As you know, Meghan Markle was not able to travel to London for the funeral of her husband’s grandfather, Prince Philip. This makes sense, as she is in her third trimester of pregnancy and the flight (Los Angeles to London) is a long one. There has been some speculation that her pregnancy excuse was convenient, as she likely didn’t want to come back to the UK or see members of the BRF anyway.
Either way, it seemed to work out for everyone that Meghan stayed behind while Harry boarded a plane back to the UK. It would be the first time he would see any members of his family since he moved to Montecito and publicly slammed his family and the institution of monarchy to Oprah Winfrey on CBS.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, Harry spent the vast majority of his time before the funeral in isolation inside Frogmore Cottage, the house he and Meghan left for California. As far as I can tell, no photos of Harry on his trip to London or during his isolation period in Windsor were published. He flew under the radar. The first time we saw Harry was during the procession to St. George’s Chapel for the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Philip. Harry and his brother William walked to the chapel with Peter Phillips in between them. The focus was on Prince Philip and the funeral service that had been planned to honour him.
However, three minutes before the actual funeral started, an entertainment and royals reporter for HuffPost in the States, Carly Ledbetter, posted the following Tweet:
It’s pretty tacky for the Sussexes, through a spokesperson, to have given information on Harry’s medals worn at his grandfather’s funeral, especially three minutes before the funeral was due to start.
None of the other members of the BRF or their offices gave background information on what they were wearing to broadcasters. They know that there are so many broadcasters and reporters and bloggers looking at them that someone will figure out what they are wearing and if there is any significance to it. This happened yesterday at the funeral when numerous outlets reported that Kate was wearing jewellery on loan from the Queen, and that Lady Louise Windsor was wearing an equestrian brooch as a tribute to her grandfather, who loved horses. There is no need to put out a statement about it.
But I gave Harry and Meghan the benefit of the doubt on it. Maybe their office had been inundated with requests about the medals Harry would be wearing. Maybe they sent a generic email to everyone who asked. Maybe they sent it 12 hours before the funeral, and HuffPost decided to post about it three minutes before the funeral.
But then, six minutes into the funeral, Jack Royston, a Newsweek reporter who is friendly with the Sussexes, published a story and posted about Meghan commemorating the loss of Prince Philip by watching the funeral in Montecito and sending a handwritten note to Windsor Castle.
This is the moment that the benefit of the doubt for Meghan and Harry went away. Two stories in nine minutes, timed to be published at the beginning of the funeral service, is not a coincidence. Harry and Meghan, via their publicists, were leading a PR push for themselves, literally during Harry’s grandfather’s funeral service.
But wait, We (and Harry and Meghan’s publicists at Sunshine Sachs) are just getting started.
Toward the end of the funeral service (check the timestamp on the published story and the Tweet), Harper’s Bazaar published, and Sussex-favoured royal reporter Omid Scobie retweeted, the following story:
This story is chock full of details that only Harry and (more likely) Meghan could have given to their favourite reporters. Here are some of the details about the “custom” wreath that they sent to Prince Philip’s funeral, and how thoughtful and involved Meghan and Harry were in the design of the wreath:
It is believed that the wreath described in the Harper’s story is the second wreath from the right (the purple one). This is because we know that Meghan’s wreath was laid in St. George’s Chapel with other wreaths from members of the family; and we also know that a lot of the flowers mentioned in the Harper’s story (bear’s breeches, campanula, sea holly, lavender) are purple. I want to point out that no other members of the royal family, dignitaries, or diplomats sent out press information about the wreaths that they sent to the Queen or the rest of the family. They just sent the wreaths, as you do.
Back to the article. It is full of inane commentary on how the wreath was “hand-made” “custom” for the service. Yes, flower arrangements are always hand-made. And at royal funerals, all wreaths being commissioned by royal family members, dignitaries, or diplomatic officials are custom-made for the occasion. You can’t just call 1-800-FLOWERS and ask for a medium-sized wreath to be sent to Windsor Castle. And, like I said before, no one else is giving a detailed look into why their wreath looks the way it looks. The Canadian people sent a wreath. It was made of red and white flowers, because those are the colours of our country’s flag. Nobody had to say it explicitly, because it’s not about the Canadian people. It’s about sending a token of condolence and commemoration.
The Harper’s article also mentions that the flowers for the wreath were “locally sourced”. Locally sourced. In London? One of the world’s largest cities, which contains thousands of florists and presumably every type of flower you could ever imagine to put in a wreath? Well, colour me impressed. It’s these sort of meaningless grammatical flourishes that stink of the American PR machine. Meghan and Harry are trying to get extra credit for their wreath having been made by a human person, designed especially for an occasion, and made with flowers from the city in which the mourners live. Weird flexes, but okay. The wording around these details is as flowery as the locally sourced, hand-made wreath lying in St. George’s Chapel right now.
If Meghan could have reasonably baked a cake and FedExed it to Windsor Castle, I’m sure she would have done it and we would have heard about it. But she couldn’t, so we got details about a note and a wreath. Details that speak as much to Meghan and Harry’s desire to be adored by the press and the public, as they do to the life of the man the wreath was meant to commemorate.
Newsweek and Harper’s must have known that such an article, with incredibly specific details that could only be provided from Harry and Meghan, would get the most clicks during the actual funeral, when the most people were tuning in and following along on social media. For a media/entertainment company to make that decision makes sense. They are working to make money and get eyeballs on their website. But for Meghan and Harry to leak that information – to agree to have the media organizations Meghan is friendly with publish that information and make things about her rather than the funeral of Prince Philip – is despicable. It took my breath away.
PS: I am laying a lot of responsibility for this at Meghan’s feet, as it has her name written all over it; but Harry is just as culpable for such a display, even if all he did was sign off on the PR plan. To try to upstage your 99 year old grandfather’s funeral mid-service? That’s a low I didn’t know Meghan and Harry could reach.
As always, please stay safe, wear a mask, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.