The Maligning of Markle

If the eleven year old Meghan Markle was hurt and angry when she first saw that dish soap advert implying that women’s place was in the kitchen, one wonders what she would have made of the media onslaught against herself just days after announcing her engagement. This period should be one of the happiest times in her life, but I wonder how much hand wringing is going on behind the walls of Nottingham Cottage as media outlets root and dig in to every chapter of her past in a gleeful attempt at sales.

There are always those people in everyone’s life who are best forgotten. The friend who let you down, the sister who got jealous… we all have them. We hope, however, that in a moment of public scrutiny, such people would have the dignity to keep their (and your) past to themselves, no matter how much the bribe. Sadly for Meghan Markle, the people in her life she would probably like to forget are right at the top of the parapet, waving dirty linen and scattering old photographs down on the populace like confetti.

Over the weekend, newspapers have printed private photographs from practically every part of Markle’s life – from chubby cheeked toddler to smiling schoolgirl; gangly teenager to wedding day joys. These photographs have been supplied by an ex-best friend, who has clearly completely sold out the woman she once loved and was inseparable from. It is probably the most bitter pill for Markle to swallow, and she is now unable to reply as a future member of the royal family. It would be unseemly for her to try to explain why their friendship disintegrated – and it is really nobody else’s business. The shame lies with the ex-friend, who has shown to all the world her true sense of loyalty and that she has a price. She has taken her thirty pieces of silver.

She has a price, but Markle has a prince.

Jealousy is a cancer that unless acknowledged and dealt with, will fester and destroy. One hopes that Meghan Markle has the sense to know that this onslaught is born from this – and that she, in her cosy cottage making plans with her royal fiance, has already won the war.

Surely Harry will have told Meghan that this would happen. That the media would dig in to every nook and cranny of her life, unearthing unsavoury characters and unflattering photographs, and if they can’t find anything juicy enough to feed the masses – they might just make it up.

The salivating over every past cleavage shot or sexy scene in Markle’s acting past has a horribly misogynistic undertone, driven by a male dominated media. The wish to reduce a woman who has also worked for the UN to just her body, or what she might do with it, reeks of a wish to demean and to humiliate. It is telling that the young Meghan objected to the wording of a television advert years ago, yet womankind are still being reduced to one dimensional characters in order to sell products. It might be dish soap or it might be a newspaper, but you can get your stereotype here, everyone! At bargain prices!

The latest debacle has been the ‘discovery’ of Markle’s father – a man who clearly lives a quiet life and has stayed out of the spotlight. This hunting down of a private person to see what more can be found out about possible rifts or instability reminds me of a Victorian Freak Show. Roll up, roll up – here is the hermit dug out from his cave! Look at him, wonder at him! It’s shameful and inhumane, yet still the people stare.

Meghan Markle must do what she has done many times in her life – pull her shoulders back, switch on that smile and get her ‘boots on the ground’. As a person, as a three dimensional real person, she is warm, charismatic, kind and hard working. She must not allow herself to be reduced to a cardboard cut out or salacious headline. She must prove the naysayers wrong and push the cupboard skeletons firmly back in as she sashays past with a determined eye on the future.

It is what her younger self would definitely expect.


Hurry Up Harry!

Well, her Toronto home has been packed up and closed and Meghan Markle has officially said goodbye to her role as Rachel Zane in Suits. With all accounts suggesting she is now cosily ensconced in Kensington Palace’s Nottingham Cottage with Prince Harry, all bets are off that an engagement will be announced any day now.

When I say ‘any day now’, it genuinely feels like every single day royal observers and commentators have been on tenterhooks from dawn til mid morning, debating on Twitter and other social media platforms whether today will be THE DAY, and have thus far been sadly disappointed.

To go by previous royal engagement announcements, should Harry and Meghan choose to follow the traditional form, the day is usually a Tuesday or Wednesday, with an announcement coming around 11am. Traditionally, the royal parent of the engaged party will announce it – so I would expect the announcement to come from Clarence House rather than Kensington Palace itself. However, Prince Harry has been known to do things his own way – which leaves those waiting unsure how this is going to work.

The royal family don’t tend to make big announcements on days when there are political events, such as the budget or an election. They are also unlikely to announce on a day of crisis internationally, as it would draw attention away from the reporting of such an event and would therefore be unseemly.

An announcement seems likely to happen before Christmas, and as such is likely to happen in late November or early December since there will be plans for festive parties or celebrations the closer to Christmas we get. The House of Commons is also on their traditional Christmas recess from 21st December until the 8th January, so an engagement announcement seems unlikely to occur between those dates.

With all the anticipation and holding of breath that is going on within interested circles, an announcement seems sensible sooner rather than later. With newspapers reporting that Prince Harry wants Meghan to be protected by royal protection officers, an official status for her would not only be helpful, but also has been traditional in such cases. Royal fiancees have generally been left to run the media gauntlet until the moment the ring was officially twinkling on their finger.

After an eighteen month courtship, with two people who are in their thirties and have both expressed the desire to be parents, a swift engagement and wedding would appear to be on the cards.

And so, we continue to sit and wait. It could be Tuesday or Wednesday.

Or Thursday. Or Friday…



When Pippa Married James…

As yesterday dawned – bright but with a hint of rain in the air, Bucklebury braced itself for an onslaught of media and celebrity as Pippa Middleton started to prepare herself for the wedding she has spent months organising. The run up to the special day had been picked over in newspapers until there was nothing left to pick at – with readers everywhere wondering how much hype exactly was needed for the wedding of a couple nobody would have heard of, if it hadn’t been for the sister of the bride having married a prince.

With the Beckham’s PR guru, the Queen’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson, Prince Charles’s ex valet and now consultant to all things, Michael Fawcett all enlisted to create the perfect spectacle with no expense spared, only time would tell whether the enormous glass marquee would cause the illustrious guests to be deafened by very English rainstorms or not.

As guests started to arrive, with smatterings of recognisable faces such as Roger Federer and Princess Eugenie, a small crowd waited to see if Meghan Markle would make an appearance. As time went on, it became clear that we wouldn’t get a glimpse of the eagerly-anticipated royal girlfriend, as Princes William and Harry strolled in to St Marks’ Church, Englefield alone.

Carole Middleton appeared in pale pink, escorted by son and marshmallow entrepreneur, James. She appeared to wave with glee to the onlookers, smiling with what can only be described as a recently-filled face. Certainly, puffier than I have ever seen her before. She must rub her hands in delight at the conclusion sending her children to the ‘right places to meet’ the ‘right people’ has brought.

Michael Middleton, as ever, seemed less keen on the media but very proud of his youngest daughter. I wonder at times what he makes of the media storm other members of his family have whipped up. I wonder if he has a man-shed and a secret bottle of whisky somewhere on the Middleton Manor estate?

The Duchess of Cambridge turned up escorting the tiny bridesmaids and unfortunately pantalooned pageboys. She seemed stressed by having to get small people from the car to the church door, and was completely oblivious to the pageboy who decided to make V signals at the massed crowds. Wearing a peachy beige matchy matchy outfit that had already creased and wasn’t fitted properly around the bodice, Kate’s matron of honour role looked more than slightly awkward. By the time the party was leaving the church, she had already had to scold a weeping Prince George, control a confused looking, but very cute, Princess Charlotte and ineffectively manage a bunch of primary school children with rose petal baskets. Doting husband, William, was nowhere in sight, preferring to hang around with his brother and reality star best man, Spencer Matthews.

For the bride however, we must reserve praise. Pippa’s Giles Deacon designed dress was elegant and beautifully made, with delicate attention to detail. Her gossamer veil held in place by a deceptively simple, sparkling diamond tiara from Robinson Pelham. Pippa has clearly planned her bridal outfit for a very long time and her dogged determination paid off. She looked delighted by everything, and as she took her father’s arm to enter the florally bedecked church, she must have known her choice was a massive success.

An hour or so later, as bells rang out to celebrate this much-hyped union, the two people involved left St Marks looking full of joy. The photographers clicked and the other guests stayed back to allow the couple their moment. Apart from Kate, of course, who milled about at the front trying to look like she knew what to do with the tiny attendants while nanny Maria stayed out of sight. In the end, she got in a car and left for the reception – leaving the newly weds to lead the rest of the party over to Englefield House on foot. A champagne reception awaited.

Later, Pippa and James left in a vintage car for Middleton Manor in Bucklebury, in a scene reminiscent of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge driving Prince Charles’ Aston Martin from Buckingham Palace to Clarence House following their own afternoon wedding reception.

And as the Duchess herself returned to her parents house, to prepare for the rest of the celebrations, William was again nowhere in sight. I wonder if he was in the man-shed with Mike, hiding from wedding planners and photographers everywhere?

Finally, after a day of waiting, Prince Harry drove up with Meghan Markle in tow (not Merkle, as the unfortunate BBC News Reporter called her) – one solitary blurry snap the only proof that she attended.

As the expected Spitfire swooped over the venue, in a celebratory fly-past (one must keep up with one’s sister) and lights twinkled in the glass marquee, so large it could be seen from the other side of the valley, I wonder if Pippa raised her glass to herself for pulling off the media extravaganza of the year, while Kate – avoiding the canapes – searched in vain for the elusive William.

And readers everywhere sighed in relief.




Kelvin Mackenzie and the Hillsborough Legacy

Twenty eight years ago yesterday, one of the worst ever footballing disasters took place at Hillsborough. Ninety six Liverpool Football Club fans left their homes to spend the afternoon watching their favourite team play in the FA Cup Semi-Final, but never came home. Their deaths a result of huge overcrowding at the Leppings Lane end of the Sheffield ground, and a lack of immediate response from the police and emergency services due to poor management.

We all know the story of the ensuing years of fighting to have justice for the victims – and the final verdict that the dead that day had indeed been ‘unlawfully killed’ rather the victims of an unfortunate accident. Along the way, however, it was not just the victims, their families or those involved whose characters were sullied, but those of an entire city. Liverpool was painted as home to petty criminals who would steal from the dead, self-pitying idiots who would not accept fault for the incident or their supposed part in events that day. The main culprit for such slurs was Sun newspaper editor Kelvin Mackenzie, whose headline of The Truth stood above an article of complete untruths – that fans had urinated on the police, stolen from victims, got what they deserved. Mackenzie’s disdain for the truth and his apparent vendetta against Liverpool continues to this day. His recent article comparing Everton footballer, Ross Barkley who is part Nigerian, to a ‘gorilla’ and implying that the only rich people in Merseyside are footballers or drug dealers, shows an unapologetic and contemptuous mindset against a city who have never forgotten his lies.

Mackenzie was seemingly happy to write that Barkley was ‘dim’ – yet claims that he did not know the footballer was partly Nigerian, therefore excusing his ‘gorilla’ comment. One might presume a journalist should research facts before writing any article – Mackenzie thought he knew enough to opine about Barkley’s intelligence, yet says he did not know anything about his heritage? The racist and derogatory comments about Barkley and Liverpool as a whole suggest Mackenzie is more concerned with writing sensationalist rubbish than anything close to factual, a skill he has apparently not lost since 1989.

It may be twenty eight years since that sunny day in Sheffield turned in to a day of terrible sorrow and injustice, and Liverpool may have finally received the legal verdict it so desperately wanted for those who were lost – but the message that the city will not suffer in silence stands strong. Both Liverpool and Everton football clubs have both now decreed that Sun newspaper journalists are no longer welcome in their stadia or at news conferences, as a direct result of their continued affiliation with Kelvin Mackenzie. One might wonder why The Sun newspaper still continues to employ this man, and what it would take for them to reconsider his position with them?

The legacy of the Hillsborough disaster is not just that the ninety six victims will never be forgotten or that huge steps have been made to protect the public at large events – but also that the city of Liverpool will not tolerate their naysayers, or those who continue to spin lies about the city or the people who live there.

Not then, not now, not ever.

And that includes Kelvin Mackenzie.



(Image from Getty)