BEL MOONEY: My pity for these sad, naive, damaged souls


Somebody told me that there is a ‘Team Meghan’ and a ‘Team Queen’ and you have to pick your side.

I thought it was true — and certainly knew where I stood. As the ‘sides’ lined up on social media, ready to watch the Oprah Winfrey interview, this passionate monarchist — devoted to the Queen and the Prince of Wales — felt nothing but acute hostility towards Meghan and her hapless husband.

Now, having watched the (seemingly endless) programme, I feel a sympathy that has surprised me.

In spite of all I know of their privileged lifestyle, somewhat-hypocritical ‘woke’ pretensions and all that’s irritating in their self-indulgent California-speak, watching the Sussexes parade their feelings to the U.S.’s Queen of TV left me feeling very sad.

In spite of their privileged lifestyle, watching the Sussexes parade their feelings to the U.S.’s Queen of TV left me feeling very sad

It was tragic to watch Prince Harry patronise his father and brother by expressing ‘compassion’ for them, pour salt into existing wounds and then state so glibly that ‘time heals’. Because it doesn’t — or at least, not always.

Yes, time can slowly restore and people can forgive, but only when they stay calm, gradually forget harsh words and mistaken actions and move quietly and deliberately towards reconciliation.

How can that happen when you have just chosen to wash your monogrammed family linen in front of millions of people?

I kept wondering how I’d feel if these were two ‘ordinary’ people writing to my Saturday advice column about the stress of marrying someone very different, or the rising panic when you don’t fit in, or the loneliness of feeling misunderstood by everybody, or hating your life so much you think you might be happier if you were dead.

The world is full of confused people who get things very wrong in their lives and usually blame others. Advice columns like mine are inundated with toxic family problems — to the point where I often despair and wonder if anybody ever communicates properly or thinks twice before an angry rant.

Why should the rich and famous be different? Why are they any less deserving of understanding — even compassion — for their shocking mistakes?

Watching Oprah’s interview, I tried to feel furious with those hugely rich, pampered people, living in a gated paradise while whinging about how badly they have been treated.

But I’m afraid I couldn’t help but pity the couple as two surprisingly naïve, youngish souls who know astonishingly little about real life — and have instead revealed just how damaged they both are.

Was the decision to spill the beans to Oprah part of a strategy to promote their lucrative brand — or yet another yelp in one long cry for help?

This isn’t so much a case of ‘their own truth’ (as Winfrey would put it, in that wince-inducing phrase) as a painful revelation of how little they understand of what they are really saying.

They present themselves as truth-tellers, more sinned against than sinning. Yet they seem ignorant of the fact that ‘truth’ is a double-edged sword, and that by stating one thing you can reveal something quite different.

Why should the rich and famous be different, why are they any less deserving of understanding ¿ even compassion

Why should the rich and famous be different, why are they any less deserving of understanding — even compassion

How extraordinary, for example, that Meghan — the allegedly free spirit — should prove to be so obsessed with titles. It came up again and again, especially when talking about their baby son.

Meghan wanted him to be called Prince Archie, even though he has no claim to the title yet. What’s more, since all titles are in the Queen’s gift, this was in fact a complaint against the grandmother-in-law who, she also said, had been ‘wonderful’ to her.

The Duchess seems unaware of the contradictions between pretending to know nothing of the monarchy (really?), then feeling trapped and frustrated by its protocols and complaining because of this perceived slight to her son.

To me it revealed an almost pathetic neediness for status.

The institution of the monarchy is indeed a stuffy, hidebound thing. If it was tough for Diana, born into the English aristocracy, how strange must it have seemed to this American actress who accepted her Prince after a whirlwind courtship in which both were blinded by the stars in their eyes.

Did they really ask for help which was refused? Did they not have good, wise friends outside?

Yes, it seems curious for Meghan to moan that she wasn’t reminded or helped to learn the National Anthem (come on, lass, actresses have to learn their lines), but there’s undoubtedly a rigidity to royal protocol which must chafe.

It must have felt entrapping to both the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who nevertheless resolutely do their duty.

I don’t believe anybody has the right to say Meghan is exaggerating the loneliness and despair that led her to think it would be better if she were no longer alive. I feel compassion for somebody so out of their depth in a foreign country. The trouble with her revelation is that she seemed to forget her responsibility towards those watching.

It is extremely unwise to parade your suicidal thoughts when you have a professed interest in mental health and are followed by millions of young people who, in the stress of lockdown, may be adversely influenced by your words.

Ah, but there was little of mature wisdom in this interview. Sadly, I was reminded of children caught in wrongdoing who brightly spin a yarn to get themselves off the hook.

There was so much that should have been kept strictly private. I wish for her own sake that she had understood there are times when ‘your own truth’ can do untold damage. I also wish she could have shown her love for her (clearly much weaker) husband by protecting him from his own version of the ‘truth’ about his family, too.

The horrible story of questions over the colour of a baby’s skin is left hanging — and therefore, by implication, trashes the whole family. Was this deliberate?

Anybody who reveres the lifelong service of the Queen and Prince Charles and respects their love of the Commonwealth will know the suggestion of racism is outrageous.

It reveals a terrible lack of emotional intelligence in Harry and Meghan not to realise how cruel is the hurt they are dishing out.

For all the glitz, glamour and big bucks, they are a sad couple.

Is there anybody to give them wise advice? Would they listen if somebody like me — who so adored our soldier prince and celebrated his wonderful wedding to a stunning, ‘ordinary’ woman — begged them now to embrace the privacy they have so shockingly breached and focus on their babies?

Because if they don’t, they are storing up greater unhappiness in the future. If things go wrong you will find, Sir, you need your family.



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