If there’s one thing every agent and PR tells their famous clients, it’s never to read the comments “below the line” in any online article. Generally, this is sound advice, but in rare cases – such as Meghan and Harry’s, where good advice has repeatedly been ignored and delusion reigns – I wonder whether it may actually be helpful. A reality check. The therapeutic equivalent of an ice bath.
Take Sunday’s splash about the new cold war between the Sussexes and the Beckhams. Because apparently, David and Victoria are the latest to have been “Markled” (nixed, ghosted, frozen out or excised with the surgical precision the former actress is infamous for). This supposedly happened after Meghan and Harry began to suspect that the A-list friends they had so carefully cultivated were leaking stories about them to the press. And oh, it’s all so deliciously Year 7, isn’t it? Wagatha Christie with honours and titles.
Anyway, we’ve been told that the accusations, which the Mail on Sunday claims “came in a tense phone call”, left David “absolutely bloody furious” – and that “any making up now is unlikely”.
I would think so. There’s a reason the dispute between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy raged for two-and-a-half years, after Wayne Rooney’s wife accused the latter of leaking stories about her. Far worse than fraternising with the enemy is the implicit: “I’m more famous than you. Famous enough for you to be profiting from our connection”.
Cut to the comments beneath Sunday’s report, and it’s a variation on a single theme: “The Beckhams must be so relieved!” “If I were the Beckhams, I’d look at this as a lucky escape.” “Are we sure Posh and Becks didn’t dump the Markles?”
This does seem more likely. They would only be following the Hollywood herd if they had. After all, since the “Markles” dropped their cluster bomb of revelations – royal and otherwise – in December 2022 and January 2023 – scarcely a month has gone by without talk of another A-list cold-shouldering.
First it was Oprah Winfrey supposedly “distancing” herself; then singer Katy Perryand her fiancé Orlando Bloom, who were reportedly once close to the couple and Meghan and Harry’s neighbours in Montecito.
We heard that neither Steven Spielberg nor Rob Lowe, also neighbours, had made any attempt to get to know them, that Taylor Swift had turned down an invitation to appear on Meghan’s podcast, and that the Clooneys – who were, of course, at the wedding – are now no longer a part of their circle (asked how he knew Meghan, George is quoted as replying: “I don’t”).
I would ask, “where did it all go wrong?”, but I’m not mad-keen on rhetoricals.
When it comes to fads, fashion and friendships, Hollywood’s elite are nothing if not bovine, and there are two things they fear and flee from, above all else – and as someone who has lived in Los Angeles for many years, I have seen this first-hand.
The first is failure. Indeed, superstition around this is such that you only see the word mouthed by a certain sector, who are so terrified of “catching it” that they would mask up around anyone associated with a recent flop, firing or faux pas if they could. Although they would ideally never find themselves in the same room as that person again.
The second is indiscretion. Beyond being potentially damaging to one’s life and career, it’s seen as the preserve of reality stars and bored Beverly Hills housewives: basically tacky.
Asked why Harry and Meghan were being left off so many guest lists last year, one LA source told The Spectator that it was partly down to their “capacity to share”. Only Tinseltowners could call someone a “blabbermouth” with such passive aggressive grace.
But you can see why a couple prone to detailing the contents of their famous friends’ fridges in books (Harry helpfully told the world that he saw “mushroom chocolates” in Friends star Courteney Cox’s fridge during a party at her house) may not be top of many celebrities’ friendship lists.
Last week, US producer Paula Froelich touted another theory about the big Hollywood freeze-out. Quite simply: business. “Everyone’s got a movie to sell,” she explained, “and a Broadway play they want to debut on screen in London or [London’s] West End and they know that Prince William and Kate — who are the biggest [celebrity] gets over there – won’t show if they think someone is friends with Harry and Meghan.”
All this may leave many feeling gleeful, after the way that the couple treated their nearest and dearest. But when I think about everything the Sussexes could have been and done; how much was theirs for the taking? Well, to me it just seems very, very silly.
Harry and Meghan have violated the Hollywood A-lister code – and there’s no turning back. Harry and Meghan have violated the Hollywood A-lister code – and there’s no turning back