In the end I gave it a go. At first I thought I was watching an extended sequence of adverts punctuated by clips of some rich people moaning on a planet where no-one really knew what the real world was like. I went in early with my predictions and now I’m coming back late, four days after we were all swamped by the inevitable blow back – more than enough of it to block even the sturdiest of media toilets. It wasn’t even my intention to plough through the whole thing, but Wifey decided for me and so I took the yoke and ploughed on anyway, through a topsoil of conversation that felt barren and thick: if Meghan, Harry and Oprah were all we had to restart the population we’d be in some real trouble.
If I had any serious interest in serious journalism I would be re-watching it as I write this, pausing regularly to write down a point of interest or a particularly juicy quote, assessing each glimmer of a smile and each twitch of a grimace. But why should I be serious about serious journalism when it is obvious in this case that nobody else is? If this was a serious interview to be taken truly seriously then the parties involved would not start their conversation by explaining that they were great friends who lived down the road from each other and had borrowed the venue from someone with a garden the size of Cumbria and garden furniture bigger than my house. If there was a hint that this was some hard hitting, serious interview then that was blown away within seconds: you can think whatever you like about Meghan, Harry and Oprah but please don’t tell me this was really meant to be taken seriously.
The point is that I have chosen to reflect on the interview without recourse to notes and repeated viewings: life is simply too short to feel compelled to watch it more than once unless one is writing a thesis on how to over-prepare for a spontaneous event. Anything that did not stick in the memory first time round probably isn’t worth seeing a second time (one could easily argue that it wasn’t worth it the first time round either, but it’s too late for regrets like that). In an effort to relax everybody Oprah observed that Meghan was having a baby, something the whole world (including her) knew already and thereby denying the casual observer the thrill of one more advert – henpeck repellent, beard oil, Mattel board game ‘Stick The Knife In’- before they settled down. She then asked a series of questions to establish the set up and the circumstances under which the interview would be conducted – have you seen this pack of cards before, things like that – and genuinely wanted us to believe this was as close to a natural situation as possible. By now silly Piers Morgan had already spent 24 hours shouting at himself but he should have always remembered that it wasn’t important if Meghan was lying but rather that it didn’t matter what Meghan said at all.
If Meghan says she had depression and suicidal thoughts then who am I to doubt her, but I find it hard to believe there was no-one at all she could turn to – certainly I would feel bad if my best option for advice was Fergie, or almost any of her new, now old, extended family. Of course she had Harry there and this raises an interesting point: if no one had told her what she was going up against and she had been lazy enough not to do a whole lot of research then why on earth didn’t Harry himself fill in the blanks? The feeble answer we were later offered, when he was finally allowed to come downstairs, was that although he had been trapped in the system like all the others he hadn’t realised he was trapped until Meghan came into his life and cupped his royal balls. Only then did he realise what an awful life he had been silently coping with and by then it must have been too late to tell Meghan in advance because he hadn’t realised it until just then, the moment he realised it before he got the chance. Very complicated but not very compelling.
Moving back to nearer the beginning, after the ninth advert break, we found Meghan and Harry in the cleverly named ‘Archie’s Chick Inn’, a chicken coup which years later will lend its moniker to Archie’s unofficial private bonking club – in typical style the average royal prince has plenty of chicks but it’s usually the wrong one that gets laid. As the three of them (I can’t remember if Archie was there too, but I suppose it wouldn’t have made much sense if he hadn’t been) casually pretended they had a clue what they were doing Meghan mentioned something about wanting to lead an authentic life, a concept followed closely by the story of their unofficial marriage in the back garden by the Archbishop of Canterbury; someone I always try to bring in to add a whiff of authenticity when I’m clearing the gutters or taking a long soapy shower. Meghan and Harry might be many things (they aren’t, but they might be) but I would never dare to dream of them ever being authentic; surely the whole interview was a case study in inauthenticity.
Money came up, of course, because the Sussexes famously haven’t got a pot to piss in or, if you’d prefer me to be less crude for the occasion, two farthings to rub together. Indeed when they moved to California they had to bunk down in some grotty shack owned by the virtually destitute billionaire Tyler Perry. I could feel my heart almost literally snap in two when Harry explained that he had been cut off financially from the family and that they basically had to rely on the pittance left him by his, wait for it, mother. Oh, and her vast earnings from her previous day job. The first few months must have been really touch and go as Harry stayed at home to sew up holes in Meghan’s socks and breast feed Archie while she tramped the high street trying to secure a starter mortgage for them; eventually having to beg for an interest only 45 year deal from Nationwide so they could buy a modest $14.6 million super exclusive gated community compound in Santa Barbara, where they quickly made friends with notorious neighbourhood (or less accurately ‘neighborhood’) curtain twitcher Mrs Winfrey, down at number 23, who brought them a Faberge Egg to make them feel at home and also rather spookily attended their wedding two years before that, when they were already firm pals in the obscenely rich and detached from reality set. I would go on but I fear that the tears pouring from my eyes might compromise the effectiveness of my keyboard, so I just hope that Harry has kept the many undisclosed millions left to him by the Queen Mother in some kind of high interest ISA account with the TSB.
Money aside I guess we should move on to the big one – racism. It is generally frowned upon to ask someone what colour they think their baby might be, just as it is awkward to ask a large lady when they’re due only to be told they are not in fact pregnant. Oprah must have known the whole story beforehand because her reaction to being told was about as convincing a bit of fake surprise as one might find in a saucy moment from a ‘Carry On’ film. Nevertheless, I do believe that question was asked by some daft posh sod, but it should hardly come as a surprise – hence why Oprah’s reaction was so lame. Remember that we’re talking about an exclusively white family that through various weak branches, shipped in spare parts and interbreeding has been at the top for 1200 years. Yesterday Prince William insisted that his family were not at all racist but what he meant is that they weren’t racist anymore, well, maybe a little bit but nowhere near as bad as they used to be. Prince Philip has a reputation for it that could sink a slave ship and I’ve always been led to assume that Princess Michael of Kent would fit in well at a Klan rally. Going back a bit Edward VIII famously had a bit of a crush on Hitler, and so on. The palace will deny all charges and probably promise to conduct an internal investigation, but the only way they will ever truly root out racism from their genetically corrupted tree is to let them die one by one, a process that is in motion as we speak.
As if to show us the light side of Meghan and Harry, Oprah concluded the interview with some banal children questions; completely ignoring the universal law that deep down nobody gives a shit about anybody else’s kids. Even theirs. Especially theirs. We now know that Archie likes to say words like ‘hydrate’ a lot, which gives you a very handy glimpse into the kind of gleaming teeth, clean earth, vegan enema Californian life he will be exposed to for the rest of his childhood. Before you know it he’ll be saying things like ‘core squats’, ‘mental wellbeing’ and ‘growth mindset’. Staggering. As the credits began to roll someone, possibly Harry, said something funny and everybody laughed, and it seemed to me that perhaps it would have been nice to have been in on the only funny thing that had happened in the last two hours, but then I remembered that the whole thing had been rehearsed like a crass pantomime anyway and, more importantly, none of them seemed to have much of a sense of humour and so it wouldn’t have been worth listening to. Maybe it was a joke about racists. Or Prince Andrew. Or fooling some of the people some of the time.
So the interview was that pure crass pantomime (where almost everyone feels like the baddie) and it didn’t really matter what was true and what was not; what mattered is that it didn’t matter at all. It is simply the lives of others and more importantly those lives exist in a world almost entirely alien to 99.9% of the rest of everyone, anywhere. If Meghan has had suicidal thoughts I hope she feels better now. If Harry is wondering if he’ll have to slaughter another of Archie’s chickens just to put food on the table of the fourteen strong security team that guards their guest cottage then I can see how that must be a constant worry for him: if he’s really feeling the pinch he could ask the nice lady down at number 23 for a fiver and half a pint of milk. But the saddest thing about all of it is that something so deeply irrelevant has consumed so much time and speculation when there are so many other real things to worry about. In years to come cultural commentators may look back on ‘Meghan and Harry: The Interview’ as some kind of pivotal moment in the fortunes of the British Monarchy or the never ending battle for racial equality, but if we’re going to be more honest about it we should just call it one of the most outrageous acts of self-indulgent narcissism of modern times and an attack on a grim, compromised and very anachronistic institution that needs more than just a bloody good shake up. That, but with adverts. Lots of adverts.
G B Hewitt. 12.03.2021
Best, and also worst, line – “I’m just afraid of history repeating itself, and I’ve said this before……”.
In conclusion: awful.