Couple claim the British media out to destroy Meghan from the start

Fantasy and lies: The couple claim the ‘racist’ British media were out to destroy Meghan from the start. The reality, as these Mail headlines illustrate, is that their narrative is a grotesque distortion, writes STEPHEN GLOVER

Any fair-minded person who knows Britain will agree that the first three episodes of Harry and Meghan, released yesterday by Netflix, present a grotesquely distorted version of our country.

But I fear there are decent people in America and elsewhere who may accept this travesty as being somewhere near the truth, rather than the self-serving and distorted nonsense it really is.

Britain is presented as a deeply racist place, and the country’s media are alleged to be at the epicentre of this racism. According to accounts by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan was harried by the Press from the moment she set foot on our soil because she is of mixed race.

This fantasy has already been aired by the couple in their incendiary interview with the American TV personality, Oprah Winfrey, in March 2021. On that occasion, Harry described the tabloids as ‘bigoted’, and claimed that racism in the Press had filtered into society, and played a large part in his and his wife’s departure from this country.

Britain is presented as a deeply racist place, and the country’s media are alleged to be at the epicentre of this racism

The Daily Mail comes in for special treatment. Its offices in London are briefly photographed, and several of its headlines (of which more later) are shown in such a way as to impute racism

These allegations are not investigated in any way. Images of newspaper headlines are flashed up on the screen to create an impression of racist coverage. The front of a 32-page Mail souvenir on 28 November 2017 set the tone with the headline: ‘The Making of a very modern Royal’

But these first three episodes of a six-part series go even further than the Oprah interview – partly because there is more time as each is nearly an hour long, and partly because the Sussexes are given completely free rein by Netflix to make whatever unsupported allegations they care to against the media.

These allegations are not investigated in any way. Images of newspaper headlines are flashed up on the screen to create an impression of racist coverage, but the articles are not shown in any detail or analysed.

The Daily Mail comes in for special treatment. Its offices in London are briefly photographed, and several of its headlines (of which more later) are shown in such a way as to impute racism.

Note that Harry has recently launched a joint legal action against the Mail’s publisher, alleging ‘gross breaches of privacy’, and has previously initiated a legal case against The Mail on Sunday.

That social media – which Harry often conveniently conflates with the mainstream media – has contained repulsive racist jibes against Meghan can’t be doubted

From the moment that the engagement of Meghan and Harry was announced in November 2017, the media were almost overwhelmingly welcoming and sympathetic to the couple

Harry baldly states at one juncture: ‘Eight days after the relationship became public [in November 2016] I put out a statement calling out the racist undertones of articles and headlines that were written by the British Press, as well as outright racism from those articles across social media’.

That social media – which Harry often conveniently conflates with the mainstream media – has contained repulsive racist jibes against Meghan can’t be doubted. But I am not aware of this, or indeed any other British newspaper, ever having run a racist article about the couple.

In fact, the boot has been entirely on the other foot. From the moment that the engagement of Meghan and Harry was announced in November 2017, the media were almost overwhelmingly welcoming and sympathetic to the couple. This is not mentioned for a single second in any of the three episodes.

The front of a 32-page Mail souvenir on 28 November 2017 set the tone with the headline: ‘The Making of a very modern Royal’. The coverage of Meghan, and her new husband, was extremely positive and favourable.

On the same day, the Daily Telegraph ran an editorial with the headline: ‘Modern romance to celebrate as a nation.’ An approving report in The Times declared that ‘Meghan Markle is a refreshing departure from the mould of staid tradition’.

Both of them appear determined to twist the past so that coverage which was almost entirely friendly over a long period of time is obliterated from history, and coverage that didn’t carry the slightest taint of racism is deemed to have done so

A couple of days after the Sussexes’ joyous wedding in May 2018, the Mail’s front page article by Royal correspondent Rebecca English began: ‘The Duchess of Sussex has made it clear she intends to take the Royal Family in a bold new direction, declaring she is ‘proud to be a woman and a feminist”

That was what almost everyone felt – joy at the young couple’s happiness, and a recognition of Meghan’s grace and lack of stuffiness

Not once in these three episodes is the sympathetic and initially overwhelmingly supportive coverage of Mail and other newspapers even fleetingly mentioned

A few days later, my Mail colleague, Jan Moir, gave an account of a walkabout in Nottingham by the newly-engaged couple that sometimes verged on the ecstatic.

She described being ‘among the hundreds of fans who were shrieking and cheering as the actress appeared among them, complete with a royal wave that is already accomplished and assured’. Jan concluded: ‘Meghan Markle was not born to be a princess, but she moves with ease in her brave new world.’

Such was the mood of the country at the time, which this and other newspapers did their best to reflect. That was what almost everyone felt – joy at the young couple’s happiness, and a recognition of Meghan’s grace and lack of stuffiness. Any racism was confined to the gutters of social media.

And so it went on. A couple of days after the Sussexes’ joyous wedding in May 2018, the Mail’s front page article by Royal correspondent Rebecca English began: ‘The Duchess of Sussex has made it clear she intends to take the Royal Family in a bold new direction, declaring she is ‘proud to be a woman and a feminist’.’

Was that not taking Meghan seriously, and showing her respect? And yet, as I say, not once in these three episodes is the sympathetic and initially overwhelmingly supportive coverage of Mail and other newspapers even fleetingly mentioned.

Instead, at the end of episode two, Meghan paints a picture of herself on the eve of her wedding as a victim of racism – victimhood being her and Harry’s favourite register: ‘Truth be told, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how good I was, no matter what I did… they were still gonna find a way to destroy me.’

Meghan paints a picture of herself on the eve of her wedding as a victim of racism – victimhood being her and Harry’s favourite register

Harry and Meghan have so convinced themselves that the Press is out to get them that even the most even-handed or innocent headline is bent to their racist interpretation

Both of them appear determined to twist the past so that coverage which was almost entirely friendly over a long period of time is obliterated from history, and coverage that didn’t carry the slightest taint of racism is deemed to have done so.

So a Mail headline, which contained the word ‘niggling’, over a column about the Sussexes by my colleague Sarah Vine – it was a reference to her take on the couple’s unconventional engagement pictures – is flashed before our eyes to suggest racism. How absurd. ‘Niggling’ is etymologically, wholly distinct from the ‘N-word’, being of Scandinavian origin.

Harry and Meghan have so convinced themselves that the Press is out to get them that even the most even-handed or innocent headline is bent to their racist interpretation.

A Mail headline saying that Meghan’s ancestors were a ‘tailor, a teacher and a cleaner in racially divided Jim Crow South’ is paraded. This is factual, and if anything sympathetic to Meghan and her put-upon forbears.

Throughout the proceedings, a black historian called David Olusoga is periodically invited to condemn Britain as a racist country, and its newspapers as inherently racist. Naturally, no evidence is produced.

A black historian called David Olusoga is periodically invited to condemn Britain as a racist country, and its newspapers as inherently racist

It’s true, of course, that there were occasional articles critical of Meghan, but these had absolutely nothing to do with race. The Mail and other papers were not overjoyed when, in February 2019, she flew to New York for an extraordinarily lavish ‘baby shower’ with close friends.

Equally, this headline over a column by the Mail’s Amanda Platell (also flashed during episode two) is quite wrongly adduced as racist: ‘Don’t use the monarchy as a MeToo soapbox, Meghan.’

But why on earth is that racist? No member of the Royal Family should use a soap box to push any cause. Prince Charles (as he was then) was often criticised for doing precisely that.

As late as September 2019 – only months before Harry and Meghan turned their backs on Britain – they received almost rapturous coverage in the Mail and other newspapers during their visit to southern Africa. Harry was photographed walking through an Angolan minefield, as his mother had done 22 years previously.

In the first episodes of their series – God knows what the next three will bring – the Sussexes have invited viewers into a lunatic world in which genuine praise and admiration by the media over a long period is forgotten, and racism is inferred where none existed.

But then Netflix believes, as Meghan and Harry apparently do, that Britain is a racist country. Even the late Queen’s beloved Commonwealth is written off by Afua Hirsch, an obliging ‘talking head’, as ‘Empire 2.0, because that is what it is’.

But then Netflix believes, as Meghan and Harry apparently do, that Britain is a racist country

‘Lie’ is an extreme word, and I hesitate to use it. But I’m afraid these three episodes are full of lies – not just about the Mail and the media, of course, but also the Royal Family – that insult our intelligence

Perhaps the clearest proof of the warped nature of the Netflix series is its failure to mention the Mail in relation to Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager murdered by white thugs in 1993.

It was the Mail, of course, which alone dared name the thugs, and its then editor who risked prison, and the outrage of the Establishment, and God knows what else, to tell the truth.

Harry and Meghan are shown attending a memorial to Stephen, but neither they nor any of their talking heads can bring themselves even to acknowledge the newspaper that did more than any other for the young black man – and which they have chosen to demonise.

‘Lie’ is an extreme word, and I hesitate to use it. But I’m afraid these three episodes are full of lies – not just about the Mail and the media, of course, but also the Royal Family – that insult our intelligence.

The truth is that Britain and its newspapers wanted to like and respect Harry and Meghan, though not to worship them. Weighed down by recollections of his mother’s tragic death, which he blamed on the tabloids, Harry searched for a cause to attack them. In Meghan Markle, he has found an artful and ingenious accomplice.

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