Harry and Meghan epitomise the true Covid Divide

A few words would have killed the Duchess’s violin solo dead. Adele was, in fact,

A few words would have killed the Duchess’s violin solo dead. Adele was, in fact, the most trolled person of 2019 (weight loss), with reality star Gemma Collins (fatness, bad make-up) in second place. But the only words worth hearing were hers. “Now, for eight months of that, I wasn’t even visible,” Meghan went on and, again, one imagines the teens watching their precious time draining away, all those notes made on the key issues to highlight during the podcast – the epidemic of depression and suicide among teens – wasted.

“I was on maternity leave or with a baby. But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out… That’s so big, you can’t even think about what that feels like,” Meghan insisted, despite apparently having devoted a great deal of time to thinking about what that felt like for her.

“Because I don’t care if you’re 15 or 25” – that much was obvious – “if people are saying things about you that aren’t true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging… it’s almost unsurvivable.”

Somehow, Meghan seems to have struggled valiantly on in her and Harry’s £11 million Santa Barbara mansion, a tidy £112 million Netflix deal under her Givenchy belt. Although some might question the “emotional health” of a woman who saw fit, the very next day, to stress how much “really good family time” she, Harry and their son Archie enjoyed during lockdown. In a YouTube discussion to mark the International Day of the Girl on Sunday, Markle marvelled at “having this time” to watch their son grow.

“In the absence of Covid, we would be travelling and working more externally and we would miss a lot of those moments.” Which was heart-warming stuff and, despite a last-minute save from Harry – who was left to point out that, “at the same time… we completely understand and get how challenging this is for absolutely everyone” – makes one question whether there is a degree of deafness beyond tone-deafness. A cursory Google search on this brings up something called “Disconnection Syndrome”, which seems apt, encompassing as it does the “perceptual deficits” that can accompany “auditory incapacity” in cases of extreme deafness.

Because the Covid Divide isn’t just geographical and sociological but mental – with the Sussexes epitomising the lack of sensitivity the pandemic has shown up in some with regard to the less fortunate.

Not only will Markle’s own in-laws be unable to enjoy “really good family time” for some months, holed up as the Queen and Prince Philip are in their ‘HMS Bubble’, but thousands of ordinary people will also have been devastated by Covid in a similar way, and with no silver lining to be found.

One would hope that most of us are aware of this divide. It’s the reason I didn’t regale my neighbour – whose lungs are still devastated by a month-long battle with the virus in March – with anecdotes of the glorious mummy-and-me time I spent with my daughter during lockdown. It’s the reason I didn’t send my parents, who have been in semi-isolation since late February, photographs of the trip to France we were lucky enough to have managed in August. It’s also the reason I baulk at the people who persist even now in pushing the “it’s all a giant over-reaction” narrative, and don’t bother lowering their voices to say: “It’s not like you and I even know anyone who got Covid, is it?”

The pandemic has divided us emotionally, physically, financially and politically. And given how different all of our experiences have been over the past six months, it’s easy to slip up and be insensitive. But for celebrity figures like Meghan and Harry, who live in a bubble at the best of times, those risks are twofold. So if they are going to weigh in, it needs to be done cautiously, altruistically – and with empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Meghan would do well to look it up.

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