I'm not going to lie: I had a moment over Harry and Meghan leaving. Like, a real moment, with tears and snot and running mascara. And it's embarrassing, because I don't even really know them that well. OK, I know them better than most, but only really then in a teeny, tiny professional way, a texting every now and then and "hey, how are the kids?" way. I don't cry when colleagues who become friends depart for new companies, or when they leave for foreign shores.
But with Harry and Meghan, I was genuinely upset. I mean, the whole works. And I reckon there are plenty of people who have never met the pair who feel as if they have, people who are as sad as I am to see that they have left the UK and, as of Tuesday, will formally step away from their lives as working royals.
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It's funny, isn't it, how some celebrities and high-profile people have a way of making you feel you know them without having ever come within five miles of them? Like most people, I felt shocked and anxious when I heard that Tom Hanks had been diagnosed with Covid-19, before remembering that I have absolutely no personal connection to him whatsoever and that it would be ridiculous (not to mention emotionally exhausting) to feel upset about everyone who exhibits even mild symptoms of the virus. Still, I found myself thinking about him and his wife Rita Wilson as if they were the couple who lived next door, and not huge movie stars.
Some celebrities, like Madonna and Beyoncé, feel untouchable. Their pure star power bestows upon them something intimidating, something that would make you wobble in their presence, and become a gibbering wreck. Other celebrities are loved precisely because of how normal they make us feel – they have that down-to-earth human touch that somehow makes their magic ours, too. Tom Hanks. Jennifer Aniston. And Harry and Meghan, obviously. They have an ability to connect in a way that is rare for people so… well, rarified.
Harry has always had that rule-breaking thing about him – the party prince who became the first royal to break with stiff-upper-lip tradition and talk about his mental health. It wasn't a surprise that he fell in love with a woman as passionate and spirited as Meghan, a woman who had a history of activism long before she ever met our prince.
And so perhaps it shouldn't have even been that big a surprise when Harry decided to break yet more rules and up sticks to Canada. Perhaps we should have seen it coming. Still, just as we felt so happy for them on their wedding day less than two years ago – throwing street parties, cooing as they stood on the steps of St George's Chapel and kissed – their pain now also feels somehow personal. It feels as if we have let them and their little family down. Our loss is the rest of the world's gain, but please know this Harry and Meghan (or H&M, as I'm sure you also refer to them): we will miss you now you have gone.