Friday, 23 December 2022

Happy Christmas, Dear Readers...

With just days until Christmas, I'm finalising my own preparation for a week spent with family. Are you all set for the weekend if you're celebrating? For their Christmas card, Harry and Meghan chose a beautiful black and white photo from the Ripple of Hope gala with the accompanying message: "Wishing you a joyful Holiday Season, from our family to yours, and on behalf of our teams at the Archewell Foundation, Archewell Audio and Archewell Productions, we wish you health, peace, and a very Happy New Year."

I haven't covered Harry and Meghan's Netflix programme in depth here yet. There are such intense emotions on both sides, and for the past four years it has felt like relentless screaming and shouting rather than listening and learning -- the latter being sorely needed. I will say it paints a heart-breaking and devastating portrait of the breakdown in family relationships. It was especially saddening to hear Harry talking about what he'll miss in the UK, the "weird family gatherings when we are all brought together under one roof for certain times of the year". Meghan recalled her first royal Christmas at Sandringham in 2017: "I remember so vividly the first Christmas at Sandringham. Calling my mum, and she's like, 'How's it going?' And I said, 'Oh my gosh, it's amazing.'" Meghan added: "It's just like a big family, like I always wanted. There was just this constant movement and energy and fun." A clear message conveyed in the docu-series: they would have continued working as members of the Royal family for the rest of their lives if they could.

Harry & Meghan has become Netflix's biggest documentary debut of all time, with over 175 million hours watched. In the UK, it is the most watched subscription television series, beating the likes of Stranger Things and The Crown.

The impact of the series, which focused heavily on the abhorrent and cruel portrayals of Meghan in the media, has been a renewed awakening among many to the appalling abuse she is subjected to in the British press. Leading media figure Jeremy Clarkson penned in the Sun, without a second thought, that he "hates" Meghan. Not content with that blanket statement, he continued: "Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level." As the vitriol continued, he wrote, "Dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her." The disgusting "piece" was met with an immediate outcry of horror. Sixty cross-party MPs wrote to the Sun’s editor, Victoria Newton, to demand an apology and demanded Clarkson face action. It has become the most complained about article IPSOS has dealt with. Over 21,000 people contacted the press standards organisation to express their outrage, and it has opened up conversations, debates and made way for voices of reason across the media sector to share a unified message: this is not Okay, this is not acceptable.

Today, The Sun issued a statement. 

We'll see their next production with the streaming giant far sooner than thought. On 31 December, the couple presented and executive-produced Live to Lead, a docu-series inspired by Nelson Mandela highlighting leaders from all over the world. It will feature a host of inspirational figures including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem and Greta Thunberg. The Nelson Mandela Foundation said: "Extraordinary leaders reflect on their legacies and share messages of courage, compassion, humility, hope and generosity."

Meanwhile, Archewell has been focusing on Gifting Back.

'On Friday, the Archewell team including The Archewell Foundation, Archewell Audio and Archewell Productions gathered to celebrate the holidays and participate in This Is About Humanity’s annual Holiday Party for Reunified Families represented by Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Led by The Archewell Foundation, the company organized holiday gifting for over 30 reunified and refugee families. This Is About Humanity creates a community of allies and advocates dedicated to raising awareness about separated and reunified families and children at the U.S.-Mexican border'.

Harry and Meghan are undoubtedly looking forward to Christmas with Archie and Lili, surrounded by Granny Doria (a lady of dignity and strength we were lucky enough to hear from for the first time) and close friends in California. As they continue to build their new life and make memories for their children's future, I hope it's a week filled with peace and joy.

On that note, I want to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas. (Remember this snowy day of engagements in Bristol in 2019?)

Thank you for reading Mad About Meghan in 2022.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

An Archewell X RFK Human Rights Collaboration, Archetypes Wins People's Choice Award & Harry's Pearl Harbor Visit

Hello, dear readers, I'm back with several updates!

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It's understood in conversation with Kerry Kennedy, Harry and Meghan said they know "a ripple of hope can turn into a wave of change". CNN's Don Lemon attended the event and said the couple were "mobbed, swarmed by people". Max Foster described the event as "an endorsement" of their message. Don added: "They thanked all of us in the crowd for coming out."

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Harry joked with the crowd: "I actually thought we were going on a date night."

Below, the couple talking about Archewell. Harry was really charming the crowd :)

A sneak peek inside the event.

Mingling inside with guests.

There was also exciting news about a collaboration between the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organisation and Archewell.

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More from RFK Human Rights:

'In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers and the Tribeca Festival, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights created the annual Speak Truth to Power Video Contest, encouraging middle and high school students to use film as a tool to discuss human rights issues that resonate with them. In creating these short three- to five-minute videos, whether they be documentaries, narrative films, or experimental, students not only learn about human rights but also become champions of change and social justice. Students from all backgrounds can participate in the contest without needing expensive equipment or prior video editing skills. This year, special awards will be presented to filmmakers who use only an iPhone to create their videos.

The Grand Prize winner will participate in a Tribeca Festival event in New York City, where their video will premiere.

This year’s Speak Truth to Power competition will also bring together students, educators, and human rights defenders, for the first-ever Archewell Foundation Award for Gender Equity in Student Film. The Award will recognize students who have harnessed the power of visual storytelling to highlight a woman who has uplifted her community and, in doing so, changed the course of history for women everywhere. The new award will be presented along with the Grand Prize winner during a 2023 Tribeca Festival event in New York City.

The Grand Prize winner and The Archewell Foundation Award for Gender Equity in Student Film winner will participate in a Tribeca Festival event in New York City, where the videos will premiere'.

Finally, a word on Meghan's earrings. The Duchess wore Carolina Herrera's Kaleidoscope gold-plated drop earrings with embellishment. They retail for about £150 (with thanks to What Meghan Wore).


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Whilst Harry and Meghan were at the event, very exciting news was underway at the People's Choice Awards where Archetypes was crowned Best Podcast of 2022. In a statement released today, Meghan thanked the supporters and fans of her first podcast: "I loved digging my hands into the process, sitting up late at night in bed, working on the writing and creative. I loved digging deep into meaningful conversation with my diverse and inspiring guests." Meghan thanked her "amazing team" for bringing the "labour of love" to life. Thanking those who voted, she said: "Your support means the world."

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For the 81st commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, Archewell shared images from Harry's visit to Honolulu last month.

A statement read: "In November, ahead of the 81st commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, The Duke of Sussex visited Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu – a monument honoring the thousands of servicemembers and civilians affected by the tragedy. As part of The Duke’s continued commitment to remembering and honoring military personnel, veterans and families, he toured the sites of the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona alongside Admiral Samuel Paparo (Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet) and Admiral John Aquilino (Commander, U.S Indo Pacific Command), paying his respects with a ceremonial laying of flowers at the reflection pool."

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Before I sign off, we're on the eve of Harry and Meghan's docu-series airing on Netflix. As has been customary on MAM since the first days of the blog, there's a good deal of vitriolic in comments. It feels like a good time to remind those leaving them they will not be published. If you've been leaving such aimed in my direction, you are equally wasting your time.

I know some of you have followed Harry and Meghan and have expressed disappointment regarding this docu-series. That is perfectly fine and you are entitled to your opinion. Looking at it all from a purely logical perspective, I can say, I think it would have been categorically a better decision to lay the entire reality of their lives 2016-2019 and the events which led to them leaving the UK in its entirety back in January 2020. Many (if not most) people simply do not understand the situation which erupted after they married. The why, the who, the what... Sometimes in life it's easier, cleaner and more convenient to believe in the concept of the lone 'villain'. In this case, the title has been awarded to Meghan. Though you will of course be aware, in the intricacies of family and personal relationships, it is rarely so simple. It may be more palatable, but it is not the truth.

I cannot tell you what precisely occurred within Palace walls over those years, but there is simply no point in rewriting history. A vicious, unrelenting and monumentally damaging smear campaign left Meghan suicidal during her pregnancy. 

Again, I know many of you don' believe that. Fear not, because Palace courtiers were briefing a Times reporter she was a terrible state of distress. Even the most personal details regarding her mental health weren't considered private.

The press didn't sit down huddled in a room together and decide to destroy Meghan -- they were fed those stories and to suggest otherwise now is preposterous. In turn those stories began to feed an insatiable beast.

You may not like her and you may not agree with the Sussexes' decisions, but ask yourself, if this was your daughter, sister or friend rather than a person presented as a media caricature, would you feel differently? 

This, from Times correspondent Catherine Philp today.

From the BBC today -- 'Harry and Meghan: UK press monetised hatred of couple, says MP':

'Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said newspapers had "filled their online sites" with "hateful Meghan Markle material".

"It is becoming their richest clickbait scene… it drives viewing and earns advertising income," he said.

He made the comments in a speech introduced by Hugh Grant at the annual Leveson Lecture held by press-reform group Hacked Off.

Mr Bryant said the monetary incentive was "why so many British opinion writers penned so much drivel about the couple".

"Not because the story matters. It doesn't. Not because the writers genuinely cares about it. They don't. But because it makes money," he said.

"That is not journalism. It's a perversion of journalism and it means, yet again, the press see people lives as commodities to be traded."

Veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson, who has close sources and working relationships across the royal households.

How quickly after the wedding was BBC reporter Jonny Dymond receiving negative stories? "Within days."

From ITV's This Morning earlier this week. Philip Schofield speaks to the Telegraph's Camilla Tominey.

Dan Wootton, who received numerous exclusives on Harry and Meghan during their time in the UK.

From Amol Rajan's The Princes and the Press.

It's important to remember the very real human cost of all this. I've never subscribed to the belief we must 'choose sides' or 'hate' anyone involved in this. But the truth has to matter. To suggest there is justification for what happened along the lines of "They had it coming" or "She was put in her place" play into the most horrible tropes and misconceptions. When Harry & Meghan airs tomorrow, it's important to remember the decisions which led to all this and the fact they have the right to tell their story, regardless of whether anyone agrees with how they've chosen to do so.

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