Oprah Interview Proves Harry And Meghan Are Boring

Oprah Interview Proves Harry And Meghan Are Boring

The interview was loaded with apparent revelations. But there's absolutely no way around the he-said-she-said dynamic that characterizes this conflict.
Emily Jashinsky
By

Regardless of how many sit-down interviews they grant or how real their reality show gets, we’re destined to observe the royal family from afar. Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which aired Sunday night, ostensibly peeled back the curtain on their troubled relationship with the House of Windsor.

Of course, we don’t actually know that it did anything of the sort. The newly minted Californians coordinated the primetime special to tell their side of the story. That’s how this goes. According to Harry and Meghan, who left their roles as senior members of the royal family, they did “everything [they] could to make it work.” The queen may have a different take. (Although we likely won’t hear it in a splashy TV interview.)

Markle told Oprah she’d experienced “suicidal thoughts,” explaining, “I went to the institution and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help…and I was told that I couldn’t.”

“I went to one of the most senior people to get help. I was told I couldn’t because it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” said Markle.

The couple said they felt “trapped” as royals. Meghan said she begged unsuccessfully for Harry’s security to remain. Harry said his family “literally” cut him off, and he’s living on money left by his mother.

In reference to rumors swirling around her wedding, Markle claimed it was actually Kate Middleton who made her cry, despite reports to the contrary. Harry said his relationship with Prince William involves “space at the moment.”

They were married in a private ceremony three days before their public wedding. They’re now expecting a baby girl in the summer, but want only two children. Floating a huge allegation, Markle said before the birth of her son there were internal “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

The interview was loaded with apparent revelations. But there’s absolutely no way around the he-said-she-said dynamic that characterizes this conflict.

The crown wants to protect itself. Harry and Meghan want to protect themselves as well. Given the necessarily public nature of their spat, both sides must now manipulate the media in their favor to succeed. Whether you love Markle or hate her, what you’re seeing is a curated media character striving to achieve an illusion of authenticity.

I confess to being viscerally irritated by Americans’ palace intrigue over the royal family. Women project onto royals because their privilege makes it seem okay, so controversial royals are incredible gossip fodder, like homecoming queens and trust-fund princesses. British tabloids are a different beast, but it seems inevitable that Markle’s admitted struggles with fame-induced mental health problems will spark comparisons with Britney Spears.

For the public, it seems like a trade-off. Markle and Spears get fame and money, so we get to joke when they gain ten pounds or have an off day. We get to speculate about their family drama and they get to jet set. Is it fair? Tabloid culture is certainly a response to demand. Demand is not always or even often broadly moral.

Markle is notoriously sanctimonious. She lectures the world from her position of immense power and privilege. She has the vapid politics of a Zinn-chugging liberal arts graduate. Depending on which rumors you believe, she’s not very nice either. But who knows what’s real in a battle for the narrative? It’s not possible, so you might as well just stop investing in the fight.

At play here are deep international dynamics, the trading of literal royalty for America’s decadent version of it in Hollywood. Emotive millennials pointedly bucking their conservative family’s tradition of stoicism, swapping dignified roles and their inevitable constraints for self-indulgence.

We’re all projecting a lot onto this couple. The comment that struck me most was Harry’s claim his family is “scared” of British tabloids and acts accordingly. Powerful people being scared of the free press? What an incredible concept.

Here in the states, where Harry and Meghan have chosen to make their home, reality star Bethenny Frankel deleted a critical tweet that read, “Cry me a river…the plight of being a game show host, fairly unknown actress, to suffering in a palace, w tiaras & 7 figure weddings for TWO WHOLE YEARS to being a household name w @Oprah on speed dial, fetching 7 m for interviews, hundreds of millions in media deals.” For a couple with the world at their fingertips, it’s true that Harry and Meghan do a lot of whining.

After blowback from users and outlets like TMZ, Frankel deleted the tweet and added, “I watched M & H sit down. Emotional distress & racism must feel suffocating & powerless. I’m a polarizing, unfiltered(often to a fault)flawed person w a voice. When I heard of the interview, during a pandemic, it felt like a surprising choice. I’m sorry if it hurt or offended you.”

American tabloids defend rich and powerful celebrities as long as they cloak themselves in vague wokeness. That makes California a much warmer home for Harry and Meghan for reasons beyond the weather. Here, they can have their cake and eat it too.

For all our personal and cultural projections onto the couple, “Harry and Meghan” is always just our interpretation of the family’s media tug-of-war. We have little access to the reality at hand, which is carefully clouded by the resources of enormously powerful people. Why bother squinting?

Don Draper said it best. Love her or hate her, the best approach to Meghan Markle is simply not to think about her at all.

Emily Jashinsky is culture editor at The Federalist. You can follow her on Twitter @emilyjashinsky .

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