The recent slew of media coverage over Meghan Markle and Prince Harry supposedly using a private jet to go on holidays has seen a level of criticism that is rather bizarre. However hard they might try, this is one royal couple who will never win, writes Jennifer McShane
The latest Duke and Duchess of Sussex press firestorm is all about their hypocritical attitude to environmental activism... supposedly. The royal couple are environmental activists. A single look at their social media presence will tell you that they are passionate about climate change – they even recently followed Greta Thunberg.
Related: Meghan Markle and the hypocritical media reporting of the royal family
By this admission, it makes the fact that they took a private jet (planes are not good for our carbon footprint) on holidays – reportedly more than once – look "hypocritical." They are "preachy" apparently. "Holier than thou," wrote another columnist, to go on and on about saving the earth when they are swanning around in private jets.
It's all a bit.. much, no?
On the one hand, yes. It's not great that their ethos is around climate change and a private jet is damaging to our climate.
But on the other, what are they supposed to do? Sail across the sea with a new baby? Are they supposed to forgo all their beliefs and want to do some good with their stature just because they've taken a plane?
It sounds ludicrous, but this is what some articles suggest. "... Is it so much to ask that if they have a luxury vacation planned that requires the service of a private jet, that they cool it on the environmental preaching for a while?" asks one.
"Preaching" isn't how many would describe their activism. Trying their best is more accurate.
"Distorted and malicious"
Singer Elton John revealed that he had organised the jet for the royal couple to ensure privacy amongst the tabloid intrusion, and at their request, "to support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™."
He was appalled, he wrote of the "distorted and malicious" treatment of them both. "I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis," he wrote, adding that he felt a responsibility to say something, seeing that Princess Diana died as a result of such intrusion.
Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 19, 2019
They will never win. Just as they don't give enough of themselves and their private lives to the public – who can forget the frenzied flurry when they refused to make baby Archie's christening public? – they will forever be criticised for what they don't do enough of, what they are lacking, how they aren't like Will and Kate.
Related: 'Meghan Markle is being vilified just as Diana was'
They? Or Meghan?
Comments haven't simply been to express annoyance due to a private plane, some have been downright racist and, as ever, directed towards Markle. Friends of the Duchess, Jessica Mulroney and Jameela Jamil have called out the press for this.
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“When someone faces unfair criticism, you call it out. When that person is your friend and your family, you call those critics what they truly are. Shame on you, you racist bullies,” Mulroney wrote with the caption, “3 years of undeserved hate and abuse. It’s enough,” which is an obvious reference to the time when Meghan started dating Harry.
Jamil also had some choice words of her own:
Ugh. Dear England and English press, just say you hate her because she’s black, and him for marrying a black woman and be done with it God dammit. Your bullying is so embarrassing and obvious. You’ve all lost your marbles. It’s 2019. Grow up. https://t.co/OMwwRU31p9
— Jameela Jamil ? (@jameelajamil) August 20, 2019
The treatment of Markle has been so bad that the palace, which rarely speaks on these issues, has called out the media twice for racist coverage of the former Suits actress.
Related: Priyanka Chopra is right to call out the racist treatment of Meghan Markle
The palace released a statement which condemned the coverage of Markle when it first began, insisting she had been “subject to a wave of abuse and harassment,” including a “smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
In 2019, Kensington Palace is still attempting to combat online abuse targeting Markle on social media and at times, Kate Middleton as well. Palace staff are reportedly "spending hours each week moderating sexist and racist comments" aimed at the duchesses online. Both women are subjected to daily bouts of racism and classism by parts of the media, amplified in recent months by an attempt by certain tabloid publications to "pit" each woman against the other.
So this week the media have attacked Greta Thunberg for NOT taking a plane. And Harry and Meghan for taking one. Basically, the key message for environmentalists is: shut up and don’t move.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) August 21, 2019
Caring about the carbon footprint is one thing, but this is clearly something else.
The fact that so many tabloids are masking over the real problem and aiming it at a royal couple, who are by all accounts, doing the best they can is the real problem here.
Main photograph: @TheEllenShow