HOT on the heels of resigning from their families to spend more time with their “work”, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced that they will no longer be speaking to a hefty slice of the British media – including HOAR.
Begging the question: Will any of us actually notice?
For, despite largely positive coverage by the pro-monarchy outlets in question, this self-aggrandising couple have barely engaged with them on any level beyond sending threatening legal letters.
So they could have just continued as normal and skipped the part where, yet again, they create a drama when none exists while simultaneously claiming that they want to live a quiet life.
But all that aside, it was the timing of their breathtakingly imperious statement that really stank.
The world is in lockdown, trying to combat a killer virus, people are dying in their thousands, others are losing their businesses or jobs and young people are struggling to cope with being cooped up away from their friends.
So what do the self-appointed King and Queen of mental health issues do? Once again they try to pull focus and make it all about them.
On top of that, the decision to release it on the eve of the Queen’s official 94th birthday meant that the next day’s headlines were dominated by the Sussexes’ childish, “I’m not talking to you any more” declaration.
Bless them, they even sent it to The Guardian newspaper, which has remained on their approved list of media outlets despite wanting to scrap the monarchy upon which their ever-dwindling kudos is based.
It resists writing much about the Sussexes because it regards them as largely irrelevant, not because it’s showing deference to their, er, greatness, by toeing whatever PR line they’re churning out on any given week.
Meanwhile, the pro-royal newspapers and, more importantly, their collective millions of readers, have been placed on the naughty step.
But then, as the Queen’s former, long-running adviser Dickie Arbiter — who has known Harry since he was four — put it: “Prince Harry is not the brightest bunny on the planet.”
It was all going so well, wasn’t it?
For a multitude of reasons — among them his launch of the inspiring Invictus games — Harry was always our favourite royal by a country mile.
But despite a glorious and much-celebrated wedding day and glowing coverage of his first official tour with his new wife, his “cheeky chappie” demeanour changed and he seemingly became more brooding and bitter, particularly towards the newspapers his more media-savvy mother had actively courted.
Today, “the media” is an all-encompassing term that includes not just newspapers and magazines, but rolling news channels, websites and the ubiquitous “social media” that, one suspects, Harry just lumps together as one single irritant.
A journalist, who spent time with him for an article, revealed that he reads everything written about him and Meghan, which — as anyone in the public eye will tell you — is the route to madness.
Far better to view gossipy, rather than wholly factual, stories as if they were one of those Amaretti biscuit wrappers you set fire to in restaurants — something that burns brightly for mere moments before vaporising into the ether.
If Harry applied that philosophy, he’d find his mental health would improve markedly.
But instead he has turned his legal guns on four tabloid newspapers for “distorted, false or invasive beyond reason” coverage with-out providing a single example.
Newspapers do get things wrong occasionally, but there are checks and balances in place for corrections and, of course, laws too.
The internet, by comparison, is the Wild West.
But hey ho. As I say, this baffling statement will make zero difference to their already fractured relationship with the UK.
In an ideal world, every media outlet worldwide would form a pact that they will never again write about or use a photograph of the Sussexes.
The effect would be swift and damning.
For without the oxygen of publicity, what are they?
Shane feeling the strain
Married to a home-body, I have always rather envied those whose other halves travel frequently for their job.
It gives you the house to yourself sporadically (bliss) and makes you appreciate them when they return.
But in lockdown we are faring well because we are already used to being together most of the time.
A friend whose husband usually travels for work called me the other day to say that his sudden, constant presence in the home was causing friction.
And yesterday, Boyzone star Shane Lynch announced the sad news that lockdown has put his 13-year marriage to Sheena White under intolerable strain.
He says: “I’m not even in my family home right now because me and her were at each other’s throats.
“It wasn’t a good time or a good space.
“I’m usually on the road and for the first time I’ve spent three months in my house . . . it can be a struggle.”
Indeed it can. Let’s hope they sort it out for the sake of their two children.
Swedes seem to be right
Now the dust has settled around Professor Neil Ferguson’s original estimate of 500,000 Covid deaths, it’s perhaps time to stand back and take a logical overview of the situation.
While the death toll is still worrying, the mantra that we are critically harming the economy to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed is undermined by the news that many of the private hospitals repurposed for Covid patients are lying virtually empty and the 1,000-bed facility set up in London’s ExCel centre is only treating 40 people.
It’s adding credence to the burgeoning mindset that, perhaps, those who are considered vulnerable should remain in lockdown while the rest of the country makes a gradual return to school or work while maintaining strict social distancing measures.
On GMB yesterday, a gruff, Swedish professor, whose name escaped me, was asked to explain the thinking behind his country’s policy to keep everything open.
He replied: “People are not stupid.”
In other words, the Swedes are taking personal responsibility for how they behave and, as of earlier this week, the death rate was starting to decline.
It remains to be seen whether Sweden’s outlier stance proves to be the correct one, but one thing is for certain: Its economy may be weakened at the end of it, but it won’t be on the critical list like ours.
Model and businessman David Gandy talked about the importance of fostering at the weekend, under the headline, “OMG. He’s so cute!”
Indeed he is, was my immediate thought. My second was that I would happily foster him anytime.
However, it turns out the headline and suggestion of benevolence was aimed at Dora, his rescue pup from Battersea Dogs Home, for which David is an ambassador.
He says: “What I love about the evenings now is the calmness of a tired, sleeping dog at your side. I watch Dora dreaming.”
One wonders if she knows that, when it comes to good fortune, she has won the canine equivalent of the Lottery.
Jigsaws in quarantine
Jigsaws are getting me through the long days of lockdown.
Despite The Bloke’s lame attempts to hide the last piece (a joke that’s wearing thin) I completed my fifth at the weekend and, as an exercise in mindfulness, it’s right up there with any yoga retreat.
So imagine my joy when Kodak announced last week that it has produced the world’s largest jigsaw with, gulp, 51,300 pieces.
It is 27 separate images of world landmarks and, when finished, covers 16 square metres – about the size of a standard living room. Sadly, it also costs £400, so I’ll stick to my 1,000-piece cheapies.