You can tell it’s August because I’m not sure this issue would generally rise to the level of its own post here, let alone several actual news stories…but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are under fire for their use of private planes in the last couple of weeks. Members of the Royal Family flying private to travel, including in their personal time, is nothing new, but Harry recently made some controversial statements in Meghan’s September edition of British Vogue on sustainability and climate change that have now drawn accusations of hypocrisy.
And now some major celebs have stepped in.
It emerged over the weekend that after flying home from a holiday in Ibiza earlier this month, the couple departed last week for another holiday in Nice. The specifics of the trip were unknown, but now thanks to an Instagram post from John it appears that both the jet and the house in which they are staying are his. The post reads:
“I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week. 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.
“After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home.
“To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight. To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint.
“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.”
Ellen DeGeneres then stepped into the fray with:
“Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better.”
As I said last week, I personally have no problem with the Sussexes flying privately – in fact, I don’t see how it could be avoided given who they are. Nor am I particularly irked by them flying private while espousing environmental causes – it’s just a necessary reality. However, this is a good example of why sweeping blanket statements can get you into trouble, though charges of hypocrisy are nothing new for the royals. (Hunting, much?)
Anyway, I don’t find this particular issue very noteworthy, but I do find the public statements from celebrities interesting.
1) It’s further evidence of how much the Sussexes are aligned with traditional celebrity in a way that other members of the RF simply aren’t. That makes a certain amount of sense given Meghan’s background, but I think it frankly has more to do with how the Sussexes are positioning themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that (thus far) in my book, but it definitely doesn’t push back on the narrative that they’re straying from the royal line.
2) This isn’t the first time the Sussexes have had well-known third parties defend them, even if it didn’t happen at their instruction. At various points – even if not in this particular instance – they’ve weighed their options an decided silence didn’t suit. Understandable and human, to be sure, but also risky. I think the jury’s still out on whether it helps or hurts them long-term.
3) These statements are certainly drawing an even firmer line in the sand between the Sussexes and the media. I agree that the current stream of attacks against the Sussexes are out of control and, in many cases, unwarranted. Criticism of royals comes with a territory and is sometimes appropriate, but much of the commentary these days is just completely over-the-top.
Normally I’d chalk this up to August being so dead – and I definitely think that’s a lot of it – but this particular stream of negative press started months ago. I’ve mentioned in the past that I think a lot of it has to do with Meghan being American, and that’s definitely a topic we need to re-visit soon.
Hopefully things will mellow out come September. In the meantime, I can’t help but hope that the same consideration for the power of optics that was extended to the Duke of York last week is extended to Harry and Meghan when they visit Balmoral.