Those watching Good Morning America yesterday likely spied a familiar face: Meghan Markle. Dressed in a white button-down, she spoke about Elephant, the nature documentary she narrated. “These creatures are so majestic and, at the same time, they are so sensitive and so connected,” she said. “We see in this film just how remarkable they are—their memories are amazing, the close connection of the herd, their protectiveness of their young. I think they’re a lot more like us than they are different.”
Despite erroneous reports that the interview was recent, it was actually recorded last summer. Which ended up being a good thing, because then there would have been another elephant in the room: the couple’s continued turmoil across the pond.
The BBC reported today that the Duchess of Sussex presented texts sent to her father as evidence in her lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday and its publisher. She did so in order to claim the paper selectively edited information to portray her, and Harry, negatively. One example: Per the BBC, after Thomas Markle told his daughter on May 14 he would not be attending their wedding, he did not pick up several of her calls. Then, Harry texted him from her phone. “Really need to speak to u. U do not need to apologize, we understand the circumstances but ‘going public’ will only make the situation worse,” he wrote. “If u love Meg and want to make it right please call me as there are two other options which don’t involve u having to speak to the media, who incidentally created this whole situation. So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u.”
The court battle is still very much ongoing. There have been no rulings for, or against, any side. Regardless, the alleged messages are painful to read, and the couple’s distress palpable. One can only imagine how the Sussexes are feeling themselves, knowing such private correspondence is online and available for anyone to peruse.
That wasn’t the only royal breaking news. Last night, a letter from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, and the Express, was leaked. In it, the couple stated “there will be no corroboration and zero engagement,” with these British tabloids. “It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can’t be based on a lie,” they stated.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced on January 8 they were to step back from royal life. One of their cited reasons was “space to focus”—something the couple presumably felt they could not achieve in the United Kingdom. So they decamped to Canada, and soon after to Southern California, in search of privacy. They even quit social media. But, so far, the spotlight shows no signs of dimming.
It’s not all about lawsuits and letters: Last week, security footage of the couple delivering food to Los Angelenos in need found its way to TMZ. Paparazzi pictures of the couple on a quarantine walk were published in outlets across the world. Speculation about where they are living (Malibu! Calabasas! The Hollywood Hills!) swirls constantly.
That’s not to say the Sussexes are unwilling participants in all of their publicity. They’re still making public appearances, or as public as one can these days. They had Zoom calls with their patronages in the U.K. that garnered (positive) press. Then there was the recent announcement of their new charitable organization, Archewell. Harry and Meghan don’t want to completely disengage from the media. After all, if they want to champion certain causes, they need it.
But it seems a paradox is emerging: The more Harry and Meghan rage against the tabloid machine, the more they fuel it. Even amid a global pandemic—arguably the biggest news event in a generation—they’re still constant headline fixtures. And whereas other celebrities suffer from overexposure, the mystery of the couple’s motives make them an endless target of obsession and fascination.
In 1968, Lord Kinross profiled the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, another famous royal couple who quit the monarchy, for the Sunday Telegraph. He wrote: “Both seek to lead the lives of private persons. But in an age given to publicity, how can they? The doings of the Duke, an ex-monarch and still royalty, must always attract public attention.”
Harry and Meghan may dream of privacy. But even with hedges and without “Your Royal Highnesses,” it’s possible they may never be able to get it.
Originally published on Vogue.com