This was going to be a very positive column about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.
I’ve not exactly been the couple’s biggest fan over the past year, but I believe in giving credit where it’s due and their tour of South Africa has been an unqualified success.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex haven’t put a foot wrong as they’ve toured the country shining an important light on many issues from gender violence to poverty and education.
They’ve both seemed more relaxed and happy than they’ve appeared for a long time, even dancing for the cameras in front of cheering crowds.
I was going to say this tour marked a significant and much-needed turning point in the relentless stream of negativity that’s poured on Harry and Meghan’s heads over the past few months.
And I would not have been alone.
They’ve had nothing but praise from the same media that’s been lambasting them, and it’s been entirely justified.
They’ve behaved like royals should behave – with dignity, grace, good humour and empathy.
They’ve also avoided being overtly political, sticking instead to speaking un-controversially about issues where everyone can pretty much agree – like equality, conservation etc.
You might ask why they feel so much more comfortable abroad than at home but that was the generous column I planned to write.
Then came the announcement that they’re suing the Mail on Sunday over a letter that Meghan wrote to her father that he gave to the paper to publish.
That alone wouldn’t have irritated me.
They are perfectly entitled to feel aggrieved at the publication of such a private letter, just as the paper is perfectly entitled to defend itself on the grounds of public interest.
I imagine their defence will be that Meghan’s father Thomas should be allowed to share correspondence with his daughter given she had previously allowed friends to criticise him in America’s top-selling People magazine.
And, full disclosure, I also write a column for that paper.
But that is a legal battle, and the courts will decide its merits.
What did irritate me was the hysterically over-the-top statement that the Sussexes decided to release to accompany their lawsuit.
It is honestly one of the most extraordinary rants I’ve ever read from anyone in the Royal Family, and one of the most inexplicable.
Why would they do this right when they have enjoyed a week of universal acclaim?
Why declare war on the press who’ve just spent seven days saying great things about them?
Why petrol-bomb glowingly positive end-of-tour reports with a furnace of negative fury?
Not for the first time, I don’t understand what the hell Harry and Meghan are thinking.
Particularly as we swiftly learned that they didn’t tell anyone at Buckingham Palace about it.
This seems like another catastrophic PR failure to me, one that has ruined all the good work they’ve done to rebuild their battered image after a long period of sustained criticism.
And let’s be brutally frank: they’ve brought most of that criticism on themselves.
Their constant hypocritical preaching over things like the environment has rightly grated with people.
You can’t lecture us that ‘every footprint counts’ then jump on private jets every two minutes.
You can’t get the public to pay £2.4 million ($2.9 million) to refurbish your luxury (free!) home then refuse to let them take photos of you at Wimbledon.
You can’t throw decadent $500,000 baby showers in New York with your celebrity mates, and blag a lift home on the Clooneys’ plane, then tweet at the exact same time about the urgent need to combat poverty.
You can’t enjoy all the global fame and attention from a royal wedding then refuse to share basic details, or photos, of your baby when he was born.
That’s not how being a royal works.
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Source: Daily Mail