JAN MOIR: Look out, it’s Operation MEGHAN

JAN MOIR: Look out, it’s Operation MEGHAN

At some point, perhaps when she was preparing another cosy supper at Nottingham Cottage, I like to think the moment came when Meghan Markle decided enough was enough.

She slammed the organic chicken into the oven, pounded the avocados with an unknown ferocity and realised that another glass of cinnamon tea wasn’t going to calm her down this time.

‘Harry,’ she said, addressing the Prince, who was sitting in an armchair, giggling over his copy of The Beano. ‘I’m just not going to take it any more.’

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex presents the Celebrating Excellence Award to Nathan Forster, a former soldier of the Army’s Parachute Regiment, at the Endeavour Fund awards at Drapers’ Hall on Thursday

Jan Moir: ‘Meghan, you are brave and you are strong. But darling, the only way to survive this narrative is to grin and bear it’

‘Take what, babe?’ he wondered, fearful that he was in trouble for not memorising the latest speech she had hand-crafted for him; worried that she was going to make him eat tofu mince again; scared of a world in which his headstrong wife wrote messages on bananas without checking with him first.

What other fruit-based folly lay ahead of him now? Prince Harry trembled in his crested slippers.

‘Tired of all this rubbish about me,’ she cried. ‘All this nonsense about my father and my sister and my tiara demands and my fight with Kate. I am going to do something about it.’

Before Harry could advise caution, she grabbed a pen and a fresh bunch of bananas then started making lists. Operation MEGHAN (Make Everyone Gush, Honour And Nurture) was underway.

Well, no. Stop it. Perhaps it didn’t happen like that at all. However, if life in the glittering citadel of the Sussexes increasingly looks like a crazed soap opera peopled by hysterics, then the couple have only themselves to blame.

In an article published in the American magazine People this week, five close friends of the Duchess spoke out anonymously to ‘tackle the lies’ told about her. The pals also wanted to confront what they called ‘global bullying’ and accentuated the positive in every paragraph.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive to attend the Endeavour Fund Awards at Drapers Hall

What kind of person is she, pray tell? Let the egging of the pudding begin.

‘She is a diamond who is doing her duty,’ they dutifully gushed. It was her father who was at fault in their fractious relationship, not her.

She had begged him to come to her wedding and then pleaded with him to stop ‘victimising’ her in the media.

Apparently every utterance of his was ‘an arrow to the heart’, and I don’t doubt it. Plus, all that stuff about tiaras and church smells and falling out with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge? What rot, they said.

Instead, they spoke of Meghan as a selfless, elegant, graceful philanthropist; a wonderful cook, friend, dog lover extraordinaire and fabulous hostess.

For good measure, she is also a spiritual being with ‘a deep sense of gratitude’ and a ‘close relationship to God’.

It is hard to imagine that they furnished these intimate details without her explicit approval and blessing — or that the Palace knew about this elaborate rebuttal of Duchess-based negativity.

Indeed, perhaps courtiers were even amazed to read of their own reactions on the day when Meghan gave free ice creams and sorbets to Kensington Palace staff and they all said it was ‘the best day ever’.

Well, everyone who hadn’t already resigned, that is.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex departs after visiting the Bristol Old Vic

On the one hand, such an astonishing PR move shows just how desperate Meghan must be. Poor kid! It suggests that she didn’t really understand what marrying into the Royal Family meant.

Of the fishbowl existence that awaited her and of the opinions ventured on everything from her tights (or lack of) to her nail polish. I hate to think of her, sitting in her royal palace, making gourmet treats for her dogs between doing good deeds, fretting about online trolls and the mischievous things people say about her.

One understands the need to hit back, to right a wrong, to set the record straight. That certainly works if you are an actress in dire need of some positive publicity to promote your latest film.

It is a less successful strategy when you happen to be a Duchess whose rogue actions serve only to undermine the Royal Factory and, ultimately, the Queen herself.

Meghan’s People feature reads like some touchy-feely Californian blog, or a campaign to elect a homecoming queen. Whatever it is or is not, it hardly befits a Windsor.

There is so much to admire about the Duchess of Sussex. So much!

She is a woman who had to generate her own career, be her own chief cheerleader. Throughout her acting days, she was the wind beneath her own wings, she climbed into the cannon and lit the fuse herself — all hail to her smarts and her ambition. But those days are over and Meghan has to realise she is no longer the ingénue actress trying to win an audience and then bask in their endless approval.

She has married into the British Royal Family, a motley lot who have had more than their own fair share of ‘global bullying’. From the Queen on down, they have all had to negotiate the shifting sands of public opinion and personal hurts. It comes with the territory.

It is also non-negotiable. And, yes, it might be unbearable for a young woman used to applause and the adoration of her friends — but the only way forward is to bear it.

It sounds like she feels aggrieved with her welcome in the UK, but I suspect the Duchess of Sussex is more adored that she believes.

Her popularity suggests she has no need of hagiographic articles in glossy magazines. She is greeted with cheers wherever she goes, held up everywhere as an inspiration to all. It is awful that she has had to bear the cruel rantings of her bitter half-sister and the protestations of her stumbling, shambolic father. No wonder millions of us sympathise with her plight.

It’s enough to make me want to grab some fruit and send her a bananagram of my own. Meghan, you are brave and you are strong. But darling, the only way to survive this narrative is to grin and bear it.

If it is a good enough strategy for the Queen, it is good enough for you, too.

May the force be with you, Penny

Penny Lancaster in Famous and Fighting Crime

Evening all. I’ve got some arresting news. A new reality series called Famous And Fighting Crime starts on Monday (Channel 4).

Can you guess the concept? Right first time. A selection of celebrities have been picked for duty, climbing into uniform to help the Cambridge Constabulary police the city streets.

First out on patrol is Penny Lancaster, wife of Sir Rod Stewart. Well. You can see why they chose her.

She is tall, imposing and had years of experience dealing with football hooligans who’ve had too much to drink. 

Also with gobby women who are completely out of control, via her regular stints as a panellist on ITV’s Loose Women.

Penny said that she loved her time on the beat and is thinking of becoming a volunteer.

Other celebrities taking part include TV presenter Katie Piper, Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing and Gogglebox star Sandi Bogle.

The mind boggles, but the force is with them. 

‘Hero’ goalie was simply doing his job

Newport County goalkeeper Joe Day had a clash of interests: an important FA Cup match against Middlesbrough, versus the possibility of his wife Lizzie going into labour with their twins during the match.

What were the chances? What to do? Thank goodness Joe put his football duty first. He even had a clean sheet in his team’s historic 2-0 shock victory over the bigger club.

Twin girls Sophia Grace Day and Emelia Lillie Day, born to parents – Newport County goalkeeper Joe Day and his wife Lizzie

Afterwards he roared off in a taxi to the hospital to meet his baby daughters, Sophia and Emilia.

A lovely story, for which Joe has been hailed a hero — but why? Surely his duty lay with his team-mates, the club and the fans? Even in these days when giving birth has become a spectator sport and dads need even more time to recover from the ordeal than mums.

Actually, lots of women I know would prefer just to get on with it themselves, rather than having Hubs fainting in the delivery room and generally making a nuisance of himself. And I am sure lots of men, given the choice, would prefer to be playing football instead, too.

Hang on. This just in. Apparently Joe turned his mobile phone off during the match, further testament to his dedication. What?? Players are allowed to take phones onto the pitches? I blame David Beckham. For everything.

When are you too old to work? It’s a numbers game

At the tender age of 75, John Humphrys is reluctant to leave his post on the Today programme. And why not? He is still a first-class broadcaster, one whose hard-won skills and years of experience are an advantage, not a drawback.

Meanwhile restaurateur Jeremy King is on a crusade to recruit more employees aged 50 or over in his Wolseley and Delaunay outposts.

John Humphrys will step down from the Today programme in the autumn

Glad to hear it! This untapped older workforce have so much to offer. Sometimes, as a customer, it is so lovely to be treated with understanding and humanity, rather than suffer the cruel indifference of selfish youth. Yet when is old too told?

In a rather amazing case this week, an 88-year-old NHS administrator has just won her age discrimination case. The tribunal backed Eileen Jolly’s claims of unfair dismissal in 2017, agreeing that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of age and disability.

Colleagues had made ‘inappropriate and hurtful comments’ and had told bosses they were concerned about her ‘frailty’. To be fair, Eileen did have a cardiac arrest at work in 2004. She also had arthritis and walked with a stick, but had not had a day off sick for ten years. Should she have still been at her post?

She was not part of the young old (60-69 years), the middle old (70 to 79) but what the terminology of ageing now calls the very old (80-plus). Ms Jolly was accused of errors that meant breast cancer surgery patients had to wait over a year for treatment. She may have been at fault, but if her colleagues knew there was a problem, perhaps they should have done more about it, rather than just call her names.

It seems like a collective failure of will — and a sad end to a lifetime of professional dedication. But is an eightysomething employee too old to be in charge of complicated computer systems in an overworked, underfunded organisation? All I’m saying is that I’m glad she’s not in charge of my medical records.

A funeral for Four Weddings, please!

The cast of Four Weddings And A Funeral have reunited for a Comic Relief special. Are we really ready for this?

Four Weddings And A Funeral: (left to right) Rowan Atkinson (Father Gerald), Kristin Scott Thomas (Fiona), Sophie Thompson (Lydia), John Hannah (Matthew), Andie MacDowell (Carrie), Hugh Grant (Charles), Anna Chancellor (Henrietta), David Haig (Bernard), James Fleet (Tom)

Last year’s reboot of Love Actually was bad enough. Now we have to contend once more with Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant creaking through their love paces like knackered horses en route to the glue factory.

The original, low-budget tale of bumbling bachelor (Hugh) was awful enough first time around, back in 1994.

As a display of English awkwardness and diffidence, the entire film is hard to beat and who would want to? That endless cavalcade of charming, eccentric rich people with perfect complexions and impeccable credentials? Please, no more.