OPINION 

These might be the weirdest media responses to Harry and Meghan’s engagement

Diana can stop worrying; Meghan should be a mistress, not a wife; and Americans give better blowjobs! Welcome to the Great British Press

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By Hannah Banks-Walker on

Yesterday morning was one of the bleakest Mondays we’ve had for a while. It was basically dark all day, it’s close enough to Christmas for everyone to be the busiest they’ve ever been, but not quite close enough for it to be appropriate to whack out some deskside sherry at 12pm. And it’s really bloody cold. But then, just before it all got a bit too much, came news of the royal engagement. The engagement of everyone’s favourite member of the royal family, no less (that’s a fact, not just opinion). Some of us cared a lot! Some of us didn’t care at all! And some of us just became confused by the reaction of the press.

If you thought, back in the heady days of 2010 when Kate and William became engaged, that the media’s ferocious and, at times, downright disturbing obsession with Kate Middleton’s “middle class” upbringing was weird then, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Except you probably have, because it’s splashed across every major publication in the land. It’s not just Markle’s upbringing that’s of interest, though – it’s actually a far more sinister preoccupation with the fact that she’s American (!), divorced (!!) and mixed-race (!!!). Oh, and she’s an actress. Good Lord.

It’s difficult to know where to begin, but let’s start with The Telegraph’s take on events. Wading through the 287,342,867 articles on the subject of Meghan and Harry (“Forget comparisons with Wallis Simpson – Meghan Markle is more Grace Kelly” and, a personal favourite, “Even monarchy-hating Jeremy Corbyn wouldn't dare spoil Harry and Meghan's special day”), there is this gem: “At last, Diana doesn’t have to worry about Harry any more”. That’s right, The Telegraph actually managed to make this about Diana. “At long last, motherless Harry has another woman in his life to care for him, take him in her arms and love him to bits. Diana doesn’t have to worry any more,” writes Allison Pearson. Er, what? Firstly, this narrative of Harry as a helpless little boy who just needs a mother is quite insulting and, more importantly, he’s marrying Markle – she’s not adopting him. It gets worse. “Not only is she divorced… she is three years older than her second husband-to-be. As if that wasn’t quite unconventional enough, Meghan is American, an actress and mixed race. Pause for a moment and imagine showing the late Queen Mary a photograph of Doria Radlan sporting a Jermaine Jackson Afro in high school and saying: ‘Your Majesty, this is the mother of the future Princess Meghan of Wales.’” Again, what?

If you though that the media’s ferocious and, at times, downright disturbing obsession with Kate Middleton’s “middle class” upbringing was weird then, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet

Similarly, The Spectator is pretty obsessed with the fact that Markle is “unsuitable as [Harry’s] wife for the same reason that Wallis Simpson was unsuitable: she’s divorced and Harry’s grandmother is supreme governor of the CofE”. But lest you were in any doubt, Melanie McDonagh handily clarifies the fact that, “Obviously, seventy years ago, Meghan Markle would have been the kind of woman the Prince would have had for a mistress, not a wife.” Obviously! And obviously, 70 years ago, women lived in their kitchens and had no access to contraception because they were all expected to be baby-making machines. Ah, the good old days.

I know what you’re thinking: why haven’t I mentioned that bastion of truth and completely relevant magazine we all know as Tatler? I’ve been saving the best until last, obviously. Last week, Sophia Money-Coutts wrote a helpful article explaining to us all “Why Britain’s most eligible bachelors are falling for spruce all-American charms”. This is excellent, because I have long been wondering.

Outlining a few, real-life examples of Americans and Brits marrying (can you honestly even believe that’s a thing?), from Prince Harry’s friend Guy Pelly and his American wife Lizzy Simpson to one of the Rothschilds and Nicky Hilton, no less, Money-Coutts attempts to dissect the reasons why American girls like British aristocrats, and vice versa: “'Englishmen get you drunk and snog you and then don't ring when they say they will', says the Park Avenue Princess. 'But they do ring eventually and it is just SO irresistible and you forgive them everything[…].'” Where’s Jane Austen when you need her? Anyway, if you’re STILL confused as to why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married, leave it to Money-Coutts to finally, once and for all, explain things to you: “Some British men, meanwhile, like some American women for one very specific reason. 'American girls will give blowjobs way earlier than British girls because they don't consider it sex,' explains another American heiress who's married to an Old Etonian. 'But they also like that we have polished nails and brush our hair.’”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, Tatler drops that little nugget and you think your head might explode. It’s even followed up with a quote from Edward VII as evidence that this is, in fact, true. So, there you go. What you might have thought was quite nice news for a young couple in love is, it turns out, justification for the Great British Press to feed its own racist, misogynistic and weirdly old-fashioned agenda. Who else feels patriotic?

@hlbw 

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