Harry and Meghan’s annus horribilis of karmic disaster: MAUREEN CALLAHAN’s devastating analysis of how a string of crushing failures since the Queen’s death 12 months ago have shattered their narcissistic dreams
What was meant to be their year of triumph — telling ‘their truth’ and finding ‘their voice’ through multi-million dollar deals with Netflix, Spotify, and Penguin Random House, destroying the monarchy in the process — has backfired spectacularly.
Of course, Harry and Meghan likely don’t recognize this. Never will they allow reality to intrude upon their delusions of greatness. But the rest of us have witnessed the most satisfying karmic comeuppance since Alec Baldwin’s downfall.
How poetic, how fitting – how sad – that H&M’s rapid descent began one year ago, days before Her Majesty’s death on September 8, 2022.
The timing for Meghan, in particular, could not have been worse. Here she was, in Wallis Simpson cosplay, on the cover of New York magazine’s The Cut, the accompanying profile one great whingefest, and then — oh, how her malignant narcissism so quickly metastasized — Meghan Markle compared herself to Nelson Mandela.
‘I just had Archie,’ Meghan began. ‘It was such a cruel chapter. I was scared to go out.’
That’s our Duchess of Despair and Endless Grievance, who somehow gathered the courage to see ‘The Lion King’ and was greeted, finally, as the heroine she is. The revolutionary. The freedom fighter among us.
Backstage, a South African cast member, said Meghan, told her: ‘I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did as when Mandela was freed from prison.’
As the Mail exclusively reported, the production’s lone South African cast member said it never happened.
‘I have never met Meghan Markle,’ actor Dr John Kani told the Mail. ‘This is something of a faux pas by her… It is baffling me.’
Mandela’s grandson was less forgiving.
‘Every day there are people who want to be Nelson Mandela,’ Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela said. ‘Get out there, pull up your sleeves and better the lives of ordinary people in England and in the United Kingdom.’
Oh, how The Cut profile gave and gave. Reporter Allison P. Davis, herself a woman of color, treated us to this exquisite moment:
‘At one point in our conversation, instead of answering a question, [Meghan] will suggest how I might transcribe the noises she’s making: “She’s making these guttural sounds, and I can’t quite articulate what it is she’s feeling in that moment because she has no word for it; she’s just moaning”.’
Has there been a more revealing celebrity profile? Meghan apparently faking non-verbal agony, then verbally explaining how she’d like her non-verbosity depicted. That’s as fraudulent as it gets.
The following week, the Queen was on her deathbed, and reports emerged that Prince Harry was fixated on Meghan accompanying him to Balmoral.
It was an outrageous demand; the royals refused. When Harry finally arrived, he was alone and it was too late. This humiliation was followed by a deeply unpopular Harry and Meghan — reportedly booed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June — clutching hands as they joined a shock walkabout with William and Kate, the soon-to-be Princess of Wales shooting a death glare Meghan’s way.
Unbowed even in this moment of national grief, the Sussexes shamelessly approached President Biden’s staff, asking to hitch a ride home on Air Force One after the State funeral.
‘Non-starter,’ a source told DailyMail.com. Another said the White House prioritized the Royal Family: ‘It would have strained relations with the palace and the new King.’
So much for that rival court in Montecito.
Next up was H&M’s highly-touted Netflix documentary series, a six-part howler that showed Harry and Meghan fleeing in panic from non-visible paparazzi — what a folie a deux —along with intimate iPhone footage of their engagement and Meghan’s description of meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time.
‘I mean, Americans will understand this,’ she said. ‘We have Medieval Times, dinner and a tournament. It was like that.’
She then recreated her first curtsy to the Queen, a deep, mocking bow delivered with a smirk. This insult was filmed before the Her Majesty’s death, as they clung to her for legitimacy. Even Harry looked pained.
Really, though, what could he say? One month after that Netflix doc came his misery memoir ‘Spare’.
Meant to be reputation building, instead it read as petty, cruel and un-selfaware: The disabled female teacher whose limitations Harry ridiculed and who he castigated for not making him ‘horny’; the nuclear spill of intimate information such as his father’s medical ailments, Kate Middleton’s text messages, the revelation that he and his brother are circumcised, that they also begged Prince Charles not to marry Camilla… the smashed dog bowl, the broken necklace, the smaller bedroom and breakfasts, Harry’s frostbitten todger… truly, no piece of information was privileged, no one’s privacy left untrammeled. Tiny slights recorded as if they were human rights violations.
‘Spare’, too, became a laughingstock, immortalized in a note-perfect ‘South Park’ episode just one month after the book’s publication, Harry and Meghan depicted as huffy little upstarts on their ‘Worldwide Privacy Tour’, promoting a memoir called ‘WAAAGH.’
They claimed not to have watched, yet called it, via a representative, ‘totally baseless and boring.’
The world begged to differ. If ever there was a moment that cemented these two as vainglorious fools, ‘South Park’ was it.
In March, Charles offered an olive branch, officially granting Harry and Meghan’s children the titles ‘prince’ and ‘princess.’ It was also a stroke of strategic brilliance: How, now, could the couple possibly refuse an invitation to his Coronation on May 6?
Ever defiant — or cowardly, or a bit of both — Meghan declined. Harry went alone, seated in the third row, looking lost behind a resplendent William and Kate. He was there for 28 hours, flying in and out with no public sign of rapprochement, of genuine happiness for his father.
Harry’s petulance, viewed by millions the word over, had officially become insufferable.
‘One makes one’s choices,’ a source close to the royals told Vanity Fair, adding that the family wondered ‘why Harry bothered to come at all.’
Two weeks later, these renouncers of regality were in New York City, where Meghan was honored at the Ms. Foundation Gala’s ‘Women of Vision’ awards.
Minus a royal advance team, our Duchess entered the venue via rental-car office — a perfectly down-market backdrop for a duo in decline, her strapless gold dress complimenting that blaring yellow Hertz sign behind her, Meghan grinning madly as though this were her rival crowning.
I was there that night. It did not go well for the Duchess.
Not one attendee I spoke to mentioned her as a draw, as someone they were eager to hear from, as a role model or aspirational figure. The biggest star in the room was a Peloton instructor. Meghan’s speech, at the end of a very long night, was met with murmurs and rustling, a weary crowd gathering their belongings as she offered word salad with a side of flaming hypocrisy.
‘Change is just one action away.’
‘You can be the visionary of your own life.’
‘Daily acts of service, in kindness, in advocacy, in grace and fairness.’
Kindness? Grace? Fairness? Oh, the irony!
Hours later, Meghan and Harry claimed they were the targets of a two-hour-long ‘near catastrophic’ high-speed chase that night, her mother Doria with them in the back of a New York City cab, barely escaping with their lives.
Again, to cite the late Queen: Recollections may vary.
‘I would find it hard to believe there was a two-hour high-speed car chase,’ New York mayor Eric Adams said.
‘I don’t think I would call it a chase,’ their actual cab driver, Sukhcharn Singh, told the Washington Post. ‘I never felt like I was in danger.’
That was it for H&M. Invoking the circumstances that contributed to Princess Diana’s death was a new, irredeemable low. A reputational dividing line.
And the hits just kept on coming: The next month, Spotify announced they were dropping Meghan’s insufferable podcast ‘Archetypes’ and cancelling the couple’s $20 million deal. Spotify exec and podcaster Bill Simmons branded them ‘F***ing grifters,’ before roasting Harry as useless and boring.
‘Shoot this guy to the sun,’ Simmons said. ‘What does he bring to the table? He just whines about sh*t and keeps giving interviews. Who gives a sh*t? Who cares about your life?… You just sell documentaries and podcasts and nobody cares what you have to say about anything unless you talk about the Royal Family and you just complain about them.’
Simmons said what many of us were thinking.
Soon after, a rumor somehow surfaced that Dior ‘may be on the brink of signing a deal’ with Meghan, only for the company to quickly deny it. Days later, Queen Camilla was photographed wearing — what else? — Dior.
Even Harry’s Invictus patronage, proudly displayed in a just-released Netflix documentary, no longer redounds to his benefit.
If anything it’s the opposite, Harry complaining yet again on the backs of these wounded warriors, men and women who have lost limbs and the ability to walk, that he didn’t have any emotional support when he returned from Afghanistan in 2008.
Meghan is barely present in the series. She and Harry don’t appear to be as glued at the hip as they once were.
Failure upon failure upon failure — even the strongest of couples would find such losses challenging.
And what happens when their next masterstroke doesn’t work? What strain will that put on their relationship?
What Harry and Meghan are selling is something the public no longer wants to buy — truly, can no longer believe. And Meghan, a striver bent on continual self-reinvention, appears to be desperately planning her next chapter.
‘Do you want to know a secret?’ Meghan told The Cut last summer. ‘I’m getting back… on Instagram.’
A year on — how many estranged royals does it take to press ‘post’? — Meghan is about to make good on that threat. Reports — as usual, unsourced — say she’ll likely earn $1 million per brand endorsement.
She’ll need to because money is surely running out. Harry, as a prince of the blood, can always return to the royal fold. Meghan, however, will always need another story to tell.