The minute I heard of the latest Royal drama (Harry and Meghan ‘stepping back’ from senior duties) I thought, here we go, this will bury any idea of prioritising serious news for as long as this can be strung out. And so it is proving.
If editors, even in the ‘respected’ news organisations, can break the monotony of analysing climate change or the possibility of a Middle East stand-off as a catalyst for some really serious geopolitical mess then they will gorge on this until gluttony forces a surrender to reporting something more serious.
I should start with a confession. When anything relating to the Royals breaks, some unhealthy anti-journalist instincts kick in and I am convulsed by indifference, despite a professional injunction telling me that I should pay attention.
The extent to which many plebeians of my ilk find this stuff about the privileged fascinating truly bewilders me. They are such a far cry from reality that I have never had the remotest inkling to be bothered about the latest ‘developments’.
I turned the car radio on this morning and true enough all the usual suspects were wheeled out as presenters worked themselves into a studied curiosity, all meant to convey to the public that this is ‘big’.
Dickie Arbiter pronounced gravely on the decision of the Sussexes and Penny Junor reassured listeners that ‘we’ all really love them. With twitchy excitement she appointed herself spokeswoman for the nation, at least a quarter of whom would abolish the monarchy anyway.
From the Duke of Edinburgh’s driving inabilities to Prince Andrew’s dodgy mates the drama rolls along but is forever played out within an accepted wisdom that, by and large, warts and all, Elizabeth Windsor and family is overwhelmingly a good thing.
As devotees of The Crown will know, the institution is the stuff of rolling soap opera. Netflix might unwittingly be doing the republican cause a world of good by shining a light on apparent perpetual dysfunctionality.
There is one sense in which this is a story, although it is being treated as something bigger than it actually is.
Unilateral declarations of semi-independence, if not semi- retirement from Royal protocol, certainly deserve a mention. Perhaps what it says is that this is a couple who just want to live their lives free from the privileged enslavement that it has been their misfortune to endure.
People can’t help being born into poverty just as Prince Harry can’t help being born into privilege.
If all of this is motivated by a desire to have a more normal life and by implication involves a repudiation of all that would be expected of him, then he is setting a dangerous precedent.
Well, for those who believe uncritically in monarchy the appeal rests in part on a mystique founded on notions of duty and being above the mores of the populace. Harry is not being terribly Royal with this kind of behaviour because it could well reveal him to be like any other Joe Soap.
Like all of the Royal stories of the past year and indeed yesteryear, interest in it is at saturation point because it is a good ‘talker’. That view anaesthetises editors to sound judgement in search of more infotainment without the need to ask any serious questions. In all of the talking from the commentators and the excitable contributions from the vox populi, I offer my own tuppenceworth. I really couldn’t care less.