Day three of the extracts and already many of us are royally keen to find freedom from Finding Freedom: the new book that charts the desperate flight of a family of refugees from the ermine-clad clutches of the British monarchy.
The suffering of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have fled from a luxurious mansion in Windsor to seek sanctuary in a luxurious mansion in Hollywood via a luxurious mansion in Vancouver, is not for the faint-hearted.
Over hundreds of tear-stained pages, authors Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie chronicle the litany of cruelty and oppression that the Sussexes endured during their short-term membership of the Royal Family.
Brace yourselves for bombshell revelations, such as the afternoon the Queen was too busy to see the Sussexes and they had to wait for an appointment like everyone else. On another occasion, the Duchess of Cambridge failed to give the Duchess of Sussex a lift to the shops.
Elsewhere, Meghan once tried and failed to catch her sister-in-law’s eye during a service at Westminster Abbey, and there was the unforgettable day when Harry was upset to see a disobliging reader’s comment about himself on a newspaper website.
If you have a peeled onion to hand, please feel free to wave it under your eyes as we turn to an incident back in the beginning, when Prince William fretted that his younger brother was rushing into things with his new girlfriend.
Harry was furious when William advised him to ‘get to know this girl’ first.
Well, what’s wrong with that?
Everything, apparently. According to Finding Freedom: ‘In those last two words, “this girl”, Harry heard the tone of snobbishness that was anathema to his approach to the world.’
Wait, what? It is hard to see anything pejorative in these loving brotherly concerns, or fail to conclude that, on the evidence so far, the Sussexes’ grievances don’t add up to a hill of half-baked beans.
To be frank, when it comes to misery memoirs, Finding Freedom isn’t exactly about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. It’s more like Kevin the teenager and Veruca Salt dictating their feeble moans to Scooby-Doo and Velma, who then publish their findings as The Secret Diary Of Mr And Mrs Adrian Mole.
The peevish tone is monstrous and unrelenting, while their utter vacuity and self-absorption comes as no surprise.
Yet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have always taken pains —huge pains! — to stress how serious they are about their self-appointed role as world saviours. Not for them the ancient royal prerogative of gorging on peeled grapes while reclining on padded velvet, oh dear me, no.
From the get-go, they virtue- signalled a philanthropic and campaigning agenda that they hoped would enrich the planet. They wanted to make a difference, they wanted to change the world — but most of all, they wanted to matter. Within royal cloisters or on the global stage, he was to be an homme serieux, she a woman of substance.
Together they would be a force for good, writing on bananas and so forth, insisting the populace should acknowledge the racist past of the Commonwealth (what?) or lecturing us on our travel choices. To be or not to be? To private jet or not to jet? These were the questions.
But now we discover that behind the scenes they weren’t always lending their voices to those who could not be heard, because they were forever joined in harmony in one long howl of childish petulance; an endless grumble about lack of status and respect from within and without the House of Windsor.
Here they carp, they grouse, they seem aggrieved that their needs and wants always seem to come second, third and fourth to the Queen’s, the Cornwalls’ and the dastardly Cambridges’.
The couple feel belittled and overlooked, especially as they suspect they are the hot new stars in the cobwebbed royal orbit. To this end, they saw every request denied as an act of sabotage, their star power deliberately diluted as they were restricted to humdrum pageantry.
What did the pair of them want or expect?
Top billing, it seems. What is remarkable is that Harry’s whole life and entire upbringing have been devoted and calibrated to him being a prince. Surely he understands how it works? Surely he could have explained the system to his vexed new bride?
Primarily, that being royal is a form of active service, with ranks and a hierarchy so uncomplicated that schoolchildren throughout the realm understand the line of succession and its importance to the Windsors — and to us.
In Finding Freedom, Meghan is blithely compared to Kate as ‘a fellow senior working member of the Royal Family and the wife of William’s brother’.
Yet Meghan failed to grasp the simple truth that, constitutionally, she was not quite her sister-in-law’s equal. And that is nothing personal, nothing racist, nothing sinister, nothing bad. It is just the way it works when you are a not-so-merry wife of Windsor.
Within the pages of Finding Freedom, we learn that the Duchess of Sussex found royal life pitiless and friendless, not the fairy tale she had dreamed of since she was a little girl.
Here, in the badlands of Buckingham Palace, her hard-won Hollywood status mattered for nothing — and the overwhelming suggestion seems to be that she and Harry thought that it should count for more. Much more.
One can understand their impulse to flee. Perhaps they asked themselves this: if we don’t decide what we’re worth, who will? But everything they do seems to make matters worse, not better.
Each time they attempt to wrest control of the narrative, they only expose themselves to more ridicule. Sometimes one wonders if they ever stop to smell the roses or read the room or even consider the deep ignominy of their own situation.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex like to portray themselves as a deeply woke couple who fashionably concern themselves with the sins of the past and the turpitudes of history, particularly the awfulness of what went before versus the enlightenment of today.
Yet if they truly believed in any of that, they would be against hereditary royalty in every form. They would be ashamed to take their place in such an elitist conspiracy of privilege.
Yet here they are, as portrayed by sympathetic journalists in this laughable book, cavilling at every lackey or brother or newspaper who failed to deliver due deference or give them the esteem and status they feel they deserved.
They may have found freedom, but in airing these ten-a-penny gripes, they have lost even more respect.