'Can we please let Harry and Meghan have their Happy Ever After now?'
PUBLISHED: 20:00 14 January 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
After years of being hounded by the tabloid press, Ms Markle has successfully negotiated a spot of Megxit. It's a bold and courageous move - and it's certainly the right one
"And they lived happily ever after....". At least, that's how I hope we'll one day reflect on Harry and Meghan's decision to step back from their roles as senior royals. Last week, the couple sent the British media into a tailspin when they announced that they would be bowing out of the spotlight and putting their own health and happiness first.
The Sun was characteristically subdued in its coverage, declaring that "civil war" had erupted at the palace, with Prince Charles and William said to be "incandescent with rage". The Daily Mail, meanwhile, reported on the "Queen's fury" in a bumper "palace bombshell" edition. The overwhelming response to the news from the press and the public alike appeared to be one of shock and surprise. From newspaper headlines to social media posts, everyone seemed incredulous that this could have happened.
But if we look back at how cruelly Meghan has been treated by the tabloids over the last few years, the only surprising thing about the announcement is that it hasn't happened any sooner. Since the first days of their courtship, the couple has been subject to intense media scrutiny and intrusive prying into their personal lives. The tabloids have particularly enjoyed belittling and ridiculing Meghan, gleefully finding fault in everything she does.
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Where sister-in-law Kate Middleton has been praised, Meghan has been criticised for the same behaviour, exposing an obvious double standard in the press treatment of the two women. "Pregnant Kate tenderly cradles her baby bump," the Daily Mail gushed when the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting. When Meghan was pregnant with baby Archie, it was a different story entirely, with the same paper asking: "why can't Meghan keep her hands of her bump? Is it pride, vanity, acting, or a new-age bonding technique?"
While the Express suggested that Kate enjoyed an avocado snack as a "morning sickness cure", the Daily Mail reported that Meghan's penchant for avocados was "fuelling human rights abuses, drought and murder". This unwavering support for Kate and constant condemnation of Meghan sends a clear message - that no matter what she does, she will always be wrong. But even beyond this relentless nit-picking, the British media's scrutiny of the couple has, at times, crossed over into a gross invasion of privacy. In October 2018, the couple appeared to reach their limit, launching legal action against the Mail on Sunday after the paper published a private letter between Meghan and her father. In a statement explaining the lawsuit, Prince Harry admonished the British tabloid media and expressed his fear of "history repeating itself". "I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person," he wrote. "I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."
It's clear that these fears and frustrations have played a part in the couple's sensible decision to step back from the monarchy. And the instant, angry backlash against the move has shown that their decision is certainly the right one. As soon as the statement hit the internet, the apoplectic responses began pouring in. The couple's official Instagram feed was flooded with comments accusing Meghan of tearing the royal family apart and sending the British monarchy into crisis. The papers excitedly jumped on the opportunity to paint Ms Markle as responsible for all of the problems within Buckingham palace - conveniently forgetting Prince Andrew's recent scandal involving his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
As Harry and Meghan step out of the spotlight and enter into a 'transitional period', hopefully this will be the last barrage of abuse that they are forced to endure at the hands of the British press. It's still too early to tell what the future might hold for the couple, but here's hoping that they get the happy ending that they deserve.