In their long campaign to tell their story — and portray themselves as victims of the British royal family, the tabloids and critics and haters everywhere — Prince Harry and his wife MeghanDuchess of Sussex, has revealed her secrets to Oprah Winfrey, revealed them again to various sympathetic TV interviewers, produced and starred in a six-part Netflix series, and, in Harry’s case, appeared on actor Dax in the past two years. Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast.
Now comes Prince’s multimillion-dollar ghostwritten memoir, “Spare.” The release is set for Tuesday, and one glaring detail after another has been leaked over the past few days. (The book accidentally hit the shops early in Spain and was picked up and translated by quick-witted members of the British news media, bringing an element of chaos to the publisher’s sales.)
Harry and Meghan they still have many sympathizers, especially those who see the couple’s complaints through the lens of the racism Meghan encountered in Britain, and who say she – and Harry, once he married her – never stood a chance in such a stifled, reactionary institution as monarchy. .
But something has changed, judging by the reactions so far. Even in the United States, which has a soft spot for exiled royals and a generally higher tolerance than Britain for redemptive stories of overcoming trauma and family dysfunction, there’s a sense that there’s only so much revelation the public can take.
“Look, everybody has a family,” TV host Don Lemon declared on “CNN This Morning” last week. “I have quarrels in my family. Do I put it out there for the whole world to see? I don’t understand why on earth he would want to put it there. I know he’s selling a book, but to me it’s just…”. (“Gauche,” he added later.)
For example, was it stupid when Harry accused Prince William of knocking him to the floor while the two were arguing about Meghan, ripping Harry’s necklace and breaking the dog bowl, the shards of which then gouged his back? Or describe how the brothers argued in front of their father after Prince Philip’s funeral? (“Please, boys, don’t make my last years a misery,” Charles said.) How about Harry’s account of how high on his heels he believed a dustbin was talking to him, or the passage about Meghan insulting Kate, Princess of Wales , when she boldly asked if she could borrow her lip gloss?
It’s one thing to criticize; it’s another to openly mock them.
For example, it can’t be a great sign that Jimmy Kimmel’s show last week staged a reenactment of a supposed kitchen fight called “Two Princes.” The scene was set to a voice actor reading the passage with a slight English accent and featured two actors who were, oddly enough, each dressed as the musician Prince.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the four media personalities on Britain’s This Morning sofa could barely hold it together last week as they discussed another revelation in the book: Harry’s account of first sex.
“An older woman took his virginity and when the act of darkness was done, he was lying on his front and she was slapping his bottom,” one of them, writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, said to laughter.
Pre-orders have already catapulted the book to the top of the bestseller list, and the ubiquitous coverage isn’t likely to hurt sales, at least in the short term.
“I’m sure they don’t mind all the publicity,” said Jeffrey W. Schneider, co-founder of public relations firm The Lead PR, speaking of the book’s publisher, Penguin Random House. “It is also true that what is good for the publisher is not necessarily the same as what is good for the person who published the book.”
In fact, the more worrying thing for Harry and Meghan is whether the continued public rehashing of their problems has become so repetitive or even tiresome that it has eroded their personal brand and damaged their potential future earnings. Once they have exhausted the subject of themselves, what is left for them to talk about?
“It’s overload,” Schneider said. “There was a lot about them and now there is a lot more. While people’s fascination has always been quite high, perhaps it has its natural limits.’
If he was advising Harry and Meghan, said Howard Bragman, chairman of crisis company La Brea Media, he would impress upon them that there is only so much mileage to be gained from limited material.
“You have to realize that you really only get to tell your story once,” Bragman said.
There is also the question of timing. Harry’s book is published shortly after the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever you think of the monarchy, Elizabeth’s funeral gave the royal family an opportunity to display qualities such as discretion, bravery, adherence to duty and tradition, and the ability to remain publicly stoic in the face of private grief.
But Harry embodies the opposite of all that. With his revelations about private family conversations, his testimony about his distress and unhappiness at the behavior of his father, stepmother and brother, particularly after his mother’s death, and his eagerness to divulge non-royal details on subjects such as Meghan and Kate. The dramatic row over the bridesmaids’ dresses at his and Meghan’s wedding is in stark contrast to William, and especially Kate, who has not said any of it in public.
Many people have defended Meghan and Harry on social media and elsewhere in recent days. But for every one who stands up for the pair, there’s someone else who says enough is enough.
“We’ve all fallen into some kind of wormhole where we’ll never be able to hear every single detail of Prince Harry’s life and why he believes that no one has ever had a worse life than his,” former “View” co-host Meghan McCain. he said on Twitter. “This will never end. He will never let us live!”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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