A big fat belly laugh. That’s what I needed on a Monday morning. It’s what we all need right now. But when what started out as a low, throaty rumble at the breakfast table yesterday morning built up to a wild cackle of incredulity, I was afraid I’d never be able to stop.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry “have agreed to star in a fly-on-the-wall Netflix reality series, with cameras following them for three months”. Like you, I had to read the headline twice. Because, yes, this is the same couple who moved 5,462 miles away to escape the “public interest” and “media intrusion” that violated their “right to privacy”.
Yes, these are the same two who decided to “step back” from the limelight and create “space” for themselves by carving out an “independent” and “progressive new role” in Hollywood – that go-to city for discreet people who live in fear of being “commoditised”, and an industry that more than any other epitomises Garbo’s heartfelt plea: “I want to be alone.”
Their spokesman has now denied plans for such a documentary, but can they be surprised that such stories are circulating? The Sussexes’ decision to embark on four separate lawsuits against the British tabloids was nothing less than a battle cry for freedom, and Meghan and Harry were still mid-diatribe and busy stressing the universal significance of their fight against a media intent on invading their privacy when a courier pulled up outside their £26 million Santa Barbara mansion with a £112 million cheque. Picture it as one of those giant lottery winner cheques, only instead of the ‘fingers crossed’ logo, there in the top left is a big red ‘N’ for Netflix.
Oscar Wilde was right: we are all in the gutter, but Meghan and Harry are looking at the stars. And we can be forgiven for speculating that the light from those stars is so blinding, so mesmerising, that when the nice Netflix executive casually mentioned how good it would be to include a “Keeping Up With the Sussexes” reality show as part of their megawatt multi-year deal, the intensely private pair didn’t think twice.
This, after all, is the couple whose public wrangle with the Queen over using the ‘Sussex Royal’ brand to flog their wares abroad had me lunging for the sanitiser, so grubby did the wording of their statement make one feel. This is the couple who decided to announce their new endeavour, Archewell, in the midst of a global pandemic, and a woman who halfway through a documentary to raise awareness for war-scarred South Africans saw fit to wonder aloud why “not many people have asked if I’m OK”.
So it’s hard not to picture a royal Kardashians reality show as being every bit as tasteful as KUWTK, with a heavy dose of ethical and environmental moralising thrown in. I can see the opening titles now. It’s a Vogue-style montage combining effortless chic with effort-filled attempts to do good.
As the show’s theme tune plays (Laissez-Moi Tranquille by Serge Gainsbourg), Meghan and Harry can be seen in various degrees of cutaway mesh swimwear drawing up spreadsheets that will allow them in one fell swoop to save the whales, the elephants, the ocean floor and the homeless – all from a daybed by their Santa Barbara infinity pool.
From there, we move on to Meghan and Harry penning an impassioned speech about climate change aboard the private jet Harry affectionately calls ‘PJ’ – before changing into crisp his ‘n’ hers white shirts as they prepare to take their rightful places on the Nobel Peace Corps.
Meghan and Harry getting a standing ovation as they storm the stage at the first US presidential debate to make a rousing, profoundly unconstitutional speech against “hate”, “negativity” and President Trump. Megan and Harry baking homemade vegan cupcakes for sex workers in their Carrara marble kitchen, each one painstakingly iced with messages of empowerment: “You are special”, “You are strong”…
Along with the light that Keeping Up With the Sussexes aims to “shine on people and causes around the world”, Meghan “hopes viewers will get to see the real her,” according to a source. And, again, I had to read this twice. Because we’ve had nothing but the real Meghan for over two years now. Any more reality from either her or Harry and I’ll be forced to take out my own legal injunction against these “fascinating insights” in a desperate bid to find my freedom – from the Sussexes.
However, it is not to be. A spokesman has informed Hello! magazine that “the Duke and Duchess are not taking part in any reality shows”. Then again, they categorically denied a move to America. The idea that their show will, in fact, be a “docu-series” only brings on another bout of hysterical laughter.
You can come back from almost everything: embarrassing and rude behaviour, poor judgement and even, possibly, hypocrisy – but not derision. Once you’ve become a laughing stock, once every decision just makes you even more cackleworthy than the last – what then? Well, then, you might as well do a reality TV show.