You’d have thought the Queen of England had abdicated.
But the story that has gripped the British tabloids since an announcement in London Wednesday evening is merely news that the sixth in line to the British throne, Prince Harry, 35, and his wife Meghan Markle, are effectively resigning as senior members of the royal family and plan to become financially independent.
Scandal. Outrage. Intrigue. Plots. Treason. Even Oprah Winfrey is denying she played a part in the decision, which despite the wall-to-wall coverage, has no constitutional implications for Britain.
It’s top news, breaking news, 24-hour news. It’s Megxit!
It’s pushed arguably more important items, such as Britain has finally voted to leave the European Union on Jan. 31, and the downing of the Ukrainian airline by anti-aircraft fire in Tehran down the news bulletin.
Britain’s royal family is soft power with hard news value.
It gets massive ‘traffic’ and makes money.
The Daily Mail seems to have two newspapers: the main one with the Meghan and Harry story; the second with the rest of the news. The paper ran 17 pages on Meghan and Harry before it got to other stories. Another tabloid, Metro, had 10 pages on the Sussexes before running some sports’ news.
Even the liberal-leaning Guardian which at times seems reluctant to cover the royal family had four stories on the Harry and Meghan debacle on Friday, albeit midway down its site. Its top story was live updates on the= Iranian plane crash.
The notoriously hard-nosed, intrusive tabloid newspapers that remain a staple of British life seem almost puzzled that they are loathed by members of the royal family. I would wager that they are driven by outdoing each other, rather than actually reporting the story.
Leading the bunch is British journalist Piers Morgan whose latest tweet (at time of writing) was “How dare these two self-absorbed whining freeloaders treat the Queen like this? Who the hell do they think they are? Shameless & shameful.”
His article “Why the Queen must FIRE Their Royal Hustlers: Deluded Meghan and Harry should be stripped of their titles before this pair of grasping, selfish, scheming Kardashian-wannabes bring down the Monarchy,” has been shared 43,000 times and has 15,000 (unmoderated) comments (nobody in the newsroom would have time to moderate comments anyway).
He has never forgiven Meghan Markle after she ‘ghosted’ him when she started going out with Prince Harry in 2016. “I was discarded faster than a piece of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of her Louboutin heels.” (read: she didn’t need him as a social connection after she’d nabbed the prince).
He’s been so relentless in his criticism that on Friday, he was forced to deny he was racist. “My condemnation has everything to do with her being a shameless piece of work doing huge damage to our royal family,” Morgan wrote.
But the British tabloid press has a long history of aggressive reporting, if not outright bullying. If there’s no scandal, there’s no story. Before Meghan Markle, an American divorcee of mixed race joined the family in her May 2018 wedding to Harry, the tabloids fixated on the altogether more staid Catherine Middleton, known as the Duchess of Cambridge after she married Prince William.
For years, “Waity Katy” was slammed for being lazy, her dress sense, being too thin, and for waiting almost a decade for William to propose. (She’s now the “Driven Duchess” and a tabloid favorite).
Years before that, there was the glamorous Princess Michael of Kent, the Austrian aristocrat married to the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II; she was dubbed “Princess Pushy” by the tabloids.
The daughter of an SS official, Princess Michael of Kent was a divorced Catholic when she married Prince Michael in 1978, who has since “embarrassed the British Royal Family with (her) racist comments and gestures.”
Meghan Markle, or the Duchess of Sussex, may be the media personality of the moment but her star pales in comparison Princess Diana, perhaps the biggest media personalty ever, who’s attained almost goddess-like status in parts of the media since her death in 1997.
The trouble is the death of the “People’s Princess” in a car crash in a Paris tunnel is connected to the paparazzi.
Diana’s car may have crashed because her driver was drunk, but she was also “the most hunted person of the modern age” according to her brother Earl Spencer; her car was speeding to shake off the paparazzi.
A period followed when the media became less invasive in its coverage of the royal family, but that ended when William began dating Kate in 2003.
The tabloids are having a field day with the “royal abdication” but it may be a double-edged sword.
Harry and Meghan want to step back from the spotlight of the royal family due to the tabloids’ intrusive coverage. Last year, Prince Harry sued the Daily Mirror and The Sun, accusing them of hacking his phone and stealing voice messages.
A slimmed down royal family means less news, and if the hard-nosed reporting continues, angering British taxpayers who fund the royal family, Britain may find itself one day without a monarchy.