The 360 shows you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.
A new documentary chronicling the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal tour of Africa and subsequent fall out with the British media is dividing opinions online. In Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle spoke candidly to reporter and friend Tom Bradby about the intense media coverage surrounding their relationship.
The ITV special was released on the heels of news that the royals had launched multiple lawsuits against British tabloids for “ruthless campaigns” against the Duchess.
“I will alway protect my family, and now I have a family protect,” Prince Harry said of his decision to take legal action against the press.
“Part of the job, and part of any job like everybody is putting on a brave face, and turning a cheek to a lot of this stuff. But again for me and for my wife, of course there’s a lot of stuff that hurts - especially when a majority of it is untrue. What we need to do is focus on being real and focus on being the people that we are and standing up for what we believe in,” he added. “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mom.”
In the ITV documentary, an emotional Markle spoke for the first time publicly about the media scrutiny surrounding her family, race and relationship with Prince Harry and the difficulty adjusting to a life in the public eye.
“I had no idea. Which probably sounds difficult to understand here,” the Duchess said. “When I first met my now husband my friends were really happy because I was so happy. But my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great, but you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life.’ And I very naively - I’m American we don’t have that there... I didn’t get it. It’s been complicated.”
“I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried but I think what that does internally is probably really damaging,” she admitted. “The biggest thing I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair and that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile.”
According to CNN, a royal separate source revealed that the Sussexes will continue public engagements until mid-November, after which they will take some “family time.”
The royal reaction
While no official statement has been issued from Buckingham Palace or any member of the royal family, Robert Jobson, royal editor for the Evening Standard, wrote that senior aides were “baffled and infuriated” by the Sussex’s comments.
Jobson reported that a source close to the Palace said “this move has certainly overshadowed the Pakistan visit and what has been achieved here during the last few days, as well as a lot of work by an awful lot of dedicated people here on the ground as well as back home for months.
What others are saying
Online, the support for the Sussexes has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have praised the couple for being open and honest about the realities of living as a public figure, demystifying the illusion that their fairytale wedding led to them living happily ever after.
“People can be famous and struggle. People can seem to have the perfect life and struggle. This idea you know precisely what others are feeling just by looking at them is the basis of stigma. It stops others asking for help out of fear of mockery. It is bullying. This is bullying.” - Matt Haig, author
“It’s uncomfortable because it draws us in to the soap opera, not as a viewer but as a participant. Blame for Diana’s death may have been laid at the feet of the media, but the uncomfortable truth is it was us who had an appetite for the stories. Watching Meghan, more than any other public figure, we are forced to consider what we expect from our celebrities and our media and how we, the audience, might contribute to the plot line.” - Joanna York, Huffington Post
“I so admire Meghan Markle for being honest, open and vulnerable about the struggles she’s faced as a new mother and a very public figure.” - Katie Couric, journalist
“Sudden prominence is a very dehumanizing experience. There’s a part of your life that you lose, and later it dawns on you that you’ll never get it back. The people who treat you like a human make all the difference.” - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district
“This is incredibly important We must remember that it’s a sign of strength to show emotion. Meghan, we are with you.” - Kamala Harris, United States Senator from California
“Even with the support of a loving husband—which Diana never had—Meghan is cracking, and it doesn’t surprise me. She was a young, talented, independent American career woman suddenly thrust into this position where she has to really toe the royal line. Her privacy is gone. Her ability to control her own life is gone. This, in turn, is having a devastating impact on the man who loves her but really is fairly powerless to do anything about their predicament.” - Christopher Anderson, author of “Diana’s Boys”
However, some members of the media have questioned whether or not the documentary was a good strategy for the couple, with some doubling down on their dislike for the Duke and Duchess.
“I think they must have good PR people, and I have a feeling that they’re not actually listening to them. Nobody would suggest they start the ‘Oh poor me.’ Obviously, be open but there are ways and ways of doing it. When you come back from a hugely successful tour, they must have known that the whole media narrative was going to switch to the interview with Tom [Bradby]. We’ve already seen how damaging the interviews that the Prince of Wales and Diana gave to Martin Brashir and [Jonathan] Dimbleby... that did terrible things for both of their reputations. They would do well to listen to good PR people rather than ignore them.” - Sally Jones, journalist
“If you can bear witness to all of that misery and still stand in front of a camera, biting your lip or with a tear in your eye, as you complain that behind the ramparts your life is tough, then you are tone deaf to the concerns of real people and blind as to how you are perceived.” - Jan Moir, The Daily Mail
“I think the birth of [Archie] has triggered the old trauma that is probably unresolved... [Harry] keeps going on about the safety of his family. For me, he keeps conflating his mother’s death with the safety of his family, which in my mind isn’t completely rational but I understand it. He has to understand that there are two types of media. The media on the tour with him have been invited...we’re there to help them, they’re there to help us and I think that’s been a bit lacking in the relationship with Harry and Meghan.” - Jane Moore, Journalist
“Imagine being two staggeringly privileged royal multi-millionaires going to Africa to make a documentary that supposedly ‘shines a light’ on poverty, violence against women, girls and racial inequality - then in fact making it all about their own struggle? I mean, FFS.” - Piers Morgan, journalist