When I first heard the word "woke" it made me want to "boke", which is Scottish slang for vomit, of course. My objections to the term - which means to be alert to social injustice - were purely grammatical (what, exactly, is so wrong with being awake?).
But as I've watched the word be spat out of sneering mouths as a way to deride someone who cares about things that the sneerer doesn't, I've come to feel strangely protective towards it - affectionate, even. Is being "woke" really the worst thing in the world, when the world is in part run by a man who thinks it's perfectly okay to grab ladies by their genitals or tell women of colour to "go back to where you came from"?
Forgive me for bringing up the genital grabbing again and again and again, but when I was growing up, groping a woman without her consent was considered kind of normal - it wasn't particularly nice, and I don't want it for my daughter.
So I can't even begin to imagine the blind fury that must be felt by women of colour who have spent their lives trying to navigate through a society that is systemically racist (no, you might not be racist, but - just this once! - this isn't actually about you. I know, I know, it can come as something of a shock, right?). But look, let's just move on, shall we? Let's just let it go! It isn't important to some people, so it shouldn't be important to us!
Instead, why don't we have a meltdown about the really important thing that has happened this week, namely, that a young woman has used her position in the Royal family to promote body positivity advocates, mental health campaigners and climate change activists. I mean, priorities, people, priorities!
The Duchess of Sussex has been acting all "woke" - she is, apparently, the "princess of wokeness" - and wants to talk about racism and sexism and all those other isms out there that make the world a miserable and unforgiving place? SEND HER TO THE TOWER!
As ever, there is a whole universe of terror out there: towns being evacuated, missiles being launched, tankers being seized, countries splitting down the middle. But the thing we must focus on is the first mixed-race member of the Royal family choosing to guest-edit Vogue instead of appearing on its cover. This is problematic, apparently, because royals, or at least female ones, are not supposed to express opinions (it's fine when Prince Charles does it, though). They have an "obligation to remain above the political sphere". The Duchess of Sussex, of course, has not actually used the September issue of Vogue to call for a general election or to say that she thinks Donald Trump is a nasty little man with an attitude problem. She's just used it to republish a piece of writing by the author Matt Haig that encourages women (and men) to be comfortable in their own skin; she's just used it to big up women like Sinead Burke, a disability-rights activist, and Greta Thunberg, who would like to keep the planet safe for us all.
So, in short, these political opinions that Meghan seems to be expressing are: "Be kind, help people less fortunate than you, try and do the right thing, and by the way: you're lovely just as you are." ORF WITH HER HEAD!
I feel that the hysterical reaction to the Duchess says more about us than it does about her - and that actually, most of "us" are quite happy to be represented by a royal who hangs out with activists and campaigners, instead of, say, Jeffrey Epstein. Does anyone really care that we don't know who baby Archie's godparents are? Does this lack of information really affect our lives, and must we take it as some personal slight? Or is it just a couple of parents keeping their child to themselves before he has learnt to walk, talk and realise that he is going to spend the rest of his life being publicly scrutinised?
"BUT IT'S THE PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER!" wail some. Well, principles are all well and good, until of course they are not. As John Maynard Keynes once said: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
Meghan is not the first member of the Royal family to try to modernise the monarchy - if she was, she'd never have been allowed to marry her beloved at all - and thanks to her and Harry, she will not be the last. Love them or loathe them, the Royal family are well worth the £1.24 ($2.30) we each pay every year, given the amount of money they bring back into the country, be it through tourism or media revenues from the stories they provide us journalists as a distraction from miserable subjects such as Brexit. And that's not to mention the huge amount of attention they are able to draw to the charitable initiatives they get behind.
I saw first-hand what the Heads Together campaign in 2017 meant to the mental health organisations it supported, and the spotlight that Meghan has shone on Smart Works will genuinely help to transform the lives of the vulnerable young women it so superbly supports.
Like it or not, only someone with the star power of the Duchess could persuade huge organisations like M&S to give away, for free, 50 per cent of one of its collections, as was announced this week, in a collaboration for Smart Works that also includes John Lewis and Jigsaw.
In return for the small amount we each pay, we expect the Royal family to be perfect. We want them to be real but regal, human but hushed. It's an impossible task and I am full of admiration for anyone who takes it on. I think if the worst thing you can say about a representative of our elite is that they are "woke" to social injustice, then that's cool with me. I'd much rather Britain had a reputation for being woke than mean.
- The Daily Telegraph