On May 22nd 2018, three days after more than one billion people watched a real life fairytale come true when Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, one story dominated headlines.
Her tights. (Emmeline Pankhurst must have been rolling over in her grave.)
Stepping out onto the vast, verdant expanse of lawn behind Buckingham Palace on a sparkling spring day, the spiffy new Duke and Duchess of Sussex embarked on their first official outing. The occasion was a garden party to make Prince Charles’ 70th birthday with some 6,000 representatives from charities associated with the royal stuffing themselves with fruit scones and finger sandwiches.
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As Meghan descended the palace steps, wearing a heavenly pale pink frock and Philip Treacy hat, the world’s royal watchers could not help but notice her tights, which slightly too pale a shade.
Beyond the tone, the fact she was wearing them was read as a symbolic capitulation to the exigencies of HRH life, a harbinger of sorts as to how the avowed feminist and passionate equality advocate was going to navigate the demands of royalty.
However now a new book, out today, has alleged that a far more, genuinely scandalous event occurred during the grand occasion.
Today, Lady Colin Campbell’s hotly-anticipated Meghan and Harry: The Real Story was released. For weeks, the Jamaican-born Lady Colin (who is an I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here alumnae) has been touting her forthcoming work, promising that she would reveal something that happened at Charles’ shindig that left her “absolutely gobsmacked and astonished.”
According to the 70-year-old biographer, she found out about The Event only days after the garden party when she was attending a dinner party with “a scion of the aristocracy with impeccable palace connections.”
Lady Colin writes that Harry and Meghan: “plunged in, gladhanding those who had been selected for introductions. She charmed everyone. Fifteen minutes into the event, she turned to Harry and said, ‘Harry, this is really boring. Let’s leave.’ To his credit, he informed her that they would have to stay. ‘But Harry,’ she said, ‘this is so boring. We’ve done our bit. Everyone knows we’ve been here. Let’s go.’ Harry asserted that they had to stay, and they moved on.”
Reflecting on the alleged incident, the scion then commented to Lady Colin: “She thinks life is a photo op.”
If true, it is a highly damaging revelation about the duchess whose arrival on the British scene was met with excitement by the vast proportion of a thrilled population, and in some snobbier circles, raised eyebrows.
Let’s keep in mind here Lady Colin’s pedigree. In 1992 she published Diana In Private: The Princess Nobody knows which was the first biography to air claims that the royal had bulimia and that she had an affair with James Hewitt. While her claims were rubbished at the time, those two points were later borne out to be true. In the decades since then, Lady Colin has made a name for herself as a reality TV contestant and starred in a documentary called Lady C and The Castle. Last year, Lady Colin sparked outrage after going on TV to defend Prince Andrew and said that while she was not defending Jeffrey Epstein, “there’s a difference between a minor and a child.”
But back to the garden party and Meghan’s alleged boredom. The publication of Lady Colin’s book and her revelation of this alleged moment will only confirm what the duchess’ detractors have argued- that the former actor and entrepreneur is more interested in being seen than putting in the hard, dull graft required of royalty.
And dull it unequivocally is. (Tina Brown, writing about Princess Diana in 1985 said, “It is hard to over-estimate the boredom of the royal schedule she has to endure.”)
For all the diamonds, the glittering tiaras and cavernous palaces, the actual 9-5 of being a working member of the royal family is a lot of repetitive labour, all conducted while vigilantly policing what one says and does. (And that is before we have even gotten to the scrutiny, the constant, carping criticism of social media and chuntering commentators, and the dorgis nipping at your ankles.)
Given the incredible poise and passion that Meghan has shown elsewhere, it is worth taking this story with a grain of salt. (Likewise, given the Sussexes’ litigiousness, how they may respond.)
However this anecdote does raise a legitimate question. Whether Megan uttered the ‘B’ word or not, did Harry do enough to prepare her for the inherent ennui and profound tedium of royal duty? Just how well briefed had she been about the vicissitudes and demands of royal life and the attendant pressures before slipping that diamond ring on her left hand?
Months of planning went into Harry and Megan’s wedding – would things have panned out differently if more time had gone into truly prepping Meghan for what lay ahead?
The now-duchess has only lived in Kensington palace for a couple of months at most when Harry popped the question and they wed five months later. When Megan stepped on the Buckingham Palace lawn that day she had only had the briefest of royal apprenticeships. (Contrast that with the nine years Kate had and the six years Sophie Wessex, Prince Edward’s wife had.)
Now with the Sussexes embarking on their new LA life, with the couple marking their first official real world engagement overnight week visiting an organisation that helps former gang members, their first US charity outing, it is now Harry’s turn to have to acclimate to a brave new world. The responsibility now falls on Meghan to help Harry navigate a new city, a new career and a totally new identity. Hopefully she will do a far better job.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
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