: ‘it was as if Harry was in a trance’; we know that Meghan performed a ‘perfect’ yoga pose after discussing marriage with Harry; that she FaceTimed a friend from her bath to discuss her father; we know the exact meal Harry ate with the Queen before their final meeting at Windsor. On and on it goes. No detail is too personal or simply too trivial to be left unshared.
Despite revealing details that presumably only people who were in the room when it happened could ever conceivably know, we are expected to believe that Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie wrote Finding Freedom without input from the Sussexes. But Harry and Meghan’s silence speaks volumes. There are no threats of lawsuits against Durand and Scobie. We can only conclude that the Duke and Duchess very much approve.
And why shouldn’t they? In Finding Freedom our intrepid heroes bravely triumph over the snobby brother, the unfriendly sister-in-law and pompous palace officials. Their personal journey towards freedom and validation in a cruel world generates acres of sympathetic publicity. Pictures of a radiant Meghan smiling coyly, hand-in-hand with her defiant prince, accompany every piece. This is no doubt immensely useful when you are busy trying to market yourself as a high profile public speaker.
It’s not just the plot-twists and cliffhangers that keep us hooked. Harry and Meghan – and their complicated relationship with the Royal Family – reflect back to us in salacious bite-sized chunks the many ways in which society is changing. The Sussexes serve up for our delectation the generational differences that can lead to strained relationships between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren.
The Queen is not just a monarch and head of state but a 94-year-old great grandmother: Harry may choose to reject her as an employer but remains tied to her by blood. Yet he has opted for a radically different set of values than those he inherited at birth.
Where Harry and Meghan share every intimate detail of their lives with the world, the Queen and Prince Philip offer only rare snapshots. We know how Harry and Meghan feel about everything and everyone: the Queen and Prince Philip keep their counsel. Her Majesty embodies a lifelong commitment to service and duty, Harry and Meghan seem dedicated only to themselves. Whereas the Queen, as head of state, is rooted within the nation, Harry and Meghan have more in common with a global elite than people here in the UK.
These differences soon become political. The Queen might carefully avoid expressing her views in public but Harry and Meghan have no such compunction. From feminism to Black Lives Matter to environmentalism, we know exactly where their sympathies lie. Through the Sussexes we see exactly how corrosive woke politics are to personal relationships. Finding Freedom turns up one family grievance after another.
The couple seem to perceive microaggressions everywhere. From William’s advice that Harry should take things slowly with ‘this girl’ to complaints from staff who do not want to be emailed instructions at 5am, every encounter is deemed to be an expression of deep-rooted racism. Relationships cannot survive such scrutiny. Loyalty to family, monarchy and country is jettisoned in the desire to expose every awkward glance and clumsy phrase. The more hard done the Duke and Duchess appear, the more sympathy they garner from friends and allies.
Finding Freedom suggests that Harry and Meghan are a thin-skinned couple prepared to sell out close family members in the name of settling petty gripes and grievances. They seem to care about nothing and no one other than themselves. Yet their story fascinates us because it represents the clash of values playing out at the heart of our own society and within our own families: between a culture based on dignity and one based on victimhood. Sadly for the Sussexes, exposing microaggressions and making personal grievances public does not appear to make for a happy life.
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