Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is suing a British newspaper for publishing a handwritten letter to her father. Prince Harry, for his part, has attacked the press for waging a campaign against his wife ‘with no thought to the consequences’. But it isn’t just the tabloid media that is turning on the American duchess. She’s turning into a royal nightmare. In the cover piece of the first US edition of The Spectator, Rod Liddle argues that the ‘Princess of Woke’ is rubbing up the British the wrong way. Please America, take her back?
The great triumph of recent American politics is for the people of your fine country to have elected as president a man who is the precise embodiment of what supercilious Europeans think Americans are really like. Pig-ignorant, arrogant, jingoistic, contemptuous of foreigners, loud-mouthed, badly dressed and irredeemably bumptious. So consuming is the European antipathy toward Donald Trump — he’s never read a book! He eats steak with ketchup! — that it afflicts leading politicians across our continent, people who would be better advised to button it a while and show a little bit of diplomacy to the leader of the free world. But they can’t: the contempt always bleeds through.
This is one reason why I have a little bit of time for this gift you Americans have bestowed upon the world, Mr Trump. He enrages the liberal cretinati — in other words, all the right people. And I sincerely hope you elect him once again.
There are other gifts you have given us which, frankly, I would much rather had been FedExed to the other side of the world as the consequence of some human error or computer glitch. Pre-eminent among these is Meghan Markle. Thank you very much for the thought — but would you now please take her back? We’ve had enough and the maintenance charges impinge heavily upon such a small satrapy as the UK. We will of course chip in for the flights — by private jet, naturally, although Elton John will personally pay for the carbon offset.
Markle is a nightmare. At the time of her engagement to Prince Harry — hitherto a genial if somewhat dim young man who occasionally enjoyed Nazi dress-up for parties — we were all enjoined to believe that this was Britain’s ‘Obama Moment’: i.e., a rather wonderful thing to behold. It was an Obama Moment because Meghan was — is — of course black and was joining the royal family, which has been pretty resolutely white these last thousand years or so, unless you count Greeks as black. Meghan’s admirable blackness was trumpeted from the rooftops by the liberals who could show you racism in a handful of dust. None of the rest of us cared in the slightest about her skin color or provenance, and still don’t. Truth be told, her skin color is the least objectionable thing about the woman.
It’s the rest of the stuff we don’t like — although when we point this out we are invariably accused of racism. No, what Meghan has done is drag with her, across the Atlantic, a garbage truck full of the most emetic US wokeness and deposited it on our front lawns. She has brought with her the infantile identity politics of Hollywood and US campuses, with all its non sequiturs, its bizarre obsessions, its mutual contradictions and its self-evident hypocrisies. The politics of Taylor Swift and Robert Downey Jr. The sort of stuff which, in the end, convinced your people to vote for Donald Trump, as a kind of blessed relief, a form of deliverance.
She lectures us Brits on poverty and how awful it is. Well, indeed. I say beware of being lectured on poverty by a woman whose engagement ring cost almost $370,000. Beware of being lectured on poverty by a woman whose house was refurbished by the taxpayers at a cost of $30 million so that she could have right-on organic paint on the walls and bring up her child in a ‘gender-neutral environment’, whatever the hell that is. Oh, and also bung in two orangeries and a ‘floating floor’. The two of them then announced with ineffable sanctimony to the world that they would be having no more than two children, because that was the socially responsible thing to do — failing to understand that our birthrate in the UK is stable or actually in decline and that the people who need to be told about family planning all tend to live in sub-Saharan Africa or the Asian third world. But to mention that would be politically incorrect, one assumes.
Then there’s the climate change stuff. She has urged all of us to ‘do our bit’. She’s done hers. Countless trips across the world in private jets — four in 11 days at one point — leaving a carbon footprint equivalent to personally strangling 42,000 polar bears or clubbing to death 500,000 seals. But the sheer hypocrisy does not begin to register with the woman.When the double standards were pointed out in the media we were told that her reaction was to ‘rise above it’. Yeah, in a 19-seater Lear jet, with a lackey pouring you an Aperol with kale juice.
The Duchess of Sussex, to give her the proper title, was invited to guest-edit British Vogue and indulged in a magnificent spate of virtue-signaling. On the cover she chose photographs of ‘inspirational women’ who almost all seemed to have been chosen for their ethnicity, celebrity or progressive opinions and almost all of whom were utterly devoid of talent. There was no room on that cover for her grandmother-in-law, the Queen, who has presided over our nation for nearly 70 years with consummate dignity and reserve, like royals are supposed to do. But dignity and reserve are not part of Meghan’s political lexicon: instead, it’s all about ‘me’,a liberal narcissism dressed up as compassion.
More Meghan? There’s always more Meghan, pouring out of the newspapers on a daily basis. Meghan’s personal team, for instance. She doesn’t need a personal team because the royal family does all that — an established firm, the royals, tend to know their stuff. But presumably as part of the growing feud between Meghan and Harry on the one side and the rather more circumspect (and royal) William and Kate on the other, Meghan has ditched their joint press officer and is now employing American Sara Latham, who did such a brilliant job as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign adviser. Meanwhile, Harry has been landed with another former Barack Obama aide as his private secretary, Heather Wong.
All of this stuff, this leftish and repulsive political grandstanding by people who are as rich as Croesus, will not be new to you in America. It is a fugue of self-serving imbecility which accompanies you every day, I suppose, from an unimaginably affluent elite which simply has no conception of how ordinary people live their lives.
The extent to which it grates on the populace can be seen by what they do, the thicko voters, once they make their way down to the polls. My suspicion is that for every celebrity video decrying Trump as a white supremacist scumbag, the Republican vote inches up by a few hundred thousand. The message being: we will watch your TV programs and films and listen to your music, but when you lecture us on politics we will either ignore you or use your views as an indication of what not to think.
For Meghan, though, the problem is a little graver. The royal family is supposed to be above the political fray. The Queen of England rarely ends her tweets #MeToo. Indeed, she tends not to tweet. Meghan, though, is palpably not above the political fray, except that I suppose these hyperliberals, as the philosopher John Gray calls them, do not think they are ‘political’ at all, simply that they are totally right about everything and that any and all objections to their vapid pronouncements must come from one or another deeply regrettable condition — racism, for example, or sexism or homophobia. Meghan, in attempting to be the bastard offspring of Rosa Parks and Bono, is alienating the commoners, the very people who are usually most supportive of our monarchy.
Anyway, perhaps we will be in for some respite, sooner or later. Meghan and Harry have let it be known that they are thinking of moving to Hollywood. Good. The woman has already blurred the lines between what she thinks a royal should be and what she knows a celebrity should be. In truth, although there may be some faded, fusty glamour attached to the British royal family, like a slightly foxed first edition smelling faintly of corgi urine, it is light years from Hollywood celebritydom: in a sense it is the very antithesis of it.
Either way, take her back, will you, before we become a republic.
This article is in The Spectator’s October 2019 US edition.