Today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex gave an interview to The Evening Standard in which they called for an end to 'structural racism' in the UK. One would think that was a fairly uncontroversial opinion. But find a tweet breaking the news and you'll see comments including 'concentrate on where you live', 'sounds like he has joined a cult', 'serious Amber Heard vibes from Meghan', and 'thought he f***ed off and left us.' It's another day, another outpouring of venom reminiscent of last week's row. Here's what we said then, as it still stands mere days later.
This morning, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle risked yet another backlash as they released a video calling for their American fans and supporters to go out and vote in the US election. Meghan has form in this - she said last month that those who don't vote are 'complicit' in a lack of change and continuing chaos - but it is the first time that the couple have teamed up in this way to explicitly encourage voting. They shied away from naming a candidate, but their calls to vote against hate was taken by many as an attack on Donald Trump. Inevitably, some have not taken this development very well. But let's face it: the couple have observed every criticism aimed at them, and discounted them with the actions that follow. If you have a problem with Harry and Meghan, then you are running out of acceptable reasons or motivations. At some point soon you are going to have to consider the possibility that they are not the problem.
Many argued that this presidential race does not concern the pair, despite the fact that Meghan will be voting, that Harry lives in California with his wife and young son, and that the choice made in November will have an indelible impact on them all.
Some suggest that it is against royal protocol to get involved in politics. Indeed, Harry himself acknowledges that he was not allowed to vote in the UK, and will not be able to do so in this US. But the couple are no longer bound by the strict regimens of royalty. We complained when they even hinted at political beliefs before. Some suggested that if they didn't want to play by the rules of the monarchy then they could just leave. When they agreed, and acquiesced, they're faced with new criticisms. They can't win.
Besides, popping their heads above the parapet to encourage people to vote, being very careful to resist naming any names, is actually no breach at all. In 2003, after a low turnout in the Welsh Assembly vote, The Queen herself intervened. 'It is vital to the health both of the United Kingdom and of Wales that our democratic institutions flourish and adapt,' she said in an address. 'I share your concerns that we must encourage all our people to exercise their right to vote. This is a real challenge now before us all.' Would critics have been satisfied if Harry and Meghan had simply repeated these words by rote? No, of course they wouldn't.
We complained that they weren't playing by the rules, then complained when they stopped playing the game. We complained when we didn't get an official photocall of Baby Archie, or indeed a blow-by-blow of his birth, then wondered why two young parents might be shying away from the venom-tinged spotlight. We vented when they left the country and abandoned a cottage that our taxes had paid for, then stewed when they paid it back in full. We were furious that they vowed to continue to use public funds for security in their new life, then got angry when they changed their minds and signed a lucrative Netflix deal. They have made us redundant, and we cannot take the rejection. We're lashing out at two people - two parents - who have jumped through every hoop we have laid out for them, and then decided that they'd be happier without us.
If you still harbour dislike toward Harry and Meghan, jumping up in outrage every time they close their own car doors, raise money for charity, seem to snub a member of their family, then that is up to you. But it would also be worth looking inward at why. Do you truly judge them for their actions, even when those actions follow similar behaviours by other members of the royal family and, of course, when certain members of said family stand accused of far, far worse acts? Or are you indulging innate ill-meaning toward them for other reasons? Is it because Meghan is beautiful? A woman? Divorced? Black? Is it because Harry simply isn't as obliging as his brother? Or that, in leaving, he turned his back on what we see as his late mother's philanthropic legacy? Do you just get a bad vibe? Do you get the feeling she's not a very nice person? Or do we all just need something to be angry at, and they are easy, obvious targets?
Harry and Meghan are trying to make the world a better place. There is no ulterior motive in asking people to vote. They do not receive a tax break or a medal from the next President of the United States. They're not perfect, of course. But it's time to accept that they are thoroughly undeserving of the bile set their way. In leaving the royal family, they have dotted every i and crossed every t. They have heard our voices, and acted accordingly. When push comes to shove, we just can't handle that they don't need us anymore. We need to get over it.