A Royal Pain

To supporters, they’re soulmates, to most tabloids, they’re a disgrace. Many readers seem to believe anything that’s put in front of them, no matter how unreliable. If readers want ‘the truth’ on Harry and Meghan, then it would be more beneficial to read works made by them, rather than gossip-like articles on them. Nevertheless, some people are so invested in their relationship, they would go to any extent just to get a snippet of what their real lives are like. Why is it that some tabloids are willing to spread blatant lies about someone’s life just to get a few more clicks? The royal couple are undoubtedly tired of endless rumors and gossip that many readers believe, and the paparazzi and journalists will go far to get what they most desire: a good story.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, was born into royalty and reputation. From birth, he was seen as less of an importance than his brother, and as the spare– a point he stressed in his recent autobiography because he’s not the direct heir to the throne. It’s well known how Princess Diana, his mother, was treated by paparazzi. Many blame them for her death, as it’s believed they were chasing her in her car, which had not been a rare occurrence before her tragic accident. During her life she was primarily known for her charitable work and although this gave the public a more positive look on her, it never stopped negative perspectives. After his mother’s death, the tabloids’ focus now went onto Harry and William, two young boys grieving their beloved mother: the perfect story. From this point on and until the rest of his life, the media would follow and comment on everything he does.

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, was born in a quiet town in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in Hollywood meant she had access to private education and worked typical teenage jobs as a waitress and babysitter. Despite this seemingly privileged childhood, when her and Harry’s relationship went public, the media immediately began looking into her private life. Once they found out she was mixed, stories spread of her growing up in Compton, a city notorious for gang violence and wars, a city she had never been to. This bias continued and developed into unconcealed racist gossip on her and her family. It led to paparazzi harassing her parents and herself, crowding outside her home all day. This even happened to the point where the paparazzi paid the neighbors to set up live streaming cameras pointing at the house, allowing them to get photos of anything she was doing.

The main focus of the media recently has been on their Netflix documentary titled Harry and Meghan, as well as Harry’s autobiography, Spare. The documentary contains interviews of the couple narrating their story and showing how they’ve been directly affected by the media, and how this has affected their mental health and the overall health of their relationship. Spare is written from Harry’s perspective and is based on his whole life, from growing up royal, to joining the army, to meeting Meghan, and more. 

Home security was emphasized in the documentary, as the paparazzi were doing all they could to get photos of their houses and private lives. This was shown in episode 5 of the documentary, where the couple was living on Vancouver Island. However, when the media got a hold of their location, they began circling their house on boats with cameras attached to them. Some photographers rang the doorbell and tried breaking in. Unfortunately, this all happened at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and just as the Palace had decided to withdraw their security, because they had decided to step down from their initial royal duties. They ended up moving to a friend’s house where they managed to stay hidden for only a few weeks.

A controversy that was briefly mentioned in Spare regarded the letter Meghan wrote to her father that had been leaked. Thomas Markle was uninvited to Meghan’s royal wedding after he allowed paparazzi to pay him for staged photos. The situation overall created lots of tension and miscommunication in Meghan and her father’s relationship, and when she asked the Palace for advice, she was told to write him a letter. The letter was to be sent to a publicly unknown initial address before it was sent to Thomas to avoid public realization. Despite preparation, the letter was ultimately leaked by the Daily Mail. This led to headlines shaming Meghan for how unregal she was in what she said in the letter. Essentially, she was blamed for not acting like a royal even though, ironically, it was the Palace who told her to write the letter in the first place.

Regardless, it’s clear that the media, specifically the paparazzi and British tabloids, have greatly impacted Harry and Meghan’s personal and public life. Of course this is something to be expected as it’s the royal family. However, the extremity it has reached is quite absurd. Everyone relies on their jobs, but when that job starts to interfere with the invasion of someone’s privacy, it seems to become more than just a job. Many believe it’s just for money; rare photos get attention, and attention gets money. Nevertheless, if patterns continue, some think the media’s obsession with the couple may lead to a similar outcome as Diana.