News, Culture & Society

JAN MOIR: So who are the REAL victims in the Sussexes’ poisonous royal soap opera? 

You are either in or you are out, the Queen once said. She was famously referring to Megxit and the flight of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from the deprivations of royal privilege to the golden pastures of a new life in America.

There, they would escape stuffy protocol and be able to monetise their royal connections — free at last to make all the empowering podcasts they wanted.

So why, almost three years later, is everything so very much worse instead of being so much better?

Relations have not improved between the Sussexes and the rest of the royals in the post-Queen world. It was clear that there was no forgiveness and healing for the warring factions as they gathered for the funeral of the Queen last week.

For William and Harry there was no brotherly bonding over shared grief. For their wives there was only icy demeanour and averted gazes — the two women couldn’t even bear to look at each other. Warmth was noticeable by its absence. Condolences came there none.

Relations have not improved between the Sussexes and the rest of the royals in the post-Queen world

For William and Harry there was no brotherly bonding over shared grief. For their wives there was only icy demeanour and averted gazes — the two women couldn’t even bear to look at each other. Warmth was noticeable by its absence. Condolences came there none

For William and Harry there was no brotherly bonding over shared grief. For their wives there was only icy demeanour and averted gazes — the two women couldn’t even bear to look at each other. Warmth was noticeable by its absence. Condolences came there none

That is why a hard winter is coming for this royally splintered family. A permafrost has settled across the House of Windsor and a melt point seems impossible, given the storms to come.

First there will be the publication of the Duke of Sussex’s autobiography. Publishing insiders reveal that potential titles include My So-Called Life, The Twits, The Adventures Of Dennis The Menace & Minnie The Minx and, of course, The Secret Diary Of Prince Harry, Age 13 And ¾.

Oh, come on. Harry’s got half an A-level in art and a master’s degree in grievance and self-pity, so we can take an informed guess at what the book might contain. Will it be a petulant explosion of ginge-tinged revenge on everyone who has ever crossed him — or a thoughtful essay on how power corrupts, and royal power corrupts absolutely because it is touched by divinity, an absurd construct in a modern age with no place for institutional deference?

No prizes for guessing.

Yet at least Harry’s freshly minted words will now be viewed through the prism of another book, one which puts the Sussexes’ story into a different perspective.

In Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind The Crown, author Valentine Low claims to expose what really went on behind the scenes during their brief tenure as working royals.

That is why a hard winter is coming for this royally splintered family. A permafrost has settled across the House of Windsor and a melt point seems impossible, given the storms to come

That is why a hard winter is coming for this royally splintered family. A permafrost has settled across the House of Windsor and a melt point seems impossible, given the storms to come 

He writes, for example, that Samantha Cohen, the couple’s private secretary, was ‘screamed at’ during working hours. That the couple were so difficult to deal with that it was ‘like working for a couple of teenagers’. That staff were bullied, frequently left in tears, and that they privately described Meghan as a ‘narcissistic sociopath’.

Mr Low’s book posits the theory that Meghan wanted out of the Royal Family as soon as she realised the obligation to public service overruled everything — then wasted no time in building a victimhood narrative to smooth her passage home to America.

That certainly has the ring of truth about it — in fact, it’s the only speculation in this whole, crazy mess that makes sense.

And it is noticeable that instead of the usual flurry of aggrieved denials and threats from Harry and Meghan over these allegations, there has been nothing.

No reaction. No comment. Nada. The silence from Montecito has been deafening.

In his new book, Valentine Low writes, for example, that Samantha Cohen, the couple’s private secretary, was ‘screamed at’ during working hours. That the couple were so difficult to deal with that it was ‘like working for a couple of teenagers’. That staff were bullied, frequently left in tears, and that they privately described Meghan as a ‘narcissistic sociopath’

In his new book, Valentine Low writes, for example, that Samantha Cohen, the couple’s private secretary, was ‘screamed at’ during working hours. That the couple were so difficult to deal with that it was ‘like working for a couple of teenagers’. That staff were bullied, frequently left in tears, and that they privately described Meghan as a ‘narcissistic sociopath’

This is not like the Sussexes, always so quick to prickle at the slightest slight. Last November, Meghan’s lawyer Jenny Afia even appeared in the BBC documentary The Princes And The Press, addressing the persistent claims that Meghan had bullied staff.

‘This narrative that no one could work for the Duchess of Sussex, that she was too difficult or demanding a boss and that everyone had to leave, is just not true,’ she said airily.

As to the ‘overall allegation that the Duchess of Sussex is guilty of bullying’?

‘Absolutely not,’ said Afia.

It seemed extraordinary at the time. The kind of behaviour you’d expect from a greasy showbiz publicist defending a wayward client. Or perhaps Sharon Osbourne stepping in front of the cameras to claim the narrative that Ozzy bit the head off a bat on stage was just not true. The overall allegation that he was guilty of bat-munching? Absolutely not.

Yet Ozzy did bite the bat. We all know that. Did Meghan bite the bullet when it came to chastising staff? Recollections may vary.

Now we have the account from Palace staff, who have finally told their stories and had their truth heard after these years of suppression and denial.

Almost from day one, there were rumours that, behind the scenes, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not quite the bountiful charmers, the charitable do-gooders, they liked to portray in public.

Behind the dazzling smiles and the busy, busy dispensation of charity and regal bonhomie, it was suggested that something more unpleasant was bubbling beneath the surface. Now we can hear the untold side of the story.

And it is terribly important for all of us to know it. Not least because every time someone dares to raise a batsqueak of criticism against the Duchess, their certain fate is to be accused of racism. I have been called racist, the Royal Family have been called racist, the British media have been called racist, the whole country has been called racist.

And there are times, three years on, when the racist narrative even feels as if it has gone beyond the thorny clamour around Meghan and Harry into a barbed culture war between America and Britain. And all over what? A couple of spoiled royals who did not get their own way and decided to make everyone pay.

It would be so lovely, and an honour to the Queen’s memory, if all parties could now say: Mistakes were made, let’s move on.

But I suspect that is the last thing Harry has got planned for his next chapter.

The book, Courtiers, chronicles the Sussexes’ flame-out period, when they were deeply unhappy and reportedly behaving at their worst. Yet even those who sympathise must wonder why the couple remain keen on royal titles for their children. Do they hate The Firm and all it stands for — or not? They’d get far more respect if they turned down the titles, and ditched their own. Duke or duchess, prince or princess, it’s all meaningless in the great republican democracy of America anyway. Unless you need the titles for social cachet and money-making purposes. 

A lesson in discretion by Lioness Alex

Former Lioness Alex Scott is a deeply private person. How do I know this? Because she says so. 

‘I am super private and I will continue to be about my relationships,’ she told the world, five minutes before she published her memoir, How (Not) To Be Strong. 

‘I am super private and I will continue to be about my relationships,’ she told the world, five minutes before she published her memoir, How (Not) To Be Strong

‘I am super private and I will continue to be about my relationships,’ she told the world, five minutes before she published her memoir, How (Not) To Be Strong

She wasted no time in admitting that she has dated men and women, and detailed her past relationship with fellow Lioness Kelly Smith. 

‘I thought I’d be cheating you all if I didn’t put that in there,’ she said. Let’s hope Kelly feels the same way. And try to understand that for some, being private is a game of two halves.

Dame Prue Leith has stuck her spatula into the issue of where in London a statue of the Queen should be placed. 

Trafalgar Square is not good enough, she says — and she is right! HM deserves better than that glorified traffic roundabout, already cluttered with lions and effigies of the great and the good. 

Meanwhile, we learn that she did not want to be depicted in a tiara for her final sculpture. How typical of her. What an amazing woman she was, right to the very end and beyond.

Dame Prue Leith has stuck her spatula into the issue of where in London a statue of the Queen should be placed

Dame Prue Leith has stuck her spatula into the issue of where in London a statue of the Queen should be placed

A plant pot holder for a dress? Yucca!  

Remember when macramé plant pot holders were all the rage in the 1970s? Lovely to see that the beauty and usefulness of these knotted household decorations has not dimmed.

Here is reality TV celebrity Kylie Jenner repurposing one as a dress during Paris Fashion Week. Such a clever girl! You’d get two spider plants and at least one asparagus fern in there, but is it a good look?

Yucca, says a fashion expert. You can almost see her crochet.

Here is reality TV celebrity Kylie Jenner repurposing one as a dress during Paris Fashion Week. Such a clever girl! You’d get two spider plants and at least one asparagus fern in there, but is it a good look?

Here is reality TV celebrity Kylie Jenner repurposing one as a dress during Paris Fashion Week. Such a clever girl! You’d get two spider plants and at least one asparagus fern in there, but is it a good look?

End ‘Queue-gate’ – and the loathsome petition culture

The woman who started the petition to have Holly and Phil sacked from This Morning has now sacked herself. The nastiness all got too much for her! So why do it in the first place?

Petition culture is loathsome. You may agree or disagree with someone’s actions or words, but why try to hound them out of a job just because you disapprove of what they have done? This petition was always ridiculous, especially when ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall stood up for her stars — in a way she did not for Piers Morgan.

When Piers refused to apologise for choosing not to believe the Duchess of Sussex, he had to go. Now it seems evident that there have been many times when she has been economical with the truth, knowingly or unknowingly.

Yet no one is starting a petition calling for Carolyn McCall to lose her job — not even Piers! — even though it is becoming increasingly obvious that she backed the wrong runner in this race.

I’m appalled by cruel force of luvvies’ spite

Most critics have decided that Kenneth Branagh is a disaster as Boris Johnson in the new Michael Winterbottom TV drama This England. Yet was the former PM ever going to be treated fairly by the luvvie division? Politics is a dirty game, but the lack of decency towards Johnson appals. 

I’m no Boris fan, but even the plastic prosthetics sported by Branagh had an inbuilt cruelty. And the Have I Got News For You Boris tribute was so brutal I had to switch it off. Would such spite ever be applied to an outgoing Labour prime minister? Of course not.

  • Many of us will reach a certain age when we start scouring the horizon for women who are older than us and still doing amazing things. It can be so cheering: 76-year-old Cher in rubber on the Paris catwalk this week was a boost, along with Brigitte Bardot still fighting for animal causes. The French star turned 88 on Wednesday and has called upon the French national football team to drop West Ham player Kurt Zouma, after a video emerged showing him kicking his pet cat. Bardot commented that she felt ‘scandalised’ by the footage and called him an ‘imbecile’ who ‘soils’ the French national strip. She’s right. Never has anyone deserved the boot more.

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