“PERFIDIOUS ALBION”
Posted on March 16th, 2021

Gamini Seneviratne

            That is a term that historians of colonization are familiar with as a descriptive of the duplicity, treachery and the breach of treaties that marked England’s relations with the peoples it sought to colonize / loot particularly in the 19th century.

            What this note addresses are the manifestations of trickery and the purveyance of falsehoods by and on behalf of the family that some people in Britain and some in former British colonies, directly and indirectly, support financially and otherwise. That applies in varying degree to its ancillary branches – few of them ‘blood relatives as, for example, Camilla Shand, Kate Middleton, Megan Markle are not – as well.

            What we have witnessed following Megan and Harry’s statements in an open interview is a series of cover-up tries by Royal Family Specialists”, by sleazy tabloids, by purveyors of fake news via radio and TV and other scandal mongers.

            The Specialists roused sympathy, aged old gals and old chaps struggling with their dentures, wishing this horrible lockdown was done, the pub open and ‘what was the word we were looking for?

Some tried to blame Megan and Harry for 99 year old Phillip’s health problems and asserted too that M & H were heartless to upset people despite a pandemic that has killed thousands of fine people who have always been behind the Royals and so remain. And will always do, amen.

One of them, the ‘This Morning’ interviewer pushed a close friend of Meghan, Janina Gavankar, for the desired answers and she said, I speak for myself. You speak for them!”

That more or less shut him up but then, surprise, the media mentioned above, went into Janina’s ‘bio-history’ finding, oh no wonder, her Asian roots.

            A more objective report, which is yet to be challenged by ‘the Palace’ or their ‘Press’ had the following: In an interview stuffed with quotable lines, it was among the most resonant: the invisible contract”, as the Duke of Sussex called it, that has bound the royal family and reporters together for years.

In this telling, it is not that the royals enjoy their media duties, or view them as a responsibility, but that the only way to survive the press is to strike a deal with it.

There’s a reason that these tabloids have holiday parties at the palace,” Meghan said. They’re hosted by the palace, the tabloids are. You know, there is a construct that’s at play there.”

How’s that for perfidy – which includes ‘their’ handling of the NHS, of vaccines and a multitude of related crimes against humanity?

And of ‘their’ view of ‘war crimes’ and the UNHCR?

            By the way, ‘Albion’is said to have been derived from a Roman term for ‘white’ –

But that had to do not with the skin colour of any of its inhabitants: ‘it referred to the white chalk cliffs along the south-east coast of England’.

Albion is the original name of England which the land was known as by the Romans, probably from the Latin albus meaning white, and referring to the chalk cliffs along the south-east coast of England. … Albion was replaced by the Latin ‘Britannia’, and the Romans called the natives of England the Britons.

“Perfidious Albion” is a pejorative phrase used within the context of international relations diplomacy to refer to acts of diplomatic sleights, duplicity, treachery and hence infidelity (with respect to perceived promises made to or alliances formed with other nation states) by monarchs or governments of the UK

In an interview stuffed with quotable lines, it was among the most resonant: the invisible contract”, as the Duke of Sussex called it, that has bound the royal family and reporters together for years.

In this telling, it is not that the royals enjoy their media duties, or view them as a responsibility, but that the only way to survive the press is to strike a deal with it.

There’s a reason that these tabloids have holiday parties at the palace,” Meghan said. They’re hosted by the palace, the tabloids are. You know, there is a construct that’s at play there.”

If the royal family’s dislike for the press was in any doubt, perhaps the most memorable confirmation came in Prince Charles’s remarks to his sons, caught by an unnoticed microphone, during a photoshoot in Klosters, Switzerland, on a skiing holiday in 2005.

I hate doing this. Bloody people,” he said through visibly gritted teeth, before focusing on the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell. I can’t bear that man anyway. He’s so awful, he really is. I hate these people.” They sat for the photos all the same.

The Prince of Wales with his sons during the Klosters photoshoot in 2005.

The Prince of Wales with his sons during the Klosters photoshoot in 2005 where he made comments on his views of the press.
Photograph: Arno Balzarini/AP

Now that Harry and Meghan have so explicitly identified that contract, it is hard to see them, at least, ever having a way back into it. But a seasoned royal communications operative says they have a point – and the deal still exists for the rest of the family.

They compared the relationship to that endured by politicians who seek positive headlines. This is the same battle every prime minister has. There is a quid pro quo relationship – there’s a reason senior officials try to build relationships with editors. It’s about negotiating for favourable coverage.”

It isn’t explicit stuff,” the former Buckingham Palace senior official argued. But often in times of a rough period of coverage, there’d be meetings arranged and you might find, for example, that an editor has a pet project that’s important to them on a personal basis.”

In a week that claims of media racism became a central part of the debate over the treatment of Harry and Meghan, Marcus Ryder, a visiting professor in media diversity at Birmingham City University, argued that a mixed-race woman’s arrival in the family fatally disrupted that cosy – if compromised – relationship.

The whole point of a culture like this is that it survives on the basis of unwritten rules,” he said. And so when somebody comes into that culture from outside, it forces you to address those rules, or even make them explicit, and in doing so reexamine them. It’s often the person from the margins who might make us reassess something like this.”

The final nature of that rupture was further reinforced when it emerged that the couple had complained to Ofcom about Piers Morgan’s discussion on Good Morning Britain of their interview, having already complained to ITV. It came as Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, wrote to the US broadcaster Viacom CBS over what it said was the indefensible” use of images during Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Sussexes that had been doctored or presented as headlines when they were not” to suggest racist coverage.

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While Harry and Meghan did not comment further themselves, they made their view on whether the media has a diversity problem even clearer on Friday when they made a launch donation to a new charity, the PressPad Charitable Foundation, which exists to improve socio-economic diversity within the media” – and announced Ryder as a trustee.

Three former royal reporters declined to comment on whether the old relationship was based on quid pro quos. But Priyanka Raval, an early-career journalist at the Bristol Cable – one of the outlets to withdraw from consideration for the Society of Editors’ Press Awards after it released a statement saying that there was no racism in the British media – said that as a journalist of colour she had long been sceptical of the mix of national newspapers and the monarchy. It’s the old establishment and the biased establishment, it’s a toxic combination,” she said. Meghan came in with naive fresh eyes and she might have accidentally disrupted this whole way of being.”

Raval said she was proud of the Bristol Cable, which is run as a cooperative, for taking a principled stance” on the subject and suggested that the crumbling of the previous consensus on coverage of the royals and racism alike should be used to make way for something better.

I really disagree with the insinuation that we have to close ranks,” she said. We’re doing journalism in a completely different way.”

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