DO you remember when Meghan Markle was just the kind of breath of fresh air needed to sweep through the musty old corridors of the Royal Family?
Oh yes, we had Kate and Will but they had become a bit, well, staid what with his bald patch and her tan tights.
Meghan, however, was something different.
She was new and glamorous and American. A woman of colour, a Hollywood star, a charity worker and a gal used to running her own, highly successful life.
Meghan hadn’t snagged a prince – he’d snagged her. What a coup for Harry! And The Royals! And Britain!
And the wedding! Didn’t she look fabulous? Didn’t she handle those difficult relatives well? And those photos of her and the Queen giggling together – even the monarch loves her. Get her face on the tea towels and key rings quick.
But that was last year and if a week is a long time in politics, then six months is a lifetime when it comes to Royalty.
Now, Meghan is that new friend we all loved in the beginning and have gone off; the colleague who was welcomed with open arms at the office but who is now gossiped about at the kettle or in the ladies.
She’s difficult, they say. Demanding and haughty and prone to self-pity. Staff at the palace have quit, others keep out of her way.
She is conducting a “feud” with Kate, they say, and has driven the two Royal brothers apart by insisting on moving home.
Meghan keeps cradling her bump in a “funny way” too – obviously trying to draw more attention to herself.
Her handwriting has been analysed – prone to “anger and self-pity” was the conclusion – and she has now had the temerity to “change” the way she speaks to sound more British.
Manipulative, you see. We knew it all along.
Except we didn’t and we don’t.
All these stories, leaked by palace “insiders” or people “close” to the Royal household and merrily seized on by some parts of the British press, are hog-wash.
Perhaps she was demanding about her wedding. Show me a woman who isn’t.
Maybe her and Kate aren’t best mates but so what? They are very different people.
She wanted her own home. Why is that a crime?
And, of course, she’s changed the way she talks. She’s living in London, not LA, and is probably trying her very hardest to blend in.
What we’re seeing here is the peculiarly British sport of building someone up, placing them on a pedestal and then delighting in knocking them off.
And it’s very ugly.
You’d think we’d have learned our lesson after the treatment meted out to the woman who would have been Meghan’s mother-in-law, Lady Di, ultimately destroyed by the speculation and scrutiny which marked her life as a princess.
Here in 2019 nobody is pursuing royalty on bikes or hiding in bushes but, thanks to social media, what’s being done to Meghan is just as bad.
Her every move, style choice and word is picked over and attacked. What starts as a half-baked snippet of gossip solidifies, gets amplified into the “truth” and before you know it is all over the web as fact.
This is psychological warfare against a woman about to give birth whose only crime was to marry into a famous family.
Meghan has a public role but she isn’t public property. She’s just a human being who deserves better.
LAST week I wrote about how cross people seem to be these days. Happily, many of you disagreed and gave me examples of random acts of kindness which had touched you.
My favourite was a bloke who wrote about how his 16-year-old daughter had been taken for a meal on Valentine’s Day by her boyfriend. At the end they asked for the bill only to be told it had already been paid, the waitress wouldn’t say by whom.
Being kids they were perplexed and a bit flustered. And then they remembered an elderly man who had been in the restaurant with them, dining alone with just a book for company, who had looked over once or twice and smiled at the pair.
Had it been he who had settled the bill, a small act of generosity to acknowledge his own past love on the most romantic day of the year?
I’d like to think so.