Meghan Markle is on the comeback trail. Her husband's obsession just derailed it.

Taking pictures of people without their consent to sell to the highest bidder is a s**tty way to make a living.

The results are in after decades of celebrity culture, and it just is. Mental health calamity and physical endangerment are just two of the problems that we've seen consistently play out for regular targets of the "paps". 

Being followed everywhere by a baying pack of photographers used to be seen as the price you paid for fame, and for having lots and lots of money. The nasty aftertaste to the big glug of cash that came with your latest song/movie/book/deal. I admit, I used to subscribe to that theory, as an editor of a celebrity magazine. This is what the big bucks are for, the justification went. 

But I can see that's nonsense, now. It's stalking and harassment with a fizzy name. That's it. 

Watch: Prince Harry on Meghan Markle's mental health. Post continues after video. 

Video via NBC.

There's no nuance or mystery in Prince Harry's relationship with the paparazzi. In his view, they killed his mother. 

In his mega-selling book, Spare, he spells out, more than once, how even the sound of a camera shutter click-click-clicking is traumatic for him. Literally. Knowing that was the last sound his mum heard in that tunnel in France in August, 1997, is almost unbearable. 

Prince Harry absolutely hates the paparazzi. 


The problem is: He's famous. And so is his wife. He has been, since birth, through no choice of his own. She has been, for a decade or so, because she wanted to be. From Bo Burnham to Kim Kardashian, famous people get followed by paparazzi. And so, Prince Harry can not fully escape his torturers. 

It's maddening, and Harry has made it his mission, his life's work, to get rid of them. To regulate press intrusion. To sue when lines are crossed and to push back against every unflattering rumour. It's become, it seems, his full-time job. 

But what happened this week in New York City was an unnecessary own goal in the Sussexs' war against the media. 

Because it was meant to be Meghan's big night. 

Meghan, the Duchess, has been lying low all year. It's been a strategic choice to keep her head down during Harry's promotion of Spare. And to stay away from the Coronation, and out of the firing line for all the lead-up speculation. A considered retreat because – and it's unquestionably true – she cops an unfair share of racist, misogynistic abuse, and it sucks up all the oxygen in any room. Let Harry have his moment, let the King get his crown and then... it's Meghan's time to shine. 

As it was on Tuesday night in New York City. She was receiving an award from a reputable feminist organisation, Gloria Steinem's Ms Foundation For Women. She was one of four recipients of for the Women Of Vision award, alongside women who had done incredible work in electoral representation of women of colour, the rights of trans youth, and access to abortion. She was making a speech. Her mother was there. It was a big deal. 

She and Harry and her proud mum, Doria Ragland, posed for the approved photographers, Meghan in a red-carpet-worthy gold dress. She was back in the spotlight for exactly what she wanted to be in the spotlight for: good causes, and improving the lot of women and girls. Next up on the roll-out? More work with Netflix, more work with Spotify, a possible reinvention of her lifestyle blog, The Tig, and a memoir of her own. 


Listen to this episode of Mamamia Out Loud, where Holly discusses the now-infamous car chase. Post continues after podcast. 

But no-one's talking about Meghan's award or Meghan's career. Everyone's talking about the extraordinary sort-of car chase that happened across Manhattan immediately afterwards. 

Everyone from the New York Times to the ABC to – the Sussex's Voldermort – The Daily Mail. They are all covering how and why savvy celebrities with a professional security detail spent two hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic in a slow-motion attempt to get away from a pack of photographers who were trying to... what? Get pictures of the couple who'd just been photographed standing up, now sitting down? Media outlets across the world are interviewing the bemused taxi driver, who said the paparazzi "kept their distance". They're making memes and telling jokes and basically painting Harry as overreacting and hysterical. 

What they're also reporting is that over in Britain, one of the five lawsuits Prince Harry is currently engaged in is with the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police about his security and protection. Ever since his Gran, The Queen, and then his Dad, The King, pulled the official and paid-for security detail that comes with the job of being a working royal, Harry has been furiously trying to prove it was a reckless, dangerous decision that puts his wife and children in danger. And maybe it is. 

But the Home Office says it's not their job to protect rich and famous people when they're in Britain. Even if Harry will pay for it himself, they say, it will take resources from elsewhere and he can use a private security firm, like every other multi-millionaire visiting London. 


It also seems likely that other famous people in New York City have figured out how to leave a high-profile, scheduled public event without getting embroiled in a stand-off with photographers that takes two visits to a police station to resolve. Ask Beyoncé how she does it. Or Taylor Swift. Or Justin Timberlake. Or Leonardo DiCaprio. 

This high-stakes pursuit narrative suits Harry's cause. 

But what about Meghan's cause? The woman whose big night was eclipsed by a toxic row about what constitutes a high-speed chase. Who is married to a man who equates a camera-click with death, yet needs cameras to keep her profile high, and allow her to do the work she clearly sees as her calling?

How is that a conflict that can ever be resolved?

They need the attention to allow them to do the job they love and clearly see as their calling. And yet, the attention is making them sick.  

Again, taking pictures of people without their consent to sell to the highest bidder is a s**tty way to make a living.

Harry and Meghan do not owe those people a photo, a smile, or a split-second of their time. And yet, they just gave them two hours, global headlines and photos that were worth a lot more than they were before this night became infamous.

It's hard to see how Meghan 3.0 is going to get any clear air to soar. 

Image: Getty + Mamamia.