Tuesday, 7 Jul 2020

Sarah Carey: 'If Meghan wanted privacy, what on earth made her believe she'd get that by marrying Harry'

Donald Trump and the Sussexes have much in common this week. Both attacked their mortal enemies without considering the wrath that would be unleashed in revenge.

The difference is the Iranians will be easier to talk down than the British press. If it is let, Iran will do a deal with the west, because it has to be practical. Also, no one wants a war, so US allies and enemies in the region will seek de-escalation.

But the British tabloids, not to mention the increasingly unhinged ‘Daily Telegraph’, will hunt Meghan down to the end of her days. There will be no mercy. And wars are good for papers. They can keep attacking – forever.

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Normally, when the Americans want to deal with a bad egg in the Middle East, they get a friendly neighbour in the region do it for them. It is denied. No one believes them, and life trundles on.

But Trump went on a full frontal attack and took credit for it. What did the US president think Iran would do?

His entire Iranian strategy has been based on belligerence and withdrawal. He keeps provoking the country, rather than working with it and it just makes everything worse. It sounds paradoxical, but you have to work with your enemies, not against them. So it is with the British press. I’m not in the royal family – though I think I’d make an excellent princess – and even I know how it works. The papers have space to fill and stories to write. The smart royals churn out the photos, wear lovely clothes to public events and hug sick people on regular occasions.

In return, they get to go on their holidays and keep servants. They need to avoid dodgy sheiks, prostitutes, paedophiles and keep their affairs discreet.

  • Read More: Queen orders that row over Harry and Meghan’s future be solved in 72 hours

It’s a fairly straightforward bargain. Cheer up the proletarians by wearing nice frocks and being posh. You’ll take some flak from time to time, but keep smiling and it’ll pass over. By distracting the masses from politics, the system is maintained. Members of the royal family are social soothers. That’s their job.

Kate and William have nailed it.

But Meghan rebelled from the start. In fairness, she had the crazy situation of her father to deal with, but if he was willing to talk to the press she should blame him for that, not the ‘Daily Mail’.

I understood her wanting to keep the birth of Archie private. I always thought Kate presenting herself in a pretty dress and blow-dried hair five minutes postpartum was horrific. Although it achieved its objective and she was left alone.

Meghan and Harry not only concealed the details of Archie’s delivery, but went on to make a ridiculous fuss about the christening. How hard is it to show us a photo of a baby in Queen Victoria’s gown and a list of aristocratic godparents with preposterous names?

If Meghan wanted privacy, what on earth made her believe she’d get that by marrying Harry? What information was she missing?

Meanwhile, royal correspondents who cover the sanitised public events say Harry is consistently angry and catty with them. Every time he looks at a photographer all he sees is a picture of his mother dead in a car. His anger at the current generation, who had nothing to do with that, can be filed under “triggered”.

  • Read More: Harry and Meghan will drive hard bargain as they plan celebrity route to riches

But that was William’s mother too, which proves the axiom; it’s not what happens to you in life that matters, but how you deal with it. Harry is still angry and that anger is proving self-destructive. That happens to many people.

Other royals get to know the correspondents and hold drinks parties to keep them onside. As Winston Churchill famously said, “It is better to jaw-jaw than war-war.” Alas, Harry went to war.

But before you attack your enemy, it’s worthwhile to consult Sun Tzu. He said: “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him.”

If Harry and Meghan couldn’t cope with the existing attention, it’s clear they aren’t ready to receive the press as enemies. They made everything worse, not better.

But what will really hurt them is the consequence of alienating Harry from his family. No one should drive a wedge between their spouse and their family. Harry may have lost his mother, but he has a brother, a father and a grandmother.

As a good husband, he should’ve helped Meghan cope with the attention rather than ruminating on the coverage. As a good wife, she should encourage him to stay close to his family.

Sun Tzu also said the general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.

Trump clearly made no calculations beyond taking out a bad guy would go down well with his base, which is probably true. What will save him now is the self-preservation of other actors in the region who will persuade Iran to keep a lid on their anger.

The Sussexes have also clearly made few calculations and they just alienated their best ally – the queen. Having failed to calculate, there is no way they can win this battle. Defeat is inevitable. Retreat is their only hope.

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