It’s considered unfashionable to truly love the Duchess of Sussex. At best, we’re supposed to offer her a lukewarm defence of not being that bad. Perhaps a little too American, a bit too forthright for the over 50s. But I’ll go one further: I bloody love Meghan. I’m a fan of literally everything she does. She’s the most interesting thing to happen to the royal family in my lifetime; the only thing that’s made me take the vaguest of interest in what the whole outdated clan is up to.
Even the new Netflix documentary – three new episodes of Harry & Meghan dropped today, if you’ve been living under a rock – did nothing to dissuade me. The moment last week’s first three appeared on the streaming platform, certain sections of the UK press linked arms and went to war. The documentary was self indulgent! Boring! Disrespectful to the late queen! When would Harry and Meghan stop whining and get on with their millionaire lives in their high-walled California compound? It felt like I was the only person in the world who enjoyed every bite of what the pair were serving. Admit it: you’ve never seen royals look as happy, fun and free as this pair do in their personal photos and videos.
Despite my love for her, I can see exactly why Meghan Markle so irritates the British establishment. But I’ll be honest: if any of the anecdotes the couple shared in the Netflix documentary were tone deaf or bound to rile up the Meghan haters, that only made me enjoy her more. That much-screenshotted curtsy, for example? This is the first woman that’s entered royal life and dared to suggest that the family’s archaic protocols might not be entirely necessary – and certainly not of interest to the wider world. No, she had not learned to curtsy, nor bought a Debrett’s guide to aristocratic codes of conduct. Just like anyone outside of a tiny percentage of the British upper classes, she has no interest in gestures and codes dreamt up centuries ago.
Meghan, unlike so many trolls – and indeed royals – seems to enjoy her life. There’s a confidence and a flow to her broadcasting cadence. You can tell she knows exactly how to express something: tell a story, describe a feeling. It’s a quality honed by frank chats and an openness to therapy, and one that makes some Britons of a certain generation or political school feel deeply uncomfortable. And it seems to have rubbed off, delightfully, on previously mumbly, quietly angry Harry.
When I started listening to Meghan’s podcast, Archetypes, I was struck by her dramatic, carefully-structured intros and interview style. It’s very reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop content (reportedly an inspiration for Meghan back in her lifestyle blogger days. When you listen to Gwyneth interviewing “rest experts” and jade egg merchants, you can tell she doesn’t give a single, solitary f*** what you think of her. She thinks it’s interesting, she doesn’t worry that it’s self-indulgent, and you, the listener, can simply opt in or out. Both women were raised in LA and taught that they could be whatever they wanted: a princess, presumably, featuring very low on that list.
I listen to people slate Meghan’s content with astonishment. Take Archetypes. How many first-time podcasters can say that they got generous talk time with Mariah Carey, Serena Williams and Paris Hilton in the first series? If Meghan had zero connection with the royal family, we’d be congratulating her on such big interview wins. No. She annoys Brits because she’s composed, talented, has star power and doesn’t make her daily choices based on what Carol from Leicestershire thinks of her.
It’s this unshakeably focused, extremely Californian attitude that I so enjoy in Meghan.
Maybe it depends on what your opinion of the royal family was BM (Before Meghan). For me, they were something akin to a forgotten packet of Jacob’s Cream Crackers, quietly going stale at the back of the nation’s cupboard. Prince Harry was by far the most appealing member, but even he didn’t inspire much interest. Enter Meghan, and suddenly we’ve got style; genuinely-in-love photo calls; plans for supporting excellent causes; shimmering snaps taken under umbrellas! A princess who does yoga, loves her dog and had a life (even a marriage) before joining The Firm? It made them feel remotely exciting.
Watching the first of the new Harry & Meghan episodes, I find just one royal aide seems to have initially agreed with me. Meghan describes how one unnamed staffer described her as a “foreign organism” who had tripped up the royal “fish” (stay with me) on its trajectory. “She explained that, ‘They’ll soon see that it’s stronger, faster, even better with this organism as part of it.” says Meghan. It’s not the best metaphor ever crafted, but it was remarkable to me that this staffer’s choice of words had Meghan as something being absorbed, perhaps even eaten, by the royal machine in order to propel it forward. Instead, as we know, they choked on it, spat it out.
There’s a reason women who have extricated themselves from unpleasant family dynamics and ties relate to Meghan so much. Sometimes you need to shed the weight of other people’s expectations and opinions in order to do great things. Especially – taking Curtseygate as an example – if you were never that in awe of them in the first place.
It’s not hard to see why the exiled princess wants to run her own show. Be her own fish, not the fish food. It’s possible that her style, warmth, perspective and influencer’s flair are superior to any platform the British royals could have offered her. If she’s got more to show us, I say bravo: no matter what the headlines say, I’ll be watching with interest.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies