IF your wager was six months then congratulations! Collect your winnings and treat yourself to something nice. What a great source of national pride it was, how open-armed and open-minded we were at the news our sixth in the line to the throne was stepping out with a mixed-race, divorced, American actress. A sign of the country’s modernity and successful multiculturalism.
I mean, an American. How broadminded. Truly it put the “great” back in Great Britain.
Meghan Markle: beautiful, educated, independently wealthy, a successful career, enough unsavoury relatives to keep the right-wing press in business for the foreseeable and did we mention beautiful?
Lucky Prince Harry. Doing well for a ginger, went the narrative with a matey wink.
It was never going to last.
And here we have it, just six months on from her merry Windsor wedding and the tide of warmth has turned into a froideur.
Up at 5am she is, sending out messages to staff. Efficiency in the face of the dusty creaking of the Establishment is not to be welcomed.
She made Kate Middleton cry, so it goes, over the fitting of little Princess Charlotte’s flower girl dress. Poor Kate, the papers say, was delicate and hormonal due to her blossoming pregnancy.
I have never been a bride but I have been in close proximity to such and let me tell you, what nightmares they can be.
What mountains from molehills are made over petty little details, and that’s without knowing a millions-strong television audience will be judging your every choice.
I’d be willing to start a sweep with the odds on Kate giving no hoots about her daughter’s frock but even if tensions were high – so what? People lay on weddings specifically for the drama.
Here’s another one: nice Kate was here first and yet this upstart Meghan seems rather to have forgotten her place, muscling in, taking the attention, being just as thin and just as pretty but oodles more fashion forward.
Poor Kate. What jealousy must she be feeling as she watches Meghan dazzle while she frumps about in Kensington Palace with three small children and her wedding day years behind her.
It isn’t just Kate that Meghan’s allegedly ticked off. Princess Eugenie and she were said to be embroiled in the Battle of the Windsor Brides.
Meghan is also under siege from Piers Morgan, who keeps appearing to trot out his anecdote about that one time he met Meghan for a drink but then she mysteriously snubbed him.
Yes, it’s a dreadful mystery Piers. Why on earth would any woman ghost you? One can’t think.
Dear sweet mother of Britannia.
Just when you think Britain has matured nicely to the point of being able to accept/not care about the addition of a mixed-race commoner to the royal family, it all begins sliding backwards to petty bitching.
Petty bitching with a nasty racial undertone. Meghan is too assertive, too pushy – too angry black woman. It was too much to ask that the press might just accept her positive entrance into public life then find something better to do.
Instead we have to have embarrassing stories about rifts and frictions between two mature, university-educated women who find themselves in matching extraordinary situations and who, more likely than not, are taking advice and support from one another.
Bring two women together and they’ll be scratching each other’s eyes out, right?
Forget policy, forget politics. The legs were out. “Never mind Brexit,” (how we wish it were that simple) “Who won Legs-it?” slithered the front page of a mid-market publication.
No one, was the answer. While the paper in question was rightly lambasted, the narrative following this nonsensical editorial decision soon turned to tales of “divisions deepen over Legs-it storm.”
For not only could two serious female politicians rely on their physical appearance being the focus of the story, thoughts predictably turned to transforming the situation into one of rivalry between the two women.
Sturgeon was scathing, May called it all a “bit of fun.” And lo, it becomes the age old tale of those women, eh? They can’t agree on anything.
A television adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend has newly begun on Sky Atlantic and it is everything the media narrative about female relationships is not: passionate, nuanced and complicated. Yes, female friendship can encompass rivalry. Yes, it includes gossip and frustration and even betrayal.
But reducing women’s interactions to a guaranteed catfight is not just childish, it’s grossly offensive.
Buckingham Palace has taken the unprecedented step of denying a reported incident where Meghan Markle “bollocked” one of Kate’s aides. But she’s scuppered now. The tale of two warring duchesses will rumble on.
Even if one doesn’t care for the royal family, the narratives projected onto its members say much about where we are in Britain.
This female rivalry trope is outdated, childish. Female friendships are affirming and enriching. They aren’t automatically tantrums, even when tiaras are involved.