LONDON—Just in case you were wondering, Meghan still really hates the establishment at Buckingham Palace and resents them for depriving her of her voice, agency, and autonomy when she and Harry were still part of the official royal family.
How else to interpret an extraordinary statement from Meghan this weekend in which she accused shadowy forces at the palace of “dictating” that she change her name on her son Archie’s birth certificate?
On the original certificate, registered on May 17, 2019, the duchess gave her name as “Rachel Meghan Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex”.
But 19 days later on June 5, the royal couple submitted alterations to both their names.
The duchess’ name was “corrected” to merely read “Her Royal Highness Duchess of Sussex,” which prompted some speculation over why this had happened.
A spokeswoman for the duchess said: “The change of name on public documents in 2019 was dictated by The Palace, as confirmed by documents from senior Palace officials. This was not requested by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex nor by The Duke of Sussex.
“To see this UK tabloid and their carnival of so-called ‘experts’ chose to deceptively whip this into a calculated family ‘snub’ and suggest that she would oddly want to be nameless on her child’s birth certificate, or any other legal document, would be laughable were it not offensive.
“There’s a lot going on in the world—let’s focus on that rather than creating clickbait.”
The verb “to dictate”, just in case you were wondering, is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “to issue as an order” or “to impose, pronounce, or specify authoritatively” and Meghan’s use of the word in her angry statement certainly captures the sense that Meghan’s own wishes were regarded as completely irrelevant by the pen-pushers at the palace who imposed the change.
It is interesting to note that the Sun on Sunday, which broke the story over the weekend, claims that they contacted Meghan’s press team about the story but did not receive a reply.
It is fair comment by Meghan’s team that the newspaper’s speculation that the name-change might have been a pop at Kate Middleton was gratuitous—and daft. Indeed, this very point was noted by Tim Teeman in The Daily Beast’s weekly royal newsletter on Sunday, in which he wrote: “The Sun posits this as a snub against William and Kate, because Kate has her name on her kids’ birth certificates. The possibility the decision was made for personal, totally non-snub-related reasons is not raised.”
However the Sussexes’ policy of “zero engagement” with British tabloids such as the Sun seems guaranteed to result in the Sussexes’ side of the story not being put when those papers write about them.
Meghan has often complained that she felt silenced by the palace. In an interview with website The 19th, for example, she said: “I know what it’s like to have a voice, and also what it’s like to feel voiceless.”
In one of her very few joint appearances with William and Kate she was last to speak and, when the microphone was not handed to her, she said icily: “Don’t I have a voice?’
But it seems, at least from the Sun on Sunday’s account of events that she was asked to comment on the very odd change of name on Archie’s both certificate, which is after all a matter of public record, and chose not to.
That hardly counts as being silenced, and that means this is hardly a tale of outrageous press abuse that Meghan’s statement seems to suggest it is. It more seems to be a cautionary tale about the inadvisability of responding in a timely manner to genuine press enquiries. And given that Meghan and Harry have a $100m deal with Netflix and a lucrative podcast deal with Spotify, complaining about agency-denial by the palace several years ago seems a bit like fighting yesterday’s war.
As they note, there is “a lot going on in the world” right now.
On Sunday, Buckingham Palace sources suggested that a “clerical error and nothing more than that” was to blame for the alteration to Archie’s certificate.
One has to wonder whether Meghan, in using this story to pick at the scab of her troubled relationship with the palace and the press, is really making things better.
For, whilst it remains unclear why the birth certificate was altered, Meghan’s statement makes it quite clear that her aggrieved resentment of the palace is still not in question at all.