Writing that headline was like a game of Mad Libs.
Yesterday, Carla Hayden, the official Librarian of the US Congress, posted the following tweet:
This was quickly picked up by Sussex reporter Omid Scobie:
This tweet from Hayden was retweeted by the official US Library of Congress and the official US Copyright Office.
I’m going to posit a theory. I have no solid proof for this, so take it with a grain of salt. But if we’re talking about likelihoods, I think it’s pretty likely that this information about Meghan Markle’s childhood book, which was published and kept in the US Library of Congress, was leaked out to combat negative press stories about Meghan that are currently in the media. I think it’s more likely than not that someone on Meghan and Harry’s team put in a call to the Library of Congress to let them know where to look for her eighth grade book about freckles.
Why do I think this? The short answer is: I think it ticks a lot of boxes for Meghan in terms of strategy.
It diverts attention from negative stories about the Sussexes
The discovery of a nice book written by Meghan in her childhood diverts interest away from a range of negative stories, including confirmation that Lilibet Diana domain names were purchased by the Sussexes before they asked the Queen’s permission to use her childhood nickname, Lilibet, for their daughter; excerpts from the re-release of Robert Lacey’s book Battle of Brothers, which includes unflattering stories about Harry and Meghan; and less-than-stellar sales of Meghan’s children’s book, The Bench, in the UK.
It creates a narrative that will help Meghan secure more book deals
- The book itself is fine. It’s inoffensive at worst and charming at best. It talks about the spirit of being different (having freckles) without alienating anyone on the right side of the political spectrum.
- It was found a couple of weeks after her first book, a book for children, was published. What are the chances?
- It demonstrates that Meghan has had an interest in writing and publishing for decades. This will help her agent secure her bigger and better book deals with publishers in the future.
It’s mutually beneficial
- Meghan has focused a lot of work and activism around representation and diversity. The fact that the book was found and then posted about by the first female AND the first African American Librarian of Congress looks good for Meghan’s brand.
- Conversely, Hayden, the Library of Congress, and the Congress as a whole benefit from being associated with Meghan. They can make this a stop on field trips and tours of Congress. They can explain the history of copyright, publishing, and international diplomacy using Meghan as a throughline. Even if public support for Meghan is dropping, she is still one of the most famous women in the world. She is still the only American woman who also happens to be a British princess and duchess. So there is an opportunity to gain positive press for the Library of Congress through this book. I wouldn’t be surprised AT ALL to see this book re-published and sold in the Congress gift shop. If that happens, there could be financial gain from association with Meghan. (I’m not saying that would be a bad thing, by the way. The Library of Congress is a nonpartisan office of the US government and any revenue it receives would go back into its operating budget, which means more resources for the public. Plus, if kids like it and want to read it, then that’s great.)
It puts Meghan and Congress in the same sentence
- Pretty self-explanatory. If you’re thinking about a possible future political run, why not make in-roads with US Congress staff and put out a feel-good story about having been interested in the systems of government from a young age? It’s all of the gain of aligning yourself with a government body, with none of the risk.
Okay, so we’ve determined that this book and the fact that it’s in the Library of Congress looks good for everyone involved. So here is my question: Why are we only hearing about it now?
Meghan and Harry have become known as notorious story leakers. They provide intimate details to reporters and other key people when they want their version of events to be known. If you need proof of this, read basically any story about the couple by Omid Scobie or Jack Royston or Carly Ledbetter. Read Scobie and Carolyn Durand’s book, Finding Freedom. Combine that with the level of demand for Meghan Markle content over the past four years, especially in America. So how is it that we are only hearing about this book, which is (quite impressively) sitting in the Library of Congress? I think it’s probably fair to say that Librarian Carla Hayden didn’t stumble across it during a leisurely walk among the stacks of the Library of Congress. I think the theory that makes the most sense is that Team Sussex kept this good news story in its back pocket for use during a negative wave of PR. Or, in fewer words:
I feel like things have lined up too well in terms of Meghan’s PR strategy for this not to have been leaked by the Sussex PR team.
Other Random Thoughts:
- In the acknowledgments, Meghan thanks “mommy” and “daddy”. When I was in eighth grade, I didn’t call either of my parents mommy or daddy in private, let alone in public. And to put it in the acknowledgments page of a book? That would have been socially devastating! Also, why are there quotation marks around “mommy” and “daddy”?
- The writing style of the freckle book feels very similar to the writing style of The Bench. Which could be seen either as a testament to Meghan’s consistent voice as an author, or a comment on the lack of evolution of her writing style some 25 years later.
- Apparently the quote about not having freckles being like a night without stars came from Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle. It’s sad to see how their relationship has disintegrated.