The Harry-Meghan documentary clarified a lot for me.
You may or may not know that I had a 30+ year career in public relations, much of it involving high profile people or public companies seeking positive media coverage. And attempting to avoid negative coverage.
I ran my practice ethically, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t see how deals were made, stories were planted, audiences were manipulated. How truth wasn’t necessarily important if it could damage “the cause.” Lies were ok if the ends were gained. Well, they called it “stretching the truth.” Or “a different interpretation of the facts.”
Today, they’d be called “alternative facts.” Same thing: The end justified the means. I saw it all. People lost jobs. Big deals happened or didn’t happen based on the work of a PR machine. Stock rose and fell. This is the way it works. The way public opinion is manipulated. Every day. Without us, the public, being any wiser.
You might think you know this. But I can assure you that you do not know the depths of it. Not unless you were on the inside. As I was.
Backstage at the Palace….
Audiences read stuff and assume it’s true, but it might not be. And if it involves high profile people with lots to lose, there’s a PR machine at work making sure you see it their way. As a member of that club, it was my job to know a lot about how that works. It still works that way. And it works that way backstage at the Palace.
That knowledge of how it works is the filter through which I view news. Usually. Of course, like many of us, I have consumed the British tabloid, Daily “Fail” online, knowing full well that its’ like candy for the brain: Oh-so-pleasurable to consume but oh-so-bad for us. I have been guilty of reading it online without pausing to think critically and of course, my views only naturally were skewed.
You eat enough candy and you crave it. You love it. You believe in it.
The Harry-Meghan documentary: having their say
I thought I was watching the Harry-Meghan documentary out of interest in human behavior and also because I am an Anglophile, having read quite a bit of royal history, both ancient and current. I follow some British writers, both historical and not–even one mean-spirited woman who married into the peerage and leveraged that into toxic celebrityhood. As our tour guide in Britain told me as we dished in the car last month, “Oh, my friend knows her, she is wacko!”
Suspending judgment, I watched the first episodes of the Harry-Meghan documentary with interest. Then, I came to Episode 5. I watched with increasing horror and then, tears.
Because the entire PR plan against this young couple became clear to me, a lifetime PR professional. The gaslighting.
How the common technique of trading stories about one principle so another story unfavorable to a different principle would be dropped was in full force. I couldn’t believe I’d not thought it through before. That I’d let myself be manipulated, when I knew full well how this PR “horse trading” worked.
Take, for example, the little story that faded fast about the alleged affair Prince William had with Kate’s “best friend”. The bestie she all of a sudden no longer speaks to after years of being thick as thieves. That’s pretty juicy tabloid fare and, true or not, it should have been kept alive for months. A big story, not a little one. Perfect clickbait.
But…it wasn’t. It disappeared pretty quickly.
But look at the Daily “Fail “any day and you’ll see 5, 6 or 7 horrible stories about H&M. Hmmm.
This is a straight-out trade. It just is.
Making it go away. Or at least fade away.
Think also about Andrew. Yes, he had his share of bad press, but not anywhere near as much as this young couple who did not commit crimes. That toxic celebrity peer I told you about spouts bile about H&M online several days a week with a HUGE following of sycophants who also hate Meghan, and I mean real bile about Harry and Meghan, while protesting Andrew’s innocence and shouting that a key victim, Virginia G. was lying about being forced to have sex with him.
Now, if you are a thinking human, you know that young woman wasn’t lying. You also know that she became “confused” about her charges against Allen Dershowitz because she got a huge settlement. I don’t fault her for that or for the one she took from Andrew. But those crimes happened. And yet, those stories fade away. It’s a trade. Andrew press coverage is going…going..gone. Harry and Meghan attacks increase and increase. It’s a trade.
Harry points out in the documentary that he and his brother both disapproved of the practice and when their offices merged, vowed they would not trade one bad story for another. Then, their offices split. And the future king began the practice again in his independent press office. Or let’s say he let it happen.
Money talks. Always. And literally.
Meghan’s father has admitted to other press he’s made made money off of staged photos for the press. and that horrible stepsister has said publicly that she’s sold interviews to British tabloids. That even clearer in Episode 5 of the documentary. Now, I can’t say enough about the evil stepsister. Truly an awful person, selling exaggerations and even what sound like straight up lies to tabloid press. And Tom Markle, who has been manipulated by tabloids from the start and allegedly has the bank account to assuage any guilt he might feel.
How would you feel, if this were your family?
Let’s remember that Charles is a new king. That some of his subjects still look on his behavior toward Diana with jaundiced eye. He absolutely needs public approval to keep the monarchy going. And the courtiers, the institution of the monarchy, are in survival mode. They’ll do what they’ve always done: like, cheat, steal and horse trade to keep the institution going.
Have we forgotten Diana? She was a flawed woman but she was also not wrong about the campaign against her. Not wrong at all. Have we forgotten how petulantly irritated Charles was that the public wanted more of her and less of him? That certainly wasn’t going to do. He should’ve been the star. So. A bunch of negative stories about Diana, true or not, would help dull the shine of her star, thought the palace courtiers, as they told stories to the press that should’ve been kept in the family. The goal was to make sure the institution of the monarch wasn’t damaged. Survival of the institution.
A word about the Queen
She does not own the rights to the name “Lilibet.” I think it was charming that their daughter now carries both grandmothers’ names. All that crap about how they didn’t get the Queen’s permission was total BS. Oh and another word:
We’ve seen a lot in the tabloid coverage about the Queen and how she was responsible for booting Harry from the royals and how she did not speak out in his support. But the Queen has long prioritized the survival of the institution over family. Think of how she went along with the courtiers when they said Princess Margaret could not marry Group Capt. Peter Townsend. She was equally mute. Because, in fact, she felt she had a responsibility to support the institution, not the family.
So it’s probably not wise to think we know what she thought about Harry & Meghan. But we DO know how she felt about the monarchy.
It was all about survival.
A high stakes game of Survivor
That’s still the goal. Survival.
As I watched the documentary I felt this young couple’s frustration. They truly had no place to tell their own story, so told it themselves. And reveal what was happening behind the public media coverage.
Speaking truth to power is always dangerous.
Meghan has paid a huge price in the attacks on her past, her character and her race.
Harry commented that most people think racism is the use of the N word, but he pointed out that there are many other ways it is evident, including the trope of the angry black woman. Part of the campaign against her. Like many Black women, Meghan has been called a “monkey.” She has been depicted as leading Harry around on a leash. She has been subjected to vile insults and …
Meghan has had death threats. Death threats. Over this. Can you imagine? THIS is why it was such a big deal that the palace pulled their security with only three weeks notice. There are crazy people out there. She is a mom worried about the safety of her kids.
And there’s this: according to Bot Sentinel, some 70% of the online hatred spewed against Meghan was generated by only 83 Twitter accounts. If that isn’t evidence of a coordinated campaign, I don’t know what is.
The institution is always in survival mode today, because people don’t see value in the monarchy like they used to.
Takeaways from the Harry-Meghan documentary
So here’s are my take-aways:
Harry watched what happened to his mother and didn’t want the same for his wife.
Harry was the one who wanted to leave the fold. It was not Meghan. He was firmly in the lead. But the press points at Meghan. Megxit. Well…not accurate. hope.
Harry is incredibly articulate and astute with his observations. Far more than I had imagined.
This young couple is clearly in love. And happy together.They want to raise their family and do their public works. That’s all. And we should let them.
Yes, they are well-off. Yes, they have projects through which they make money. I have no issue with their making money or living well. That’s not a sin. They do nothing others in their position don’t also do, but they’re crucified for it.
There is no need to subject them to a constant barrage of insults and horrible tropes. Racist tropes.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, look at THIS:
This past week, Camilla gave a private party and invited many tabloid journalists. Including this one, a British broadcaster in a column for one of the tabloids:
The column also detailed how much he “hates” Meghan. And then, this “dream.” Think about that violent fantasy for a moment. Is this normal? Is this a guy you want in your home? And then consider that the Queen Consort of England invited him to a private party.
Attribution for these images: instagram.com/the_american_duchess/
The Harry-Meghan documentary answers more questions than I have room to cover. But I came away from it feeling their frustration. Their fear. And firmly on their side. I also came away vowing to no longer give the Daily “Fail” any clicks.
I hope after reading this you’ll give stories about them a critical view and consider that what you’re reading could be the product of a Palace PR campaign.
If you think you know enough about this young couple to have an opinion and haven’t seen the Harry-Meghan film, you don’t have enough information. Watch it. If you do not have time to see all 6 episodes, I recommend you see Episodes 5 and 6, at minimum.
Oh and enjoy this Instagram vid, which sums it all up.