Pretty much everything I know about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle I’ve been forced to absorb against my will.
For the last few months, even years now, the lives of the couple have been splattered across front-page articles and mainstream news. While Markle has had a career as an actress in the United States, Harry’s biggest — and frankly only — claim to fame is a family association he gained through birth. Amidst a growing cost of living crisis, colossal global inflation rates and a terrifying climate catastrophe, news that matters should not be hijacked by meaningless tabloid gossip.
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Whether it was the bit about how Harry lost his virginity behind a shack to a woman that treated him “like a stallion” or his mushroom trip at Courtney Cox’s home, I’ve involuntarily learned particulars about the life of this 38-year-old prince from the House of Windsor.
There has been no way to avoid it. Be it on news websites, on Instagram or Twitter feeds, on Netflix or Spotify top 10 lists, and now even on the shelves of bookstores — my usual safe haven — there has been no escape from Harry, Meghan and other British royals (or ex-royals).
The recent release of Harry’s memoir, Spare, has led to even more frenzied news coverage of the family’s dirty laundry than usual. December brought a six-part Netflix documentary series and a string of media appearances. And of course, no one has forgotten the viral Oprah Winfrey interview in 2021.
But here’s the irony.
Harry has repeatedly attacked the media, blaming them for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, as well as his wife’s miscarriage among other things. For a couple that has taken almost every opportunity to complain about how damaging intrusive journalism has been, Harry and Meghan seem oddly willing to lay bare every detailed minutia of their lives, in exchange for millions of dollars. And for some reason we are now expected to care.
Harry’s latest claim, while promoting his book, is that his elder brother William — the first in line to the British throne — physically assaulted him. Instead of relaying that to the police at the time, Harry opted to save the detail for a memoir sold at an official retail price of £28 ($34) per copy. I guess he needed to balance what scandalous topics made it to the Netflix documentary for which he and Meghan were reportedly paid $100m, what makes it to a Spotify podcast series apparently worth $18m and what made it to the book. How else would he get people to pay for all of them?
Now with a book, podcast and documentary series out, we are left wondering what the couple has saved to cash in on a cinematic dramatisation of their lives which, according to Peter Morgan, showrunner of the Netflix show The Crown, is “too fresh” to write yet.
I have previously written about how irrelevant the royal family is, as well as the corruption fuelling their power. I would have been the first in line to buy Harry’s Spare if he had confronted his grandmother — the late Queen Elizabeth II — on his family’s legacy of colonialism, global imperialism and oppression, and had written about that in the book. But to force-feed information like how Harry’s son, Archie, was not offered taxpayer-funded protection by the royal family is ludicrous and fails to garner my sympathy.
Meanwhile, Harry has detailed how his approach to much of the world is in keeping with his family’s history. Instead of trying to create a pity story for the profoundly wealthy couple now living in California, the media should be highlighting how Harry, in his book, described almost with pride that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan during his stint there with the military. Harry has confessed to thinking of those he shot from his attack helicopter as “chess pieces” to be removed from the board. That isn’t a surprise: After all, in 2013, he said “playing PlayStation and Xbox” made him a better military pilot.
Dehumanising the lives of Afghans and others in the Global South of course comes naturally to the British elite. Dead Afghans are merely a statistic to them. Harry’s ancestors have led repeated invasions into Afghanistan since 1838, killing an untold number of Afghans.
Just as I’m not interested in the daily lives of Harry and Meghan, I have no fascination with the British monarchy in general. Is the royal family corrupt? Yes. Is this new information? No.
The media should stop focussing on Harry and Meghan’s antics and keep it in the celebrity gossip columns where they belong.
There are far more pertinent things we should be worried about. The royal family and its members are only relevant if we continue to make them relevant.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.