A few years ago, I developed a problem with insomnia. I would go for days with just a couple of hours of sleep in my tank. It’s getting better now that certain life transitions have finished, but I still do wake up at 2am from time to time. My classic way of handling sleepless nights is to get some water, open the window a crack, and start reading the gossip blogs on my phone — much better than opening my email and dealing with editor requests.
These gossip blogs aren’t the usual mainstream Hollywood websites and news sources, like People or ET. Most of the stuff there is just rewritten press releases from a celebrity’s communications professionals. I typically start at the blind gossip websites, where they have a disclaimer at the bottom saying that they are “entertainment,” which saves them from lawsuits. The game is that they leave out the names of the item of gossip, commenters have to guess who it is, and then a few months later they might reveal who the celebrity actually is.
Now, you might scoff and say that websites with no editors or accountability are a highly questionable source of information. Yes, they are. And one should be fairly skeptical about their posts, but at the same time, they were onto Harvey Weinstein long, long before the New York Times and other MSM articles. The blogger at Crazy Days and Nights, an entertainment lawyer (here’s his twitter address), has exposed Weinstein, Spacey, and a whole bunch of other Hollywood sleeze bags – many of whom are still under the radar of the press and law enforcement. Sometimes things get a sloppy at that website though, so then I turn to Blind Gossip, which is less prolific, but has fewer spelling errors.
Those websites and Netflix’s The Crown got me hooked on royal family gossip. Those two blind gossip websites have nothing good to say about Meghan since her engagement to Harry. Typically, if I’m still awake, I follow up with Lainey’s gossip to get Meghan’s side and The Daily Mail to get the crazy side (more on this in a minute).
DISCLAIMER: Before I get accused of being a Karen for picking on poor Meghan, let me just say that I’m not on Team Sussex or Team Queen. Honestly, I don’t care about any of them, other than for the pure gossip of it all. I was never the girl who had the shoebox of pictures of Princess Di (a friend of mine showed up to college with that). I do have a problem that we have two of them here in our country, who still insist on calling themselves Duke and Duchess. But beyond that, I’m here purely for the “OMG, rich people destroying themselves” drama. And also as someone who used to teach Media Politics. If I was still teaching that class, there would be a section on Harry and Meghan.
Before we start dishing the actual dirt on H and M, let’s talk about the peculiar relationship between the Queen and the public in England. In our country, our president is both the head of state ( the living symbol of the country, like the eagle or a flag) and the head of government (the head of executive branch, who actually does shit). In England, that job is divided up between the Queen (head of state) and the Prime Minister (head of government). As head of state, the Queen’s job is to be an apolitical figurehead who is trotted out for various functions in return for a generous subsidy from taxpayers, some extremely nice castles, and obsequious bowing and saluting. Most importantly, she gets to keep centuries of ill gotten gains from her ancestors.
Another part of this Faustian bargain is that people and their press own her. The Queen and her whole family belong to the people, and the English people get to salute her or spit on her, whenever the mood hits them. Now, I am not entirely sure that I would be happy to deal with that level of scrutiny, but I might in exchange for some fancy castles and clothes. Shrug. It beats working for a living, I suppose. (I’ve blogged about this before.)
Last year, a Buzzfeed article said that the British press was racist, because it picked on Meghan and loved Kate. Yeah, no. I might agree with the claim that women in the Royal family get more scrutiny – both positive and negative – and so it’s rather sexist, but the press has certainly put Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker-Bowles through the wringer as well.
This is a very, very small sample of negative and/or outrageous coverage of Kate and Camilla: they posted pictures of Kate’s boobs. Camilla fights with the Queen. Kate wears too much black eyeliner. Kate spends too much money on clothes. Kate’s fingers aren’t the same length. Something is wrong with her toes, too. Sometimes, they pick on the dudes, too. William is a day drinker (good man). And a lot of the coverage of Meghan was boiler-plate, tabloid gushing about her looks and clothes. (I’ll add more links later.)
There’s no doubt that Meghan received a lot of press – both positive and negative – because of this weird relationship that the royals have with the people and the press. She may have been unprepared for that and annoyed that she didn’t have enough control over her own narrative. She said that’s why she wanted to leave. If that’s true, then leave she must. Nobody on the English side has a problem with someone saying that they can’t deal with the press, so they are stepping away from the Head of State jobs.
Yet, it’s hard to truly believe that Harry and Meghan were really that bothered with the press, since they are doing a lot of press now. They employed a Hollywood-based PR company to make sure that everyday there’s something in the news about them. They’re doing Oprah and gushing about how good it is to talk to her. In fact, she seems to think that the problem in England is that she couldn’t talk to the press. So, I’m confused.
But what really caused the problem with the Queen is that Meghan wanted the “goodies” of being Head of State, or at least a lesser branch of the Head of State — the titles, castles, vacations, crowns, tv shows, carriages, designer dresses, servants, staff — without the unwritten exchange between royals and the people. Again, the unwritten contract is in exchange for the pomp and money, a royal person must deal with press scrutiny, can’t accept gifts or independently earn a living, can’t turn their office into a brand, and must cut a lot of ribbons outside supermarkets in Wales. According to the gossip blogs, Meghan didn’t want the press coverage or the ribbon cutting. She wanted the brand and free designer dresses. She wanted to be Michelle Obama. And that’s where things went south.