From the beginning, the viciousness of the British press, tabloid and otherwise, was astounding to me.
In 2017, the Daily Mail, featuring Harry and Meghan’s touching engagement picture on the front page, saw fit to run the headline from their columnist Sarah Vine (wife of the politician Michael Gove, who twice ran unsuccessfully for leader of the Conservative Party): “Yes, they’re joyfully in love. So why do I have a niggling worry about this engagement picture?” (Webster’s defines the word niggling thus: “bothersome or persistent especially in a petty or tiresome way.” Nevertheless, the word seemed a surprising choice and jumped from the page, as presumably it was intended to.)
I’d already had a run-in with the machinery of the British royalty-covering press corps when I was dispatched to Nepal in 1993 to cover a visit of Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, to a series of leprosy missions there for one of my first Vogue assignments. Patrick Jephson, the princess’s appropriately courtly private secretary, had practically begged us not to go, explaining that with the pool system (whereby one or two photographers or journalists would be picked to accompany the princess on some of her visits and would subsequently pool their images or writing with everyone else) we would never have access to the princess. Anna was hearing none of it, so off I was sent into the lion’s den.
I arrived in the Vogue-branded cap that, to my deep mortification, Anna had…