In defense of Haz and Meg
As soon as their Netflix docu-series dropped, the criticism began. Before people had even watched it, some called Prince Harry and Meghan Markle narcissistic. They were accused of seeking attention, refusing to “make up” with the royal family, and “selfishly” choosing to live their own lives, but anyone watching this series with an open mind will realize these claims are just not valid.
An American reporter asked, “If they just want to be alone, why don’t they just disappear and live private lives?” This person seems to have no clue what it’s like to be a royal family member. Harry has probably wished escaping society was possible, as evidenced by his time in Africa. He wasn’t born a private citizen. From birth, he’s been recognized, gossiped about, and chased by the paparazzi.
There’s no way to make this obsession with his life go away. When he took his family to lay low on Vancouver Island in Canada, they were discovered within six weeks. When they later moved to Tyler Perry’s house, they were again hounded by the British press — the likes of which Perry says his neighborhood of celebrities had never before seen.
Another reporter on the same network suggested Harry and Meghan are hurting the royal family by making this series. They likened them to “shooting fish in a barrel,” claiming the royal family isn’t allowed to defend themselves. But the royal family isn’t a victim. The influential House of Windsor has more wealth and connections than most people worldwide.
As we’ve learned from stories told by the late Princess Diana, the palace’s “men in gray” manipulate the press behind the scenes at the monarch’s bidding. The irony is that Diana’s words ring true today in Harry’s life, while William has said he doesn’t think anyone should ever view that interview with their mother again. Whether she was tricked into giving the interview, it was still her testimony of life in the royal family.
Other critics have suggested the Sussexes are narcissistic for making their docu-series; otherwise, why bother? Is it selfish to make the truth known to refute lies? And is it selfish to spend money telling their story? Millions of people spend money writing memoirs, and not all do it for selfish reasons.
It’s not narcissistic to set the record straight when someone stole Meghan’s private letter to her father and twisted her words to say things she never said. It’s not narcissistic to tell their story when they were bullied into silence and cut off to fend for themselves. It’s not narcissistic to make money from telling their account when the tabloids have made millions by telling lies about them. This docu-series has empowered Harry and Meghan to reclaim their lives financially by sharing their truth.
Are they narcissistic for not making up with the royal family? Anyone with a dysfunctional family knows reconciliation is a two-way street. Both parties must agree, and in this case, coming together can only happen if Harry’s father and brother are willing to treat Harry and Meghan respectfully. From the last half of the series, many doubt that’s possible.
When William’s office signed Harry’s name to a joint press agreement stating that they were getting along, it only added to their rift. By signing Harry’s name to a document without his permission, William showed that he was more concerned about what the public thinks than having a relationship with his brother. The ball is in William’s court to fix this — not Harry’s. This inability to reconcile is not Harry and Meghan’s fault but the fact that the royal family operates more like an institution than a family.
Many people who use the word “narcissistic” haven’t read a book on the topic. There are many reasons to use the term as a cheap shot to discredit someone. We could go down the list of criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but we’d find that Harry and Meghan are no more narcissistic than the rest of us. One of the hallmarks of narcissism is a lack of empathy. If we follow Harry and Meghan’s individual stories, we find they are empathetic individuals who genuinely care about others.
Long before they got together, Meghan was already an activist for women’s rights. She worked with Young World and World Vision Canada on a clean water campaign. Harry served his country in the military and started the Invictus Games for injured soldiers. After the terrible Grenfell Tower fire in London, Meghan helped create a cookbook to raise funds for the survivors. During the pandemic, they took a stand for vaccine equality because they believe where you are born should not dictate whether you can get a vaccine. They both have other-centered personalities, which has given them loyal friends who vouch for their characters and probably drove them to fall in love with each other.
Name-calling happens whenever someone stands up against racism and abuse. There are two sides to every cause — those who want to keep the power structure in place and those who wish to change it. Harry and Meghan gave hope to the Commonwealth. Many felt their union was the most encouraging news to come out of the royal family for decades. Finally, the palace would begin to be in touch with the common people, but sadly, the rest of the royal family failed to support them.
Regardless of Harry and Meghan’s critics, Netflix reports it’s had the “highest views of any documentary series in a premiere week.” If Harry and Meghan’s goal is to tell their truth and let the world decide, they’ve achieved their goal.
Cherilyn Christen Clough broke the rules when she started writing about her family’s secrets. Some claim she sold her soul to the devil, but she prefers to think of it as gaining freedom. You can read about her strange childhood in Chasing Eden A Memoir.