Finding Freedom extracts 3, 4: Meghan & Harry first date, father drama

Finding Freedom extracts 3, 4: Meghan & Harry first date, father drama

I covered the first two excerpts from Finding Freedom published in The Times over the weekend – on Sussexit and the rift between the Sussexes and Cambridges – but when it came to covering the third one, I found it boring and never did. But when I visited The Times again, I found a fourth one which is more interesting, so I want to cover it today.

Before I do that, I realized that most people probably won’t be able to read the full Times articles I linked to in my previous posts (because it requires a subscription), and I didn’t quote the full excerpts in my articles. So I copied the text from the articles into PDFs so that you can read them if you want. I’ve linked the PDFs in my original articles, and you can also view them here: Excerpt 1 PDF; Excerpt 2 PDF.

Disclaimer again: grain of salt when reading these excerpts.

The third excerpt published in The Times is about Meghan’s father and how he posed for pap photos and then lied about it, and the text exchanges in the run up to the wedding. It’s mostly a rehash of the text messages that were released in April as part of Meghan’s lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday. I doubt Scobie and Durand pulled the texts from the lawsuit for their book since those were only released in April and the book is published and ready to go for their August release (clearly the authors had sources and such), but because the text messages were released a few months ago I just wasn’t interested in this article. You can read the article over at The Times, or in PDF format here.

The fourth excerpt I find more interesting, but both excerpt 3 and excerpt 4 contain rather intimate details that lead me to question the Sussexes’ claim that they had no hand in this book. Because either Harry and Meghan did okay this information entering the public sphere, or we should expect another lawsuit against the authors, because the claims in these excerpts are just as or more intimate than any of the information the press has published before.

After that long intro, let’s jump into excerpt 4. Like with all previous excerpts, you can read the full article over at The Times, or the PDF version here. I will only be quoting the parts I want to comment on.

The couple prefer to keep the story of their matchmaker a mystery, even to close friends. Meghan’s only clue to pals at the time was that her first encounter with Harry was “serendipitous”.

I think we have it, folks, John Cusack was obviously the one to set up Harry and Meghan. Or Kate Beckinsale, but it’s probably definitely John Cusack.

No one expected what happened next. “Almost immediately they were almost obsessed with each other,” a friend said. “It was as if Harry was in a trance.” Meghan called one of her girlfriends. “Do I sound crazy when I say this could have legs?” she asked.

Context: This was after their first date. “It was as if Harry was in a trance” – I mean, that’s probably why William and others felt the need to tell Harry to take it slow.

At the end of the evening, which had lasted almost three hours, Harry and Meghan went their separate ways. Despite the palpable attraction between them, there was no goodbye kiss, no expectation, just a hint that something was there and they hoped to see each other again soon. […]

According to a friend, Harry and Meghan “chatted a lot” that evening, which ended chastely with Harry returning to Kensington Palace. Still, their chemistry had been electric throughout the meal as they both flirted. A touch of an arm here, direct eye contact there. […]

The next night, Meghan left her hotel and got into a taxi like any ordinary citizen. Except as the cab wound through London’s dark winding streets, it had no ordinary destination: Kensington Palace.

These descriptions of their first three days of knowing each other are overly intimate. I’m not sure why we need to know that their first two days were “chaste”, but by not mentioning it for the third the authors are basically telling us Harry and Meghan totally banged that third day. Which OMG we do not need to know. But this goes back to the fact that this book has more intimate details than the regular press reporting for which Harry and Meghan are suing.

Six weeks later Harry said he wanted to take her on a trip. He told her to arrive in London and he would handle the rest. Having flown in from Toronto, Meghan spent one night with Harry at Kensington Palace before boarding a flight to Johannesburg the next morning. That was followed by two hours on a private light airplane to Maun International Airport. Then they jumped into a 4×4 to Okavango Delta — a stunning 5,800 square mile wetland in Botswana’s safari country. They stayed for most of the trip in one of the $1,957-a-night deluxe tents.

A friend said, “She came back smiling and just completely spellbound.” Her phone was full of photos — the nature they had seen, candid snaps of herself, and selfies with Harry. According to the friend, if Meghan didn’t have to return to Canada for work and Harry to his life in London, “they would have happily spent the entire summer there together”.

I’ve always found the timeline of this Botswana date interesting, because we were told in July 2016 that Harry was going to southern Africa on a work trip so he could work on various conservation projects. Palace aides said at the time the trip was privately funded, so that’s not an issue, but I just think it’s interesting. Especially since “a friend” says “if Meghan didn’t have to return to Canada for work and Harry to his life in London”, but he wouldn’t have been? Like, Harry was supposedly in Africa for 6 weeks or something, so he didn’t return to London after their vacation because we was still working on his conservation stuff for the rest of the summer. So that quote doesn’t entirely make sense. Unless KP misrepresented the timeline, and amount, of Harry’s conservation work in 2016.

A tabloid was going to run with the story of their relationship. Their main worry was that her place would be besieged by photographers within 24 hours. They had a little time to think, because there were only a couple of paparazzi in Toronto. (One of them had already texted Meghan to ask if the news was true; she didn’t reply.) But it wouldn’t be long before photographers flew in from New York and LA, all hoping to get that first picture of the happy couple. Another media outlet had also confirmed their pairing and knew that they were together in Toronto, but agreed with the Palace to hold off reporting the news until Harry had returned home.

Harry’s phone wouldn’t stop pinging with word from the Palace. Aides suggested it would be best for Harry to cut his trip short and quietly return to London, his minimal security now something of an issue. But the prince wasn’t having it. He wasn’t budging.

This confirms that Harry was in Toronto with Meghan when the news broke that they were a couple. There were contradicting reports at the time.

While Meghan, before she met Harry, had occasionally set up a paparazzi photo here and there or let info slip out to the press […] Prior to meeting Harry, the only times she experienced cameras were on a set or a red carpet.

Those two sentences are about half a dozen short paragraphs apart. The first one literally contracts the second one.

When Harry decided to make an official statement, the only stumbling block was Prince Charles. On a diplomatic tour in the Middle East, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall had just arrived in Bahrain to meet the country’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. It was a critical moment that had been in the works for months. A statement from Kensington Palace condemning the press and, in the same breath, confirming Harry’s new girlfriend would all but eliminate coverage of Prince Charles’s tour of the Gulf.

The Palace decided to go ahead with the statement nonetheless, much of which was drafted by Harry himself. Charles learnt of it just 20 minutes before it went out. Sure enough, as soon as Harry put out his declaration, the statement dominated the news cycle.

At the time Harry released his statement, the press furor had been dying down and the statement reignited it (from what I remember). It had been over a week, though, since the initial Express article breaking the relationship, and it was four days into Charles’ tour. That tour ended on Nov 11 (going by the CC), and I guess Harry couldn’t overshadow the Remembrance Day events, but still. The timing is interesting, especially since the statement was released on Election Day in the US of all days.

I said at the time that I respected Harry for not leaving Meghan out to dry since, especially in that first week, Meghan was receiving a sh-tstorm of press and public comments and negativity – and sexist and racist comments; from what I remember, her IG comment section was a garbage fire. I stand by that. Regardless of how I think they handled Sussexit, in that first week Harry definitely needed to do something because otherwise it seemed he was letting Meghan take all the hits alone and that just makes Harry look like a bad partner.

My overall thoughts on the excerpts and the book: I’m not super into the overwrought language used for the book, and I dislike that no one has gone on the record – it’s written as if the authors’ were there or have deep insider knowledge of Harry and Meghan’s headspace, yet it only uses anonymous sources. This is basically a very long press article in that it’s all just anonymous sources and speculation. It’s just not my jam. I obviously found it entertaining enough to cover it three times, but that’s about it for me.

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