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Murdoch media turned me into a royal-watcher

If it weren’t for the Murdoch press I’d have paid no attention at all to Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle.

But eventually the noise and ruckus of the dominant media stable’s apparent anti-Harry campaign managed to penetrate the shield of disinterest I generally deploy against the British royal family.

The Murdoch press, I find, is a valuable guide to opinion and fact. If Murdoch pundits seem to be foaming at the mouth and yelling an opinion then I often feel pretty confident that the correct opinion will be just about opposite to what they are saying. Similarly with alleged “facts”, which will often be found on close inspection to have been put through a production process probably not dissimilar to junk food, having been dehydrated, crushed, twisted and packaged in ways that make them almost unrecognisable.

So, when it finally dawned on me that the Murdoch press seemed to dislike Harry – and his wife Meghan Markle – it occurred to me that perhaps Harry was a worthwhile person. Students of Australia’s Murdoch-dominated media should be familiar with the “news” organisation’s regular “fatwahs” against certain people deemed beyond the pale for one reason or another. These go beyond the usual sniping meted out to anybody in the public eye who doesn’t fit the mould of obedience and compliance to the right-wing agendas promoted by the Murdoch empire. Murdoch media fatwahs are intense, brutal assaults that can undo careers.

Not that I would necessarily say that the empire has launched a full-scale fatwah against Harry, but the sniping seems a bit more concentrated and focused than the baseline I’d normally expect, even against a person who is suing one of the empire’s organs. (Details and background about Harry and Meghan Markle’s legal action over illegal phone-tapping can be read in this interesting article by Guy Martin in Forbes magazine.)

The trigger that made me actually take notice of Harry was the Murdoch press reports attacking Harry’s Nelson Mandela memorial speech to the United Nations in July 2022. The ranty headlines described the speech as “embarrassing”, and said Harry looked “uncomfortable” delivering it. There was even some humbug that he’d plagiarised parts of it from his media-favoured brother, William.

Based on all this I decided, against my usual nature, to listen to the speech. I thought it was actually really good. Harry talked about 2022 being a difficult year in a difficult decade. He spoke of the pandemic. He spoke of the devastation being caused by climate change. And, very significantly, perhaps, he spoke of “the few, weaponizing lies and disinformation at the expense of the many”.

And how about this quote: “And from the horrific war in the Ukraine, to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States, we are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom”? Yow. You can see how the right-wing establishment would hate that.

“According to Freedom House our world has become less free every year for more than a decade and a half”, he said, adding that decisions by the most powerful people in the richest countries had created terrible consequences for the world’s poorest. The world was in crisis, which would only get worse unless leaders actually chose to lead and make decisions for the good of people. This might not suit the agendas of every political party, Harry noted (bravely, I thought) adding that they may invite resistance from powerful interests. “This is a pivotal moment when multiple converging crises have given way to an endless string of injustices”, he said.

He urged people to resist, to “find meaning and purpose in the struggle and to wear our principles as armour”. He praised people in Africa trying to defend their homes and environment against big oil companies. He praised young people fighting for equality and justice and he urged people to “reclaim our democracies”.

Clearly, none of this will appeal to the heads of the great empire of finance that runs our world.

The other thing that made me inclined to pay a little attention to Prince Harry was the fact that I had recently read the book The Murder of Princess Diana, subtitled The Truth Behind the Assassination of the Century by the late Noel Botham. Again, I would not usually read a book on that topic, but I wanted something quick and easy to digest and I was mildly curious to know a little more about a “conspiracy theory” that I’d neglected to examine.

The book is quite a bombshell, in fact, made even more so by its surprising clarity and logic, the compelling evidence it marshalls for its case and the fact that its author was held in high regard as a journalist. Among the book’s many observations is Botham’s assertion that Harry’s portrait was the only photograph on display in the home of Major James Hewitt, a man known to have been a lover of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana and to whom Harry bears a strong physical resemblance, as this blog post boldly notes.

The book also alleges some deep concerns on the part of the British royal family about Diana forming a relationship with a non-white man, Dodi Fayed. Echoes of this relationship might be seen in Prince Harry’s own marriage: US-born Meghan Markle identifies as being of mixed race.

As an entirely incidental aside I might mention that this alleged aversion to colour on the part of the British royals crossed my mind while watching the first episodes of the Sandman series, where a very white British princess is about to secretly marry a black footballer. The priest appears to assume this match could only be due to demonic possession and calls in an exorcist to sort things out. The wrong ‘un is dispatched and the princess returns home unwed. Happy ending? Was this a reference to Buckingham Palace’s alleged attitude?

I’ll be watching the careers of Harry and Meghan with considerably more interest from now on, thanks to the Murdoch empire’s ever-reliable guidance on such matters.

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