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Is Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, too modern for the British press?

5 27 95

Seventeen years ago, I was pregnant in New York and some lovely friends held a baby shower. One American mate bought me some tiny Gucci bootees: I still have them, pristine and boxed, as a memento of a lovely, mad time.

I remembered them when I read some of the reactions to the trip to New York by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, when her not just generous, but wildly wealthy, friends – such as Serena Williams and the Clooneys – coughed up a reported £330,000 for a baby shower in a top Manhattan hotel. No public money was spent on Meghan’s party, unless you count the security detail for members of the royal family. Yet Libby Purves, in a fabulously damning piece in the Times, wrote that while such “daft flaunting of wealth” was to be expected among stars, “the clash comes when a free-spending American TV celebrity, the independent Ms Markle, becomes the British Queen’s granddaughter-in-law”.

Just consider the adjectives in that sentence; Markle is not just flashing the cash (free-spending) but foreign, famous and, possibly worst of all, an “independent Ms”.

It has all underlined the growing sense in much of the British media that Meghan is somehow just not “one of us”.

The relationship between the royals and the press could, perhaps, withstand the relentless scrutiny of Meghan’s body – last week we learned, courtesy of Mail Online, that her belly button has been pushed “out” by the baby – but not the publication of a five-page handwritten letter written from Meghan to her father. Kensington Palace is now considering legal action against the Mail on Sunday similar to that brought successfully by Prince Charles when the paper published his diaries in 2006.

Yet less than a year ago the marriage of Harry to this mixed-race divorcee with a successful career was being held up as a joyous coming-together of old and new. The event was heralded as the start of a “new era” by the New York Times and a “breath of fresh air” showing just how progressive and open British society could be. How clever of “The Firm” to reinvigorate itself in this way with a sprinkling of Hollywood........

© The Guardian