ROBERT HARDMAN: Harry and Meghan are just determined to find offense everywhere

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Apparently it was this year’s Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey that was the last straw for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

According to the authors of Finding Freedom: “After the service, Meghan returned to Canada to return to Archie. “Meg just wanted to come home,” a friend said, noting that the Duchess was emotionally bruised and exhausted. “At that point, she couldn’t imagine wanting to step back into something royal again. ”

Really? I was covering this event at the Abbey in March – and it’s not at all my memory.

I’ll come back to the intriguing differences between the event as it is described in the book and what I saw with my own eyes that day.

According to the new book Finding Freedom, it was this year’s Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey (pictured) that was the last straw for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

But, to me, the episode perfectly illustrates how Harry and Meghan seem determined to take offense in every situation.

Here we have a book that echoes one of the great liberation tales of modern times, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk To Freedom.

Yet Finding Freedom is a fight against protocol and siege plans. It is based on the perceived injustice of a pecking order that has ruled – and preserved – the monarchy for 1,000 years.

Yes, the rules are obscure and imperfect. It can be frustrating for those destined for a life of slow relegation. History and literature thrive on accounts of intrigue at court – from the scheming courtiers of Shakespeare to the “men in costume” of The Crown.

However, in the case of Harry and Meghan, the ‘men in suits’ went out of their way to make Project Sussex work – and many of them were in skirts.

Before the wedding, when Harry wanted to break away from convention and get Meghan to stay for Christmas in Sandringham, or even in the 2018 Commonwealth service, officials did.

Knowing the couple would need top-notch advice, the Queen persuaded one of her most capable and respected former private secretaries, Samantha Cohen, to head the new Sussexes office.

This book takes photos of the palace’s “old guard”, portraying them as untrustworthy “vipers”.

Like any institution, the palace has its share of infighting and scrambling for the post.

It must have been frustrating at times for a talented dawn autodidact like the Duchess to find tight ranks of ploughmen telling her why things couldn’t be done the way she wanted.

Finding Freedom is a fight against protocol and seating charts. It is based on the perceived injustice of a pecking order that has ruled – and preserved – the monarchy for 1,000 years

Prince Philip found it equally boring when his wife became queen in 1952. As one cousin said, “They were beast to him. Yet he worked with the system to change it.

No one was “bestial” to Harry and Meghan.

Yes, there was tension when the couple chose to fight the system. For example, Harry’s 2016 statement slamming the media in the middle of the Prince of Wales’ tour of the Gulf caused dismay – but not just at the palace.

The purpose of a royal tour is to promote the UK. Harry could have considered his own situation more important. However, the real lack of courtesy was not towards Prince Charles but towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which organizes these diplomatic missions.

Likewise, the couple spent months planning their Sussex Royal website without consulting the palace and government officials tasked with patrolling the use of the word ‘royal,’ under laws dating back to the 19th century.

These employees were not “vipers”. They were doing their job.

As for that “deadly” Commonwealth Day service: you don’t have to buy Finding Freedom to make up your mind. Everything is on the Internet.

If Harry looked a little nostalgic about him at times, that was to be expected. He had attended state events at the Abbey since childhood, most notably that heartbreaking farewell to his mother in 1997. Now here he was retiring from royal life. Of course, he looked thoughtful.

The Duchess, however, was radiant.

Yet, according to the book, she was deeply hurt by the “machinations” of officials who ensured that, unlike in “previous years”, the couple had been excluded from the royal procession while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did not. had not done.

In fact, the Sussexes had only been part of the procession once – in 2019.

On Commonwealth Day, the organizers put the Cambridges in the procession but not the Sussexes.  Harry and Meghan weren't happy but, by the way, palace officials or William and Kate, who could see what it might look like

On Commonwealth Day, the organizers put the Cambridges in the procession but not the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan weren’t happy but, by the way, palace officials or William and Kate, who could see what it might look like

The event is organized not by the Palace but by the Royal Commonwealth Society which likes to change the order of business every year.

In 2020, the organizers put the Cambridges in procession but not the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan weren’t happy but, by the way, palace officials or William and Kate, who could see what it might look like.

In order to avoid the ‘Harry and Meghan snubbed’ headlines, the Cambridges have also agreed to miss the procession.

Yet that book persists with the ‘snobbish’ narrative: “If looks were anything to go by, the Cambridges were unhappy with the decision.

“While Harry and Meghan both greeted William and Kate with smiles, the Cambridges showed little response. . . For the minutes leading up to the Queen’s arrival, William and Kate sat with their backs to the couple, only turning around to chat with Prince Edward and Sophie.

All I can suggest is that you see this “snub” with your own eyes. Kate was seated in front of Meghan and at the other end of the row. With 2,000 guests from the Abbey, live cameras from BBC1 and media nearby, now was not the time for the Duchess of Cambridge to turn around and start shouting gossip.

The Sussexes may want to describe all of this as a battle between a progressive force for good versus mediocre and questionable jobs. Sometimes they can be right. But the main theme of this book so far is not injustice. It’s a bad mood.

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