Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex, have attracted a great deal of media criticism ever since they married in 2018. Queen Elizabeth II’s unofficial motto is said to be “Never complain, never explain.” Her grandson and his wife take a different approach: always explain, always complain. Whether it’s via press releases, posts on their Instagram, or even lawsuits, they regularly respond to negative coverage.
Now, the couple has taken their “complaining and explaining” to the next level. On August 11, two journalists who cover the royals, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, published “Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family.” The title and gorgeous cover photo of the couple leave no doubt whose side this book is on.
Scobie and Durand deny that they interviewed Harry and Meghan directly, but clearly, they had the couple’s blessing. Ultimately, this is Harry and Meghan’s book. Ostensibly, “Finding Freedom” presents their version of “Megxit,” the media nickname for their dramatic departure from royal duties earlier this year.
It didn’t take long for “Finding Freedom” to draw comparisons to “Diana: Her True Story” by Andrew Morton. “Diana: Her True Story,” however, contained numerous genuine bombshells. Published in 1992, Morton’s book disclosed the unhappy state of Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles and led directly to the couple’s separation and subsequent divorce.
“Finding Freedom,” by contrast, mostly contains information that has already been published elsewhere. The only “revelations” are a few minor details. If you needed to know that during a vacation in Botswana while they were dating, Meghan “cleaned her face with baby wipes and happily wandered into the woodlands if she needed a bathroom break,” this book is for you.
Given how much negative coverage the couple received, no one can blame them for wanting to rehabilitate their image. It is unlikely, however, that this book will accomplish that aim. “Finding Freedom” is simply too one-sided, particularly on Meghan. The authors constantly lavish praise on her to an absurd degree.
Here are just a few examples: “Meghan was nothing if not a quick study.” “She was smart, independent, adventurous, optimistic, and beautiful.”
“Her success in the competitive world of show business, which had already started to open doors to opportunities of all kinds, was a product of the confidence, perseverance, and willingness to work harder than her peers that she had displayed since she was a little girl.”
Shakespeare’s King Lear declared, “I am a man more sinned against than sinning.” In “Finding Freedom,” Meghan is a woman who is not only sinned against, she is for all intents and purposes sinless — a woman who has apparently never made any bad decisions. Nothing is her fault. Anyone who didn’t welcome her with open arms was snobbish at best, racist at worse. The old guard at the palace wanted to take her down because “the danger to them is that Meghan is going to be bigger than Diana.”
Interestingly, Prince Harry does come in for some mild criticism. Above all, he seems to have an anger problem. The word “furious” is used several times to describe his reaction to intrusive media coverage (Meghan, by contrast, is only “crushed” in these instances).
“Finding Freedom” also assigns Harry some blame for the media storm that ensued over the private jets used by the couple. A member of his staff warned him not to take a private jet back to London after giving a speech on climate change at a Google event in Sicily. It would appear, however, that he ignored that excellent piece of advice.
Prince Harry and Meghan are polarizing figures, but “Finding Freedom” isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about them. To be sure, the book is a hit with their rabid online fan base, which calls itself #SussexSquad. Those are not the people who need to be convinced.
“Finding Freedom” fails to tackle the most trenchant criticism of the couple: that they are among the most undeniably privileged human beings on this planet yet they complain their royal lives were “unbearable.” The book may even add fuel to the fire by sharing details of their luxurious lifestyle, such as their three-day stay at George and Amal Clooney’s mansion in Italy.
If Harry and Meghan are serious about winning over some of the people who dislike them, they will need to find a better vehicle than “Finding Freedom.”