Good news if you’re one of the lucky few whose bank accounts are currently in the black: you are now officially immune from all of life’s problems. At least, that’s the impression one gets from reading the coverage of the documentary about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan this week. Harry and Meghan: An African Journey was clearly designed as a sort of PR stunt for the young couple but seems to have backfired. Following the Royal pair as they undertook a tour of needy causes across Africa, the documentary drifted instead into an examination of their own mental state.
According to current thinking, this is highly problematic.
“Another magnificent piece of reputation management from whomever is advising Meghan “I’m existing, not living” Markle, between private jet flights, New York “baby showers” and nice holidays in Elton John’s St Tropez villa”, was how one Twitter user summed up the program.
The Spectator similarly put the boot in: “Take your pick as to which bit was the most damaging,” they wrote. “What stuck with me was Meghan’s observation that “I tried to adopt the British sensibility of stiff upper lip…what that does internally is probably really damaging.” It’s a generational voice, that; in a nutshell, the difference in sensibility between Harry and Meghan and the Queen. But for the Queen, it’s never been all about her. And self-pity when you’re surrounded by privilege isn’t a good look.”
Ahh yes, avoid self-pity when you’re surrounded by privilege… because money protects people from existential crises, right? Never mind that here is a young man who lost his mother at a tender age to a baying mob of paparazzi photographers and is now being forced to witness his wife being meted out the same treatment – what he really ought to do is adopt the stiff upper lip of his grandmothers’ generation.
Only, his grandmother’s generation didn’t have rabid media packs preying on fresh meat. She spent her youth in rather more genteel times, when Royals and journalists alike respected each other and kept a suitable distance apart. Even now, no hack is going to harass a nonagenarian – we do still have some standards.
The Speccie continues: “Let’s not rehearse the reasons why the near-universal adulation (didn’t share it myself) for Meghan a year and a half ago when they married turned into scepticism and then criticism, but it wasn’t willful antagonism. She and Harry lost the love because of how they behaved. They almost won back the ground they lost with this trip and the good feeling surrounding the birth of baby Archie but they’ve remarkably turned benign coverage of their visit into shocked coverage of their state of mind. Is that really what they want?”
Why not? It strikes me that the fragile mental health of our nation’s youth is every bit as important as landmines in Africa or education for young black girls. Believe it or not, rich white people can suffer every bit as much as poor black people, and often do.
We in the West are in the midst of an existential crisis of catastrophic proportions. Suicide is a leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally, second only to road deaths. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 20-49, and the male suicide rate increased significantly in 2018, but apparently all of this is by the bye, because Africa still has landmines.
The attack on Harry and Meghan is nothing more than yet another facet of the white-guilt-trip being foisted upon our youth. Surely suffering is suffering, no matter what form it takes? Why is the anguish of an individual any the less because they happen to have been invited to Elton John’s house last weekend? Where is the compassion for these two human beings who, yes, have fabulous wealth, but hey – also have feelings!
One of the great lies told in our society is that money insulates from difficulties. “First world problems,” people scoff when a friend cries into their Starbuck’s latte via Skype. But first world problems are still problems. The cold hard truth is that all the gold in the world won’t save a person who is suffering from a lack of self esteem, or is still dealing with the trauma of losing a parent at a young age. Material goods may be enjoyable, but they do not offer genuine comfort to someone struggling to find meaning or purpose in their life. If anything, they make that search more difficult as the person is dazzled by their distracting charms.
Harry and Meghan should be applauded for being brave enough to be honest about that fact that – despite being surrounded by fabulous wealth – they still suffer hurt, just like the rest of us. Shame on the British media for trying to guilt trip them into trying to put a gloss on that angst.