Did Meghan Markle grow up as an only child? She said she did, in that famously awful Oprah interview. Yet Samantha Markle, her half-sister, has taken her to court over the claim. She argues that Meghan made her feel ‘humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale.’
Rather than defending the veracity of their client’s assertion, the Duchess of Sussex’s lawyers have chosen instead to say that Meghan’s claim was ‘obviously not meant to be a statement of objective fact’. In other words, duh, people – Meghan knows she has two half-siblings, Samantha and Thomas. No, her remark was, according to her lawyers, ‘a textbook example of a subjective statement about how a person feels about her childhood’.
Well, there is something objectively hilarious about that use of ‘textbook’. Haven’t you read all those textbooks in which people claim to be only children when they aren’t? The official statements of the Duke and Duchess often deploy this torturously sub-Freudian lingo – as if not really written for public consumption, let alone clarity, but for two pairs of eyes in particular. Harry and Meghan’s apparent addiction to therapy talk – as an outlet for self-pity – overwhelms everything, including, it seems, even the notion of such a thing as truth.
That may be why the Markle story holds such a sway over the public imagination. We are living in the post-truth age, a time of alternative facts, fake news and algorithmic distortions. Meghan Markle is the Grand Duchess of Post-Truthiness, which is why she has gravitated back to Hollywood, the la la land where rich people can buy their reality and blather on endlessly about mental well-being. Their official Instagram, Sussexroyal™ is almost a parody of this feelings-first worldview: ‘Today, I feel …’ declares one post. You – yes, you – fill in the blank.
Maybe this really is the future. Right-wing blowhards like to say that facts don’t care about your feelings. Meghan proves them wrong: her feelings don’t care about your facts. Harry and Meghan represent the ascendant generations of millennials and Zoomers, so many of whom have been trained, almost brainwashed to feel, not think. It doesn’t matter what happens or happened. All that matters is your emotional response. Your precious ego is the sun around which everything else must orbit.
As for the Markles, they prove Tolstoy’s line that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Their bitterness towards each other is manna from tabloid hell. The father falls out repeatedly with his daughter. Samantha has already written a book called The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister and attacks her on Twitter.
Then again, in Meghan’s universe, none of that needs to be true. Not objectively, anyway.
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