Tuesday tremors: Majesty and the mess

(picture credit : @eleema.masci_illustrations)

I’m glad the queue to see Queen Elizabeth ll lying in state was public and not a ballot system with people having allocated times to attend.

By being public the world got to see the hundreds of thousands of people prepared to wait day and night to pay their respects. As one barrister friend put it; It was a living, moving display of the love and respect for the Queen.

I’m glad many more thousands lined the roads from Scotland to London to Windsor to see the hearse pass by.  A friend admitted that the scenes of the enormous crowds, waiting patiently for a last glimpse of the Queen, had brought him to tears.

I’m glad the BBC put out official ratings figures for their news broadcast on the day the death of the Queen was announced (33 million) and also the ratings for her funeral -37.5 million -The largest in television history for any broadcast.

 (And this did not include people viewing on other platforms).

Worldwide the figure was between 4.5-5 billion viewers.

I’m glad so many people across social media posted their own photographs and videos of the huge crowds around them during this period.

I’m glad I got to see the flowers outside Buckingham Palace on the day after her death, before they were removed to Green Park and saw that they were waist deep in some sections.

I’m glad that the long walk at Windsor was packed on the day of the funeral and a large screen had to be arranged at an overflow park to accommodate the thousands who couldn’t get in. And that when a young woman stood up, in front of the screen showing the broadcast, turned to everyone sitting on the grass and said “Stand for her! She’s arrived” as the Queen’s coffin arrived at St George’s chapel – that every single person stood up instantly. 

Why am I glad I got to see so much of this in person? 

Because if we had not seen it all with our own eyes, I’m not sure we would have been given the full picture by the media and ’royal commentators’.  I’m increasingly sceptical about the way Royal stories are reported. Like many people I’m increasingly wary of the mainstream media, period. ‘Views not news’ seems to be the mantra.

Royal reporting has its own peculiarities. Pay it close attention and you spot personal bias and an underlying hostility towards monarchy.

Credit where it’s due, though. What I saw of the BBC coverage of the Queen’s death and funeral was excellent. Similarly, the special colour supplements from all the newspapers were impressive. But, I expect that much of the content of both was prepared years in advance, by old school journalists.

Much of what is written and produced currently is by contributors who treat the outlet they work for as little more than an extension of their personal social media account ie a place for half baked, faddy ideologies and personal likes and dislikes.

Harry and Meghan Markle 

During the death/funeral period, at a time when the world’s eyes were on Britain, its history, the majesty and mystique of monarchy and the most famous woman in the world over 70 years, some royal reporters, unbelievably, were obsessing about:

What Harry would wear. When Harry was told of the death. When King Charles would forget about his grief, his new responsibilities, hosting 200 heads of state, travelling the length and breadth of the country and meeting the public and just focus on ……. er, Harry’s two, largely unknown, unseen kids! 

It was extraordinary that these issues, which few give a flying fig about, exercised the minds of some reporters at such an historic time.

The many people I spoke to throughout the death/funeral period were not interested in this slant on events.

  • They have no emotional investment in the unknown kids. 
  • They loathe Meghan Markle. They’d lined the streets for this actress with zero acclaim from her profession. They’d celebrated her laughable virginal white, wedding, kindly shrugging off that she was a divorcee with a ‘busy’ past and older than Prince William and Catherine. For that goodwill they’ve had three years of malodorous accusations from her. Accusations for which she never provides a shred of evidence. Vague, contradictory, nonsensical accusations which, when they’re refuted with video evidence, she simply changes.
  • They’ve lost patience with Harry. They’ve seen him through his yob years. Tried to see his recent behaviour as that of a dim, sheltered Prince caught up in a whirlwind with a streetwise older woman. But they’ve also seen him go from a slack jawed, dead eyed  sidekick to Markle while she attacks his family to a mean attacker himself, parroting her allegations.

Of all the stories written about the first horrible betrayal on Oprah, one stands out; that the night it was aired, reportedly, the Queen chose not to watch it but to go to bed instead. There is something inexpressibly sad about the elderly head of state going to bed to avoid the pain of seeing the minor celebrity she had given a £33 million white wedding, a title, a palace to live in and a global platform to, shit on her family and life’s work. Even worse that this was with the cooperation of her grandson. It’s worth watching the last 20 seconds or so of that programme, during the closing credits. The pair, seemingly unaware the cameras are still on them, look at each other and burst out giggling, as if they’ve done their job. It’s quite chilling.

Why any reporter would think that such a grandson should be the focus of their stories upon the death of the Queen is mind boggling. 

Ultimately though, Oprah proved to be a massive PR blunder for the pair. It marked them as spiteful and sneaky – anathema to A list Hollywood and powerful America which needs discretion. It turned many, previously sympathetic people off. And it’s been a shaky, tawdry foundation for everything since.  Every new interview, podcast, reality series is just the same rehashed jabberwocky.

At this point, the pair have much become human jabberwocky:

  • They claim they want to ‘uplift and inspire’ audiences but use every platform they’re given to air grievances against the Royal family. They’ve now used every possible medium to ‘tell their (non) story, save that of interpretative dance. And I fear that’s on its way.
  • They whine endlessly about how ‘unsurvivable’ palace life was but seek a half in, half out arrangement – presumably because royal life is only unsurvivable every other Wednesday, between 2 and 6pm. 
  • They lecture the little people about egalitarianism while brandishing his royal titles at every opportunity to the point they may as well have them tattooed on their faces.
  • They preach kindness while blighting the dying months of the Queen and Prince Philip, the new reign of his 74 year old father and the family life of his brother. 

The list of absurdities is as long as it is tiresome. 

The problem (one of the many) for the pair is that they are floundering in a neverland of his second tier royalty and her minor celebrity. 

He’s now a Prince without a palace or country – like those titled men you meet in bars in South Kensington on a Friday night who never pick up the tab. 

She’s still the minor celebrity she was before meeting him but now with name recognition which means more people know when her projects fail.

Together, they’re not attractive or sexy enough to be a new Brad and Angelina. They don’t have the aspirational appeal of the Beckhams. The glamour of a Bennifer. Or the power of the Obamas. Most of all, they don’t have the regal allure, titles and future throne of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

And therein, many suspect, lies the root of their malice and misery. Their whole vengeful spiel is one long howl of envious ‘it should have been me.’

All the studied mockery of traditions and claims to dislike hierarchy, are the primal cries of two people born and destined to be second. He the eternal appendage, she the eternal chorus girl.

The American adventure was meant to put them on a par with The Prince and Princess of Wales by making them billionaire Californian ‘royals’. But that dream has gone belly up. The good and great (and the executives at Netflix et al) want kings and queens, palaces and pomp, monarchy and majesty, not the supporting actress from Suits and the Prince who is discovering that it’s one thing to want to be ordinary when you’re inside the palace and another to suddenly find that you really are. 

His supporters among the royal correspondents and commentators like to suggest that Harry doesn’t care about royalty or hierarchy. They clearly haven’t listened to his interviews or watched him on solo engagements over the years. There is no one more acutely (and resentfully) aware of his royal status and his position in the hierarchy than Harry.

So, when H+M disrespect an aspect of royalty or tradition it comes across, not as genuine rebelliousness but a desperate cry for validation of the bad decisions they’ve made which  have lost them (especially him) so much. The validation isn’t often forthcoming. For all the restrictions of royalty, few can truly believe that going from palaces and a global platform to hustling for podcasts and reality shows is what they really wanted. Based on their own early press releases, they didn’t really wish to leave the  royal life. The plan was to cherry pick Royal appearances, then go Kardashianise a 1000 year old institution in the USA for millions and lord it over a Hollywood and big brands which had previously said thanks but no thanks.

It’s no wonder that in the light of mockery of Harry’s new book, the pair’s most sycophantic supporters are currently all over the media slyly calling for the monarchy to be magnanimous. ”Invite the pair to the coronation,” they say, “give them a role representing the crown overseas….”In short, please let them back in because it’s brutal out there when you have nothing to offer but his royal family.

Spare: I’ve had the misfortune to read this book – or as much of it as I could stomach. I could only get through so much before deciding that life is too short to waste on 50 shades of shit.

The word that kept coming into my mind was ‘insult’. 

The book is an insult to the Royals and history. But it’s a huge insult, too, to  its readers. It’s an insult to the reader’s own recollection of recent history. And by recent history I don’t just mean the Charles and Diana years, the William and Kate wedding or Harry’s youth. I mean the Oprah mess just two years ago, the interviews/podcasts/reality show just two months ago. Heck, even his last comment two minutes ago which contradicts what he’s saying now! Never have two people changed their stories as much as this pair do.

Like the previous book that they cooperated with (having initially denied it), Spare too is essentially two middle-aged toddlers doing a particularly messy and stinky poo in public.