Intense U.K. media scrutiny of Markle baffles Canadians watching it unfold

The criticism of Meghan Markle’s extended family has left a sour taste for many Canadian tourists

Intense media scrutiny of Meghan Markle’s extended family has left a sour taste for many Canadian tourists and expats observing wall-to-wall coverage of the impending royal wedding.

The voracious appetite for tidbits on the upcoming nuptials came as a shock to British Columbia tourists Karen and Bill Chandler, who say they were blindsided by reporters during a tour of Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

Rather than recounting the grand splendour of the historic home to more than 900 years of royals, the couple’s biggest memory was of journalists and camera crews preparing to cover Saturday’s nuptials.

“It’s crazy up there, it’s just crazy,” Bill Chandler exclaimed Thursday after visiting the historic town where Prince Harry will wed Markle, about an hour and a half from London by car.

“They’re right in your face.”

The retirees didn’t expect their weeklong whirlwind through London to include a glimpse into the media circus surrounding the much-hyped union of Prince Harry and his California fiancee, but it’s a unique memory they will take back with them to Victoria on Sunday.

It’s certainly given Karen Chandler a much more sombre view of what could be in store for Markle once she officially joins the royal family.

“Just wandering through the castle I was thinking about how the press had affected Diana’s life — they ruined it,” she says.

“Just the hounding. (But) I believe she probably is better equipped than Diana was, much better equipped.”

A palpable backlash against unflattering stories about Markle’s family history — and in particular her 73-year-old father Thomas Markle — appeared to take root Thursday as the bride announced he will not walk her down the aisle as planned.

“I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” Markle said in a statement released by Kensington Palace.

The elder Markle is said to be recovering from an operation to clear blocked arteries after suffering a heart attack last week.

It was the latest turn in a gossip-fuelled saga that turned sadly dark in recent days. Of late, Thomas Markle has been mired in scandal over photographs of wedding preparations that were reportedly staged.

At least one outlet appeared to step back from mining estranged family members for dirt Thursday, with “Good Morning Britain” reportedly dropping Markle’s sister-in-law Tracy Dooley from their wedding coverage.

The morning TV show was widely reported to have hired Dooley and her kids as TV correspondents for its rolling coverage of the ceremony, despite the fact they were not invited and were believed to have had little contact, if at all, with Markle.

And on Tuesday, the same TV show featured a blistering attack on half-sister Samantha Markle, when Piers Morgan accused Markle’s half-sister of being a media “vulture.”

History student Clarissa Fehr of Leamington, Ont., says she’s been turned off by relentless gossip coverage of the “Suits” actress — a successful biracial, divorced American who is challenging royal traditions on many levels.

“A lot of it just terrorizes her character,” the 22-year-old exchange student says of the coverage she’s observed.

“It’s all about her history and what she did to be successful, but then in reality it’s kind of what everyone has to do to be successful.”“

Fellow exchange student Lauren Johnston agreed, also invoking the tragic death of the late Princess of Wales, who died in a Paris car crash in August 1997.

“I feel like the Meghan situation can turn into a Diana situation,” says the 19-year-old Johnston, studying media and communications on an exchange with her school in Abbotsford, B.C.

“We saw what Princess Diana had to go through back when she got married and all the health problems that she had, which is unfortunate.”

Canadian-born academic Susan Rudy points to a seeming preoccupation with socio-economic class in the British media, detecting an underlying narrative in which Markle is cast as a woman escaping a dark history.

“It’s a sad story and she’s ‘escaped’ that, that’s part of the class story — that if you escape that, that’s to be applauded, instead of: What would you lose if you lose contact with a particular group like a class-based group?” says the London, Ont.-born Rudy, who moved to London in 2011.

However, not all British media is like that, she’s quick to add.

“The thing I like about Britain is that there’s an educated press here — the Guardian, particularly, a person can count on for actual information and facts,” says Rudy, a senior research fellow in the English department at Queen Mary University of London

Still, there appears to be ravenous demand for salacious stories, notes Johnston, an aspiring journalist.

“I’ve looked online at job opportunities here versus Vancouver … and print journalism and newspapers here are really prominent, which I think differs from Canada, as well,” she says.

“They’re printing newspapers every day so they just need content constantly.”

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Two years jail for Chilliwack man caught with six handguns threaded for silencers

Judge rules guns found by Conservation Officer search were to be distributed for a criminal purpose

Wide variety of art for sale at Art from the Heart show

Student art show runs Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Murder victim Jagvir Malhi was not involved in gangs, says IHIT

Investigators say Abbotsford man was ‘associated to those involved’ in conflict

Blues group Angel Forrest Trio at Bozzini’s in Chilliwack

Award-winning band from Quebec performs Nov. 28

Chilliwack Curling Club moves into new building

After 54 years next door, the Chilliwack Curling Club takes over a 30,000 square foot facility.

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read