The respected biographer, Tom Bower, has been giving some extraordinary interviews about his new study of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. His book, the calmly entitled Revenge, is not simply, we learn, a comprehensively negative assessment of the couple: Bower would like it actively to damage them. “This book may hasten a downward trend at which I wouldn’t be sad at all,” he told an enchanted Piers Morgan, “because they pose a real threat to the royal family.”
The public should not, you gather, be reassured by the Sussexes’ departure, some time back, for California. Nor deceived by their very minor role at a jubilee widely considered a triumph for the royal family. Nor taken in by the couple’s replacement occupation, now they are non-working royals, of supplying bland, homiletic content to US clients. It is not enough that every display of Sussex sanctimony is already made safe by Bower’s tireless allies in the UK media, with an answering volley from royal experts and body language professionals. Harry’s recent address to the UN was, for instance, immediately brought down with blasts of Sarah Vine and, still struggling to get over Meghan’s ghosting, Piers Morgan.
Bower still scents danger from the deceptively dormant Meghan, “a very scheming, very clever woman”.
After watching her with Oprah, he concluded: “This woman is doing something quite terrible to Britain and Harry has fallen in love with her, you know, in a ludicrous way, and has gone along as her accomplice.” If only Harry had fallen in love with the former actress in a sensible way, like, say, Prince Charles did with his now-venerated Camilla Parker Bowles.
So if Bower’s book, no less than the related interviews, seems suffused with a wild malice, perhaps it comes from a good and loyal place. It is to give the Queen a “final happiness” (that “Meghan and Harry seem determined to deny”) that Bower, as well as detailing Meghan’s ex-lovers, her early hustling for acting roles and determined forging of a personal brand, is compelled to supplement his case against her with insults. He volunteers, for example, that when the former Suits star was interviewed by Larry King, “Meghan looked unusually unattractive with greasy hair, rumpled clothes and peaky eyes”. Finding this still harder to accept than Bower’s conviction that reliance on notorious Markle-haters is a persuasive approach, I had a look. Judge for yourself, but to this viewer the contrast between Bower’s description and Markle’s actual (appealing) appearance is something his editors might, for the sake of reader confidence, have checked on. As it is, they must already hope that a response from one quoted detractor, Sam Kashner, published in the Times Last week, will be the last to raise doubts about the authorial bias. “I found Ms Markle,” Kashner wrote, “to be exceptionally warm and gracious and admired her intelligence and her remarkable courage, as I still do.” Bower retorts: “That just shows the power of Meghan.”
If the reader sometimes feels more balance might have strengthened his case, the experienced Bower perhaps felt a greater responsibility to awaken a nation yet to comprehend the threat of a controlling woman who is tellingly – a point not previously stressed – not tall. Schemingly, Meghan often wears high heels, but Bower is not fooled. If he’s not the only tall man to betray some pride in having grown himself so successfully, it’s still unusual to see this quality transformed into a royal threat-detector. At Wimbledon with Kate: “The physical comparison was unflattering to Meghan. On her own, Meghan’s radiance won universal applause but beside the taller, authoritative future queen the duchess appeared diminished.” Perhaps this could be deleted in any volume likely to be picked up by the Queen (5’3”), at this delicate point in her reign?
But no logic, in this protracted bitchfest, governs what Bower won’t gleefully cite in the Sussexes’ disfavour, while overlooking similar lapses among his favorites. Harry’s Oprah suit is “ill-fitting”. Thomas Markle looks… like Thomas Markle (the more than sartorial shortcomings of Princess Michael’s”blackamoorbrooch are likewise ignored). The Sussexes’ favorite journalist Omid Scobie, has a face, Bower adds by way of another irrelevant ad hominem, that “changed after working in Japan”. Presumably surgery is being referenced here, as opposed to the climate. “Some would say,” Bower adds, “that as the royal editor for Harper’s Bazaarthe Anglo-Iranian is a propagandist.”
Whether intended as an elegant malice-diffuser or handy gossip-vehicle the some said/would say locutions perform heroically throughout the book, as in one passage about a charity executive: “Some would even say he was besotted by her.”
Some would say, incidentally, that it’s unfortunate in a book that twits Harry for using a wrong word (“recipe” for formula) that Omid Scobie appears on one page as “Omar Scobie”.
To turn to the “explosive” new content promised by Bower’s publishers, the most prized revelations appear to be: Meghan was mean on a fashion shoot; the Queen was glad Meghan didn’t attend the funeral; the Vogue staff didn’t like her either; Meghan, with an outsider’s disregard for British niceties, vexed some of her betters with complaints about their hateful language.
Definitely new is Bower’s diagnosis, without any obvious evidence, of Meghan’s “terrible envy”. With his legal hat on, he suggests that an upheld judgment against a Mail newspaper’s publication of her private letter happened because, “as a class, Britain’s judges were unsympathetic to the Mail newspaper group.”
Returning to the facts, the author concludes that the couple’s messy departure for the US brought the Queen, Charles and William together. “They were forging a united front against the Sussexes.”
Some would say – to borrow again from Bower – that this observable royal resilience makes a further nonsense of his claims about vengeful, Montecito-based “agents of destruction”. As for his book’s contention that the whiny – though threatening – couple never had a thing to complain about: if they didn’t then, they do now.