Angela Mollard: Meghan and Harry playing future series of The Crown
I have a theory about Meghan Markle. If you remember, she went on a blind date with Prince Harry back in July 2016, four months before the first series of The Crown was released.
By the time the second series broadcast a year later she was madly in love with the prince, had just announced their engagement and doubtless had heeded instructions from Buckingham Palace not to watch the “tittle tattle” Netflix series.
By the time the third season of the hit show came out in November 2019, the former Suits actress had married her bloke, given birth to their son and knocked off a tour to Africa which had ended with her reflecting that life was “hard” and that it wasn’t enough simply to survive; that the point of life was to thrive.
Weeks later the family decamped to Canada and I suspect it is there that the Duchess finally binge-watched all three seasons of The Crown, far away from the prying eyes of palace courtiers.
As the series chronicled the cruel sanctioning of Princess Margaret’s marriage plans, the Queen’s odd relationship with her children, the plot to prevent Prince Charles marrying Camilla and the newspapers’ breathless reporting of every titbit, I’m sure the astounded Meghan turned to Harry and demanded to know what he’d duped her into.
To be fair, she should’ve done her due diligence. Long before The Crown it was clear that Windsor women fell into two camps: the dutiful and the denigrated.
While the Queen firmly embodies the first, the rest are cast into the second and thus Princess Margaret is positioned as drunk and unhinged, Princess Anne as cold and strident and Camilla as immoral and problematic.
Meghan didn’t need to see how her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, would be portrayed in the fourth season to know she wanted out.
And so a year after she exited the most famous family on the planet, and one only marginally less dysfunctional than her own, it’s no surprise that the Duchess of Sussex is dumping the actual Queen and conscripting the self-styled Queen of America, Oprah Winfrey, to steer her narrative.
This has enraged the locked-down Brits who regard her two-finger salute to their monarch and her snow-sodden little isle as an act of treason even though they bought into the media machinations which effectively drove her away.
So what are we to make of it down here in our Commonwealth outpost? Do we continue to nail our colours to Team Liz and her tampon-fantasising heir or do we back the progressive, bi-racial, self-made Team Meg even if her wellness psychobabble is a tad nauseating?
I’m not deciding until I’ve seen Megan and her plus one take to Oprah’s couch on March 7.
When it comes to public relations, the Duchess makes Princess Diana look like an amateur what with her orchestrated triple threat delivered in a matter of days.
It takes some scheming to win a high court privacy judgment, announce a pregnancy complete with artful photograph, and sign an exclusive interview deal with the world’s most acclaimed talk show host in the time it takes the rest of us to put out the bins.
Since she’s up the duff, you have to conclude she’s not even fuelled by vegan lattes although revenge, as Diana’s Panorama interview attests, has long proved an excellent propellent.
Of course the Brits are finger-wagging from their plastic-covered lounges about how the sit-down interview failed to serve Diana, Prince Charles and, more recently, Prince Andrew but they forget that Meghan is trained for this medium.
While their royal highnesses were poncing round shooting things, cutting ribbons and bonking inappropriate paramours, Meghan was perfecting a trade which would unwittingly prepare her for this moment.
The Duchess of Cambridge may do cute children and worthy Zoom calls but it’s Meghan who can deliver the facial expressions, pregnant pauses, and eyes-pooling-with-tears gaze that will make the Oprah interview the greatest must-watch since Tom Cruise nearly broke her couch.
The talk show host has previously revealed how before every interview she asks her subject what their intention is.
Meghan’s is clearly to win American adulation and seize the podium left vacant by Michelle Obama. And Harry, who will only join his wife for the second half of the chat? Well, that’s anybody’s guess.
What may be possible — and which few seem to have considered — is that the stateside Sussexes may bring diversity to the homogeneous royal brand in much the way streaming services have enlivened television.
Like a modernised Disney princess, Meghan may turn out to be the Merida or the Mulan to Kate, Beatrice and Eugenie’s Cinderella, Ariel and Aurora.
The Queen, at 94, has endured plenty of family scandal and is more cognisant than most that it was her Uncle Ed’s shenanigans which put her on the throne.
As long as her grandson and his wife are respectful she has great capacity to respect their choices and, therefore, so should we.
At the very least, until George, Charlotte and Archie start falling out of nightclubs, Meghan and her man are providing fodder for future series of The Crown.
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Originally published as Meghan and Harry playing future series of The Crown