The wall-to-wall coverage of Harry and Meghan is our fault

by Bill Ralston / 07 December, 2017
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Prince Harry and royal fiancée Meghan Markle. Photo/Getty Images

You could detonate an atomic bomb as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walk down the aisle and no one would notice.

Two sleek dolphins just swam past my front window. On their way back from Cape Kidnappers, where I suspect they had a nice breakfast of kahawai, they were moving gracefully and fast. I am now staring fixedly out at the bay, waiting for them to return. I have decided to name them Harry and Meghan.

Every now and then, the world goes mad over royalty and the latest Windsor engagement has lit the fuse for another explosion of media hyperbole.

The red-haired and mischievous Harry has long been reporters’ favourite member of the royals and the American actress Meghan Markle is not exactly a woman of homely appearance, so I am expecting the tabloids to go big on the story until they reach an orgasmic crescendo the day of the wedding.

It is our fault, because the tabloids know we lap it up. In 1981, I did a story for the late TV news bulletin on an ugly and violent clash between anti-apartheid protesters and police outside Parliament. I ran home to bask in the glow of my flatmates’ appreciation of my splendid reportage, only to find them spellbound by live coverage of the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. None of them saw my tale of the carnage in Molesworth St. The were not interested in anything but what was happening in St Paul’s Cathedral.

It will be the same when Harry and Meghan tie the knot. You could detonate an atomic bomb on Lambton Quay as they walk down the aisle and no one would notice.

That a divorcée of African-American heritage can be engaged to the fifth in line to the British throne suggests that attitudes have moved on a bit since 1936, when Edward VIII abdicated so he could marry twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. That their BBC interviewer for the big announcement was a Muslim mother of three indicates an even broader shift in society over the past couple of generations.

Harry reportedly proposed while the couple cooked a chook in his Kensington Palace apartment, where presumably they have been living together.

Importantly, Meghan gets on well with the Queen’s notoriously yappy, nippy corgis: they habitually bark at Harry, but not at her.

The couple, tipped to become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will have their own pair of rescue dogs that look like mongrels. That is just the first piece of Harry-and-Meghan trivia that will trickle out over the next few months.

Once the media exhausts the almost unlimited fund of stories about them, including nail-biting speculation about whether she will be a runaway bride, it will regurgitate sad Charles and Diana features before then churning out a few more sagas about the perils of Prince William and Kate.

It may be time to stop following the news until at least the next European spring. I will go back to looking for more sightings of the aquatic Harry and Meghan.

This article was first published in the December 9, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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