One Friday morning in seventh grade, I was late to school. Not because I missed the bus or forgot something at home, but because my eyes were glued to the television, enraptured by the main event of 2011: Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.
Seventh-grade me was among the 23 million Americans tuning into the royal wedding and one of countless viewers worldwide, spanning an estimated 180 countries. Like so many others, I’ve been a loyal follower of the drama that surrounds the British royal family.
While American pop culture tends to focus on modern famous families like the Kardashians, royal family drama has been plastered on the front of British tabloids and newspapers for generations.
William and Kate’s wedding was just one example of the power the royal family holds over international media. But now our focus — or at least mine — turns to William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan Markle, a former actress from Los Angeles.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their first child in the coming days, and naturally, the British media are dedicating much of their coverage to the soon-to-be parents. Royal family enthusiasts like myself are searching for any sort of sign that “Baby Sussex” is coming, but Harry and Meghan are notorious for shielding themselves from the relentless media.
In fact, the two have already canceled the traditional royal family photo-op outside the maternity ward. Personally, those photos always troubled me. Kate Middleton has walked out of the hospital after giving birth to each of her children, looking prim and proper in a new dress, exposing her newborn baby to the vulture-like paparazzi.
Despite this, I’ve always watched the whole spectacle online, because no matter how many ethical issues surround the coverage of the royal family, I keep coming back for more.
Meghan has been affected by offensive comments — mostly racist or sexist — on social media since her relationship with the prince went public. During wedding preparations, numerous outlets claimed that she was a bridezilla, and the comments have only continued since Kensington Palace announced her pregnancy.
The media conditions were, and continue to be, so bad for the couple that the Palace has issued multiple statements about their personal matters — a rarity for the royal family — to limit the constant berating.
Harry undoubtedly holds a skewed view of the media, as his mother Princess Diana suffered similar criticism while married to Prince Charles — she died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi.
I completely understand where Harry and Meghan are coming from in trying to keep this important and personal moment to themselves — but I can’t help but look at this from the media’s perspective as well. Newspapers, blogs and other outlets have been banking on covering this baby’s birth since the pregnancy announcement came in October, but now, they are left empty-handed.
Even though the royal newborn will be shielded from the flashing cameras at first, it won’t last for long. Growing up in the spotlight comes with the royal territory. Sooner or later, this baby’s life will be plastered on the front of tabloids across the world, and you can bet I’ll be picking up my copy straight off the press.