Did Meghan Markle really tell her friends that when she and Prince Harry holidayed in Botswana in 2017 he was “delightfully surprised” when she needed a “bathroom break” and “would happily wander off into the woodlands”?
And did Prince Harry let it be known that when he and Meghan set off for a carriage procession around Windsor after their wedding he found his trousers were “too tight.”
Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, the authors of Finding Freedom, obviously felt both intimate revelations were significant enough to include them in their new 358-page biography of the couple.
Their aim is to “portray the real Harry and Meghan”, but it reads more like a ghosted autobiography. It is also such a gross invasion of the couple’s privacy, something they have repeatedly claimed they cherish, that they must have taken an active part. The authors insist they didn’t, even though at the back of the book in black and white is the admission they have talked “to the couple themselves”. Either way the pair come across as hugely needy, full of self-pity, lacking self-awareness and having little idea of how the monarchy works.
Nor does the book respect other peoples’ privacy. We read too much detail about the layout of Anmer Hall, the Norfolk home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, ditto George and Amal Clooneys’ Italian home, the vault where the Queen keeps her tiaras and jewels, and the room where Meghan had tea with the Queen for the first time.
The biography mainly focuses on Meghan, placing Harry, once a hugely popular senior royal, very much in the background. That synchs with their engagement interview on BBC TV in November 2017 when he said that the moment he saw Meghan he knew he had to “up my game . . . and make sure I’ve got good chat.” Meghan has remained on a pedestal ever since.
Meghan opened Harry’s eyes to the importance of being a feminist, fighting against racism and climate change
I spent more than a year following Prince Harry, joining him on royal engagements and interviewing him at Kensington Palace before I wrote his biography in 2018. He told me he was fed up living in a “goldfish bowl” but having newly taken over patronages for the Queen and supporting his brother made him feel less restless.
But his urge to flee never quite went away and Meghan opened the door for him to bolt. She has also opened his eyes to the importance of being a feminist, fighting against racism and for climate change. The burden of carrying such heavyweight issues has also turned Harry into a shadow of himself. Gone is the charismatic, mischievous prince, to be taken over by a stressed, often dishevelled individual who wants us all to stop flying but takes private jets with Meghan. We learn that his friend from Eton, Tom Inskip, said as much the day after Harry and Meghan’s wedding: “Meghan has changed Harry too much. We have lost him.” Sadly, so have we.
Meghan, on the other hand, is presented almost as a goddess who is never wrong and could save us all. Her high-school classmates thought she was a “fake” because “it was impossible anyone could be that perfect”. In “social settings all eyes are drawn to her”. As for the £32 million wedding, “she didn’t deserve anything less.” Her projects have “all broken records” although the authors do not itemise them. She also feels let down by the royal family. Despite Harry being sixth in line to the throne, she had “envisioned a life on the front line not on the sidelines . . . and was hoping to use her influence to make a difference”. She also was far from pleased when asked to show baby Archie Mountbatten Windsor to the public soon after his birth as she “didn’t want to serve her child up on a silver platter”.
She has even admitted to anonymous friends quoted in the book that she resents that she “had given up so much to take her life down a path of service to the monarchy”, ignoring the fact that she has only officially been part of it since May 2018 and, as a result, become one of the most famous women in the world. The authors say they have spoken to more than 100 people, who give the overall impression that both of them have taken the privileged part of their life as their due but zoom in on anything negative, however small. Top of Meghan’s list of people she resents seems to be the Duchess of Cambridge, although this could be pure jealousy.
The biography is also full of contradictions, which are never explained. Meghan resented being “pummelled with criticism” but the book is packed with examples of her own alleged criticisms of her in-laws and staff. There are even nasty digs at her first husband, Trevor Engelson, who has respectfully kept quiet about his former wife.
Harry also feels resentful and furious with William for suggesting he shouldn’t worry about taking his time with “this girl” before he proposed. Harry has branded him a “snob”, forgetting perhaps that he used the same two words in his engagement interview with the BBC TV when he said he realised very early on that “I am in love with this girl.”
The couple’s last public appearance as working members of the royal family was at a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March. One “insider” voices disgust that not one royal threw their arms around them and that Kate and William, who were seated in front of them, “snubbed” them by not acknowledging their presence. The fact is that the service was about to start and such touchy-feely gestures are avoided on royal public engagements.
Even the Queen is rebuked for not making herself immediately available when Harry and Meghan came back from Canada in January to discuss their departure from the royal family.
Prince Charles is criticised for being “too focused on his public image” rather than nurturing Harry. The truth is that Charles, heir to the throne, has a huge sense of royal duty. He is also financing the couple to the hilt.
Meghan is said to be “comfortable doing away with luxuries”. Yet she spent £55,500 on the dress she wore for an engagement picture, stayed in luxury hotels and vast homes in Canada and Los Angeles, and took endless flights by private jet.
We read that Meghan’s friend Nicky Priddy says Meghan “wants to be Princess Diana 2.” Another friend, Sonia Ardakan, adds: “Meghan always gets what she wanted.” This time round she hasn’t. She can’t use her HRH royal title or represent the Queen. She and Harry might have got a better deal, the book hints, if they weren’t so “impatient and impulsive”.
Another “insider” told the authors that Harry didn’t care what his family thought or said. “He knew Meghan was right for him . . . everything else was noise.” It’s one of Meghan’s favourite expressions — and an appropriate description of the biography.
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