Oh boy. Where do we start?
Harry and Meghan marked the UK’s Remembrance Sunday today by hiring a freelance photographer, shutting down the Los Angeles National Cemetery, and doing a photoshoot of themselves looking sombre and placing flowers and a wreath in the empty cemetery. These photos were officially released by their office. Since they don’t have active public social media channels, Omid Scobie’s Harper’s Bazaar story and tweets were the most “official” story of the couple’s visit. Omid even got quotes and private details from “sources close to the Sussexes”. I wonder who!
From Omid’s Harper’s Bazaar article:
Harry—who wore his 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, 2008 Afghanistan Operational Service medal, and 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal—wrote a message with the wreath that read, “To all of those who have served, and are serving. Thank you.”
A source close to the Sussexes tells BAZAAR, “It was important to the duke and duchess to be able to personally recognise Remembrance in their own way, to pay tribute to those who have served and to those who gave their lives.” Poignantly, the cemetery the couple chose to visit is opposite the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health Care System building, which was used by Meghan’s grandfather, Alvin Ragland, after he served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Omid also confirmed that freelance photographer Lee Morgan was the person hired by the Sussexes to go with them to the cemetery and take the pictures that were released by Harry and Meghan’s press office. Behold this tweet by Omid:
Lee Morgan’s website states that he “specializes in fashion and celebrity portraiture.” His past clients include 2020 presidential hopeful and man who said “Slavery was a choice” Kanye West, and Facebook. Two problematic people/companies to be working with if your pet projects are electing Joe Biden and eliminating online hate speech, no? I doubt Harry and Meghan thought that much about it.
I see what Harry and Meghan are trying to do here. They think that because they hired a Black Brazilian photographer to take these photos, that they will be immune from criticism. But that’s not how it works. It’s also so strange that Omid and the press release were so quick to mention Lee Morgan and link to his Instagram? To me, that says that Lee Morgan was not paid in actual money but “exposure”. I have absolutely no proof that this is the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. And if it came out that that’s what happened, that would be a doubly bad look because it would be Harry and Meghan trying to get unpaid labour from a person of colour in exchange for attachment to their brand, which could or could not give him more opportunities and money. It’s just a mess.
The response to the photos and accompanying story were, to be polite, mixed.
The Daily Mail posted a story about the photos with this passive aggressive headline (see below). This is the British equivalent of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Amsterdam dinner party where Kim Richards calls Eileen Davidson a beast and tells Lisa Rinna that her husband is stepping out on her. It’s aggressive, is what I’m saying.
About an hour after the photos were sent out and the Bazaar story went up online, Omid tweeted this:
I guess the response wasn’t what Harry or Meghan or Omid were hoping for.
I didn’t think I would have to make this subtext text, but here it is: Remembrance Sunday and the events surrounding it aren’t PR opportunities. They are sombre, sober moments of reflection on the sacrifices of people who gave their lives for the greater good. The British Royal Family doesn’t do memorial services for armed forces members or veterans because it looks good. They do it because they’re grateful for the sacrifices that those people made for the country. The idea that members of the BRF would publicize or try to capitalize on such a moment is unthinkable.
It also goes to show that Harry and Meghan only want to be considered members of the royal family when it benefits them specifically. Apparently Harry reached out to the royal family to ask if he could have a wreath laid on his behalf at the official cenotaph Remembrance Day ceremony. That request was refused. And why wouldn’t it have been – Harry and Meghan made very clear that they want to be considered normal people, not royals. They abandoned their posts as patrons of their charities. Harry particularly was seen to abandon the thousands of service members and veterans he worked to help when he stepped away from the UK Royal Family. Why should a deserter get to lay a wreath? In abstentia, no less? Yeah, that’s going to be a no from Queen Elizabeth. And Prince Charles and Prince William and Buckingham Palace. You want to live in California? Fill your boots.* But you can’t have it both ways.
*Fill your boots is Atlantic Canadian slang for “do as much of something as you would like”.
Across the pond, the Windsors held a quiet, sombre Remembrance Sunday ceremony. Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth paid her respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. It’s the 100th anniversary of the tomb.
Today, Charles and William laid wreaths at the Cenotaph. Queen Elizabeth, Camilla and Kate stood on the balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, physically distanced.
Thanks for reading. Do you agree that H&M’s photos weren’t the most tasteful? Do you think the main thing is that Harry marked Remembrance Sunday in some way? What could Harry and Meghan have done to mark the occasion that didn’t involve hiring a photographer? Let me know here, on Instagram, Twitter, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe and wear a mask.