The Duchess of Sussex divides newspaper readers into two distinct camps. As we know from website data, there are vast numbers of people who eagerly devour every word written about her. But as we know from our inboxes, there are also vast numbers of people who yearn never to see her name in print ever again for as long as they live.
This divide presents journalists with something of a quandary, because it isn’t easy to satisfy both camps at once.
Thankfully, I’ve come up with a solution. Every morning, each newspaper should print two separate editions. The first would contain articles about the Duchess, as normal, while the second would guarantee never to mention her in any circumstances (“100 PER CENT MEGHAN-FREE – OR YOUR MONEY BACK”).
Each member of the public could then choose between the two. For the latter edition, in fact, we could probably charge extra. I suspect there are plenty of readers who would pay it.
Then again, their happiness may prove short-lived. The day may soon come when a Meghan-free edition is no longer feasible. Indeed, regardless of the public’s wishes, the press may be obliged to cover the Duchess’s every move, day in, day out – for one very simple reason.
She’ll be president of the USA.
No, I know it sounds absurd. But perhaps we should start taking the idea seriously – because it’s been advanced by none other than the current president’s sister.
In an interview this week, Valerie Biden Owens not only urged the Duchess to join the Democrats – but declared that she would make a “good presidential candidate”.
Mrs Biden Owens isn’t the first to say so, either. Omid Scobie, the Duchess’s biographer, has previously argued that we “may see Meghan become president”, while an “unnamed friend” told Vanity Fair that the Duchess would “seriously consider” it.
I suppose I can see why her supporters would wish to encourage her. She has always had a strong desire to change the world (ever since, at the age of 11, she wrote a letter of complaint to the manufacturer of a dishwasher soap, because its adverts had implied that the product was for women).
Furthermore, she’s good at building relationships with powerful people (for example, she invited George and Amal Clooney to her wedding – even though, according to subsequent reports, she’d never actually met them before).
And, most importantly of all, she has a keen interest in politics (as we know from the stories about her cold-calling startled US senators to lobby for paid paternity leave).
A run for the presidency, therefore, shouldn’t be discounted. All the same, I fear that it would end in disaster – for the following three reasons.
First, her candidacy would be an absolute gift to Donald Trump – or any other Republican. She would be their dream opponent, because she so perfectly fits their stereotype of 21st-century Democrats. They would call her woke, preachy and pampered, a fully paid-up member of the coastal elite.
No doubt the Duchess would protest that this characterisation is dreadfully unfair. But for the Democrats, it would be harder than ever to rebut claims that they’re out of touch with the struggling blue-collar workers of the Rust Belt, if their candidate for the presidency were married to a prince.
Second, the Duchess would surely find the pressure unbearable. As a member of the Royal family she was surrounded by cheering crowds wherever she went, and was required to perform few duties more taxing than to smile and wave.
If she thought that was tough, wait till she finds out what it’s like to be a politician. A politician needs skin thicker than a bank vault door. The Duchess is a woman of many qualities, but imperviousness to criticism is possibly not top of the list.
The third reason, however, is the one that worries me most. Say the Duchess actually won. The Royal family would naturally be obliged to invite the new president to make a state visit.
Just imagine how that could turn out.
“Why, how delightful to bump into you again after all these years, Meghan darling.”
“That’s Madam President to you, Kate dear.”
Forget the Special Relationship. By teatime it would be 1776 all over again.
I’m sorry, but the risk is simply too great. For her own sake, as much as anyone else’s, the Duchess should resist any temptation to enter politics. Even if she finds herself inundated with letters imploring her to stand.
In such an eventuality, I would advise her to have the handwriting examined by an expert. Because it would probably turn out to be Donald Trump’s.
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