SARAH VINE: Meghan the mermaid and a fairy tale with a fishy ending

Meghan the mermaid and a fairy tale with a fishy ending: As the Duchess claims she’s like a cursed Disney character, SARAH VINE asks does her story really hold water?

Fair to say, I think, that the Meghan and Harry interview with Oprah Winfrey raises so many more questions than it answers.

Which member of the Royal Family was it who allegedly expressed ‘concerns’ about Archie’s skin colour? Which sister-in-law actually made the other one cry? And did Prince Charles really stop returning his son’s calls?

The truth about all these, and many other allegations made by the couple, may never be known.

However, there is one thing that emerges quite clearly: the Duke and Duchess are plainly caught up in their very own Disney fairy tale fantasy.

It’s not just the general soapiness of their demeanour towards each other, present in every look and every gesture throughout the two-hour long confessional. It’s the fact that she even says it, in so many words.

Towards the end of their audience with Oprah, Meghan recalls sitting with Harry in their cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace when Disney animated film The Little Mermaid came on the TV.

There is one thing that emerges quite clearly from Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview: the Duke and Duchess are plainly caught up in their very own Disney fairy tale fantasy 

‘And I went, ‘Oh, my God, she falls in love with the prince’,’ she says. ‘And because of that, she has to lose her voice. But by the end, she gets back her voice’.’

Oh my God indeed, what wonderful serendipity. ‘Silence — or silenced.’ Geddit? Almost as though someone had scripted it. Indeed, Peter Morgan (writer of The Crown) could not have put it better himself.

For those readers unfamiliar with the canon, The Little Mermaid tells the story of beautiful Princess Ariel, daughter of Triton, who falls in love with a human prince, somewhat implausibly called Eric, after she saves him from a shipwreck.

In order to win his heart, she makes a deal with the evil sea-witch Ursula: in return for the beautiful mermaid’s voice, Ursula will give her legs so she can do dancing and go to balls and do other princess stuff.

Much drama ensues, a lot of it involving crustaceans; but in the end true love triumphs, Ariel gets her voice back — and the pair live happily ever after.

I must admit it’s a long time since I saw the 1989 film, so perhaps I missed the part where she and Eric trash his entire family’s reputation before selling off his crown jewels to Netflix, but you get the drift.

In Sunday’s interview, Meghan compared herself to Disney’s The Little Mermaid (pictured) – who falls in love with a prince and loses her voice 

And in many ways it’s a useful comparison because it speaks volumes about how Harry and Meghan see themselves, and probably explains far more about the couple’s behaviour than any of the rather vague accusations of maltreatment by ‘The Firm’.

So much of their anger and resentment seems to be directed towards those people — from Prince William, who famously questioned the speed of their romance, to the courtiers and Palace advisers who fell foul of them — who dared introduce the tiniest element of reality into their perfect fantasy.

A fantasy scripted as follows. Harry, the handsome, tortured Prince searching for that one true love; Meghan the wide-eyed innocent, noble not by birth but in spirit.

He, her protector, determined to shield her from the casual snobbery of his stuffy family — even at the cost of his own crown; she his emotional saviour, his one true path, cruelly traduced by the savage forces of convention but determined, through her diamond tears, to free him from the straitjacket of the past.

Everything they do — from the studious black and white shots of them cradling each other in an assortment of bucolic settings, to the homilies they post on social media — is intended to perpetrate this notion of theirs as The Greatest Love Story Of All Time, a triumph of good over evil, a stirring, heartwarming tale of love against the odds.

The image they seek to project is so aggressively perfect it’s actually a little bit scary.

And anyone who doesn’t buy into their ‘story’, or who dares question that precise narrative is, basically, a cartoon villain.

The Duchess of Cambridge is cast as one of the Ugly Sisters for making poor Cinders cry over the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Mean old father-in-law Charles cuts off his son and leaves them barely able to scrape together the millions to buy their Santa Barbara mansion.

The British newspapers are beastly because they don’t think it’s a terribly clever idea to pontificate about climate change and then fly half way around the world for a baby shower. And so on.

So why are Harry and Meghan so defensively in love with their own love story?

Why are they seemingly so determined to cast themselves as heroes of their own Disney romance? And why do they seem to think their love for each other gives them a right to ride roughshod over everyone else in their lives?

Why are Harry and Meghan so defensively in love with their own love story? Why are they seemingly so determined to cast themselves as heroes of their own Disney romance? And why do they seem to think their love for each other gives them a right to ride roughshod over everyone else in their lives?

In Harry’s case, it seems abundantly clear. His mother was a romantic whose dreams of being the perfect princess were cruelly dashed by the bitter realities of her marriage to Prince Charles.

He sees his father in large part as the architect of her agonies, and is determined not to let the same things happen to the woman he clearly adores.

Meghan is perhaps a little different. Like most little girls, she harboured dreams of princessdom. But hers went a little further than most.

The mother of one of Meghan’s closest childhood friends from school, Sonia Ardakani, once revealed that her daughter and Meghan were captivated by the life of Harry’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and used to watch a video of her wedding to Prince Charles over and over.

On a trip to London in 1996, the then 15-year-old Meghan was photographed smiling excitedly with a friend in front of Buckingham Palace — just as hundreds of tourists do every day because this is where the Queen lives.

And yet this contrasts with her assertion, in this interview, that she wasn’t much interested in the whole royal circus when she first met Harry.

‘I went into it naively,’ she says, ‘because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the Royal Family. It wasn’t something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.’

One final thought. In a now long-deleted post from her blog, The Tig, Meghan wrote: ‘Little girls dream of being princesses — and grown women seem to retain this childhood fantasy . . . just look at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the royal wedding and endless conversation about [sic] Princess Kate.’

Just look indeed. 

Like most little girls, Meghan harboured dreams of Princessdom. But hers went a little further than most. Pictured: Meghan Markle (left) outside Buckingham Palace while visiting London in 1996

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