By now, we should not be surprised at the willingness of those at Spiked, so titled because it should have been long ago, to go beyond the usual bounds of decency: the inhabitants of this strange world can, after all, trace their lineage back to genocide denial and terrorist apology. But the dump that Brendan O’Neill has just taken on the doorstep of the Duchess of Sussex is so far beyond the pale that it has marked a new low, even for him.
This in turn meant that when our free and fearless press relayed the narrative, even the titles normally dripping with hostility were sympathetic: female columnists were lined up to show not merely sympathy, but empathy, at what the Duchess had suffered. That was, though, until O’Neill smelt another contrarian clickbait opportunity.
And so it came to pass. “Do we really need to know about Meghan Markle’s miscarriage?” he sneered, checking the “omit Royal title” box straight away, followed by the preposterous claim that “Harry and Meghan are now invading their own privacy”. No, they know the story will come out anyway, and are making sure a reliable media outlet gets it first.
But do go on. “I thought Markle, and Prince Harry, wanted privacy? To be left alone by the voyeuristic media? And yet here is Markle inviting not only New York Times readers but also people across the world to observe one of the most intimate moments of her life. She’s inviting us right into her hospital room, in fact, where, she tells us, there were ‘cold white walls’ and Harry’s hand was ‘clammy’ as they both wept for their loss. I have never felt more like an intruder into Harry and Meghan’s life than I did reading Meghan’s piece”.
In any case, what is O’Neill driving at? Ah well. You have to wade through an awful lot of the output from his quote generator before he gets to the sly, sneering point. Meghan, he claims, “ties her personal tragedy to the political moment. So not only does she reveal her inner-most pain - she also politicises it, makes it a part of this strange year of disease, lockdown, culture wars and violence. She ties her ‘unbearable grief’ to the post-George Floyd moment”. African-American man’s death tied to the Duchess of Sussex.
“She centres her private grief in the very public world of politics. Her suffering becomes symbolic of the suffering of the world. It is a kind of neo-religious idea: this woman shouldering the hurt of us all” drones Bren. But it isn’t: it’s nudging and winking that the uppity non-white woman is being too political for getting out in front of the tabloids.
Those same tabloids daren’t hatchet Meghan over her revelations. But if Spiked does it, they won’t disapprove. O’Neill’s next press commission may already be on its way.