One of the things which has bugged me the most about the Sussex saga is the arrogance and ignorance with which the British media regards America, American media and American celebrity. We were happy that “an American girl” married into the British royal family, because Americans are fascinated by royalty. We don’t have royalty, we have dynasties and celebrities, which is all the Windsors are: a dynastic line of celebrities, all within the same massively dysfunctional family. Americans see that and we’re like “oh, I get it, that’s cool.” The British media thinks it works both ways though – that Americans treat our celebrities and our dynasties the same way they treat royalty. And that’s not the case, at all. I suspect most Americans like the Sussexes and wish them well and that’s about it. We don’t need to “approve” of them. Harry and Meghan are not politicians. They’re not running for Prom King and Queen of America. They’re just celebrities and humanitarians now and we’ll consume what products they give us (podcasts, Netflix docu-series, books) and gossip about them like celebrities and that’s it.
I bring this up because Salt Island has no chill. Camilla Tominey at the Telegraph wrote a new piece for the Telegraph: “How Meghan lost America: The Duchess is giving increasingly outspoken interviews, but is that because the people of the US and its media have lost interest?” Oh, they’re really worried. Tominey’s piece is all about how a Murdoch-owned paper (the NY Post) ran a negative cover about Meghan, thus the Sussexes are unpopular in America, thus everyone in America loves William and Kate. It’s both pathetic and hilarious. Some highlights:
Meghan is just giving interviews to get noticed! With a podcast to promote amid talk of her star “waning” in the US, there is a growing sense that the only way the Duchess can get noticed these days is by continuing to wage war against the Windsors. From her unsubstantiated claim that the British media called her children the “n-word”, to her suggestion that the couple’s mere “existence” upset the Royal hierarchy, as with Oprah Winfrey, the outbursts appear designed to generate maximum publicity in the UK. That way, the story is guaranteed to get picked up by the all-important US breakfast shows – even if there is little to say about the interview beyond Meghan’s criticisms of The Firm.
Tabloid fodder: As one US TV insider explained: “Meghan is sort of regarded as tabloid fodder these days. I wouldn’t say her popularity has waned but her star draw has. She was riding on the cusp of being the Duchess, but a lot of their projects have failed and some of the lustre has gone. It would be unfair to say she’s not popular but we are doing less on her. We are more likely to do something on William and Kate now.”
Americans are obsessed with the Queen, not Meghan: Others say that taking aim at the Queen and the Royal family was always a risky move. According to another source who works for one of the big American networks: “People get the US wrong. They think they are obsessed with Meghan and Diana but it’s the Queen they are really obsessed with. When it touches on criticising the monarchy – that has been quite damaging. People here have sort of been asking themselves: ‘Would you do that to your in-laws?’”
British polling on Americans? There are increasing signs of fatigue over stories about the Sussexes’ time in Britain. In July, another survey found that just a quarter (25 per cent) of Americans were “very or fairly interested” in reading Harry’s forthcoming autobiography, compared to 14 per cent of Britons who said the same. The poll found that more than half of Americans (51 per cent) had no interest at all, compared to two thirds of Brits.
Snobbery about Meghan? “There’s actually a bit of snobbery about Meghan now in the US because she’s become a celebrity story rather than a news one,” said one journalist who works for an American media company. She recalls the Duchess’s campaign for paid parental leave, where she wrote letters to senior US politicians, prompting speculation she was pursuing a career in politics. “We rang (US Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s office to see if they wanted to respond and they just laughed. “She’s not being taken seriously by Washington at all. She’s not Michelle Obama – she doesn’t have that pedigree so where does she fit in?”
Keen Kate, Queen of America: Commentators stress that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are still hugely admired in the US. The couple recently appointed Lee Thompson, who climbed the ranks at US mass media empire NBC, as their new PR chief, proving their interest in maintaining strong relations with the American public. “Kate is flying in America in the same way she’s flying in Britain, because she’s modelling herself on the Queen,” says the journalist.
Peggington’s trip to America: Next month, just a few weeks after Harry and Meghan’s visit to England, Prince William will be visiting New York for a summit for his Earthshot Prize – followed in December by a trip to Boston to present it. It is yet to be confirmed whether he will be accompanied by Kate or their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. But such a Stateside outing is likely to pose a significant challenge to Harry and Meghan’s faltering status as the self-styled King and Queen of America.
A few things. Meghan spoke to The Cut because she’s promoting her podcast. I genuinely hope she does more promotion and more interviews! And the reason she’s talking about the Windsors is because she’s being asked. The Sussexit was one of the biggest gossip/royal/news stories of the past twenty years, and the fact that Harry and Meghan got out alive and they’re able to speak about their experiences is incredible and newsworthy.
The fact that the Today Show sent Hoda Kotb to cover the Invictus Games and interview Harry should tell you a lot about the American interest in all things Sussex. The fact that Harry inked a book deal and he’s gotten millions of dollars worth of free promotion via the British media should tell you a lot. In fact, the whole reason why the British media is currently trying to convince the British public that America is over the Sussexes is because they’re all terrified that the Sussexes have way more credibility than the media. That people will want to read Harry’s book and not some rabid royal reporter’s book. As for Meghan specifically… she understands American celebrity (considering she is one) and she understands how to promote her projects. The American audience understands what she’s doing too.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.