Can we ever stop obsessing over the British royals?
More than two centuries after the American colonists filed for divorce against Mad King George—a proceeding more violent and cruel, and a helluva lot bloodier, than even the most toxic of family-court battles—it’s clear that the answer is no.
Oprah’s riveting and occasionally cringe-worthy interview with Meghan Markle and Harry Windsor has—as if the United States needed any more polarization—laid bare a peculiar political virus: the truculent loyalty that ostensibly patriotic media conservatives (at least via Twitter and the occasional op-ed) harbor for the Queen and her famously priggish progeny.
On the other side of the partisan divide are various liberal-leaning celebrities and pundits, along with Joe Biden, president of the United States, who are siding with Meghan and Harry in the uproar.
Judging by the reactions, the interview served as an ideological Rorschach test: If Meghan and Harry got on your nerves, you were likely to loathe Biden as well.
The Duchess of Sussex, in this case, is absorbing nearly all of the body blows from American right-wingers, Fox News personalities, and steadfast Trumpists—mainly for the mixed-race former television actress’ revelation of prejudice among her relatives-by-marriage (although the virulent racism of Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin-by-marriage, Princess Michael of Kent, the daughter of a Nazi SS officer, has long been a matter of public record).
For instance, an article posted Monday morning by the right-wing clearinghouse RedState effusively praised vicious Meghan troll and Donald Trump pal Piers Morgan, whose prime-time talk show years ago on CNN ended in tears, noting “that when it comes to his positions on the mewling and foot-stomping of social justice advocates and the eye-roll worthy self-victimization of some of the most privileged people in the world, he’s spot on.” Morgan, the blustery co-host of Good Morning Britain, has been brutal on Meghan both on TV and in print.
One can only imagine how profoundly triggered RedState would have been by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s subsequent statement of support for Meghan and Harry on behalf of the president: “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage and that's certainly something the president believes.”
Far from praising their profiles in courage, however, Harry and Meghan’s detractors on the right are attacking them for alleged narcissism, lack of self-awareness, dishonesty, and other sins. Morgan continued his barrage of insults on Fox & Friends, where co-host Ainsley Earhardt blurted, “I’ll just say, if I got a castle and I got the jewels and a crown, I wouldn't be leaving!”
Trump acolytes Ric Grenell and Charlie Kirk, both prized guests on Fox News, likened Markle to another Black actor, Jussie Smollett, who fabricated a story to the cops about being attacked on the street by MAGA supporters.
“What an unbelievably ungrateful person you are,” Kirk addressed Markle on his radio show, claiming she had been lovingly embraced by the royals. “Perfect leftist. No gratitude.” As for her revelation to Oprah that a senior royal, during her pregnancy with Archie, expressed concern about the baby’s possible skin tone, “I don’t think anyone said it,” Kirk scoffed. “I think she’s making it up like Jussie Smollett.”
Grenell’s Jussie Smollet moment came in response to Bette Midler’s advice to “Go fuck yourself, you heartless dimwit.” He responded: “Bette Midler loves Meghan Markle. Just as she loved Jussie Smollett.” Midler has been irked by such Grenell claims as “Meghan Markle is the classic American woke progressive. She doesn’t want to do the work but is outraged she doesn’t get the freebies.”
While another Meghan—McCain—professed sympathy for Markle on The View, her husband, Federalist editor Ben Domenech accused the Duchess of being a liar.
“M & H pretend that no royal has had it worse in the press than they have,” former Fox News and NBC personality Megyn Kelly tweeted. “Give me a break. Have you ever seen such privileged people wallowing in their own (perceived) victimhood like this?” Kelly added, “If Oprah doesn’t ask Harry which family member allegedly told him they were worried about how dark Archie’s skin would be, it will be a total dereliction of duty.” (Oprah did ask, but Harry and Meghan didn’t answer.)
And during a remote appearance on Piers Morgan’s ITV morning show, Kelly further reacted to Markle’s heart-wrenching confession that she experienced suicidal ideation by suggesting the duchess simply needed to suck it up. “Even in my lower station in life as a news anchor, the press is brutal. You get punched in the face rhetorically all the time and it’s awful,” Kelly said. “It’s a fact of life you have to learn to deal with. It doesn’t—it shouldn’t drive you to that kind of depression, those kinds of self-lamentations.”
Newsmax anchor Greg Kelly, no relation to Megyn, devoted much of his Twitter feed to a sustained tirade against the Sussexes. “HARRY and MEGHAN wanted to ‘get away from the media’—so they sit down for a PRIME TIME INTERVIEW WITH OPRAH WINFREY. Nit-Wits,” he opined at one point during Sunday night’s two-hour broadcast on CBS. At another point, he raged, “I’m not buying it. NOT BUYING IT. Meghan wanted it all. MONEY GRABBING ROYALS, you Nailed it OPRAH! This is all everyone wants. GOBS of Cash from Netflix. Like the Obama’s. #MeghanMarkle (Life is about storytelling? This is the kind of Crap Netflix PR gives you.)”
Former RedState boss Erick Erickson echoed: “So essentially Harry and Meghan have joined Woke-o Haram and want to cancel the Royal Family for not being woke.”
Conservative controversialist Ben Shapiro, meanwhile, mused, “Imagine being Prince Philip: fighting Nazis, helping preside over the UK during the Cold War and the economic struggles of the 1970s, and now watching your spoiled grandson basically call the institution to which you have silently devoted your life a vile repository of bigotry.”
Having dispensed with Harry, he whaled on Meghan: “We told you not to screw with us, George III. And now we've unleashed our most dangerous resource: B-rate TV actresses wielding wokeness.”