Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, introduced their new royal nugget, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, to the world on Wednesday—a joyous occasion! Warm fuzzies all around! And yet some British knickers are still in a twist for a reason most people would never notice, much less care about: which media outlets were physically present at Baby Sussex’s rather picturesque reveal on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Specifically at issue: that a (gasp!) American news outlet, CBS, the same where Meghan’s friend Gayle King is a lead anchor on CBS This Morning, won a coveted spot in the press “pool,” the gaggle of journalists on the ground that shares images, video, and information with the media at large.
“Choosing a U.S. Network, fiend (sic) or not, is treading on dodgy ground,” Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, tweeted on Wednesday morning. “The British press are reportedly furious while the royal household view the decision as ‘slap in the face’ to Commonwealth broadcasters such as, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia,” the Daily Express lamented.
Indeed, how dare an American news outlet cover an American duchess’s royal baby—a baby who is poised to be a dual British-American citizen himself? Insert many eye rolls here.
The allegation is that Meghan and Harry personally picked King—who attended both their royal wedding and Meghan’s New York baby shower, and who reportedly paid the couple a personal visit at Frogmore House over the weekend—to join Britain’s Sky as one of the two TV outlets filming at Baby Sussex’s debut. Never mind that, according to the Daily Mail, the Sussexes denied that claim through a spokesperson, and British network ITV, which reliably covers the royals, likewise reports there was no vast American conspiracy behind the coverage.
“I am told the U.S. camera was—like the U.K. broadcasters—chosen at random,” ITV’s royal editor Chris Ship wrote on Wednesday. “As CBS took the call from the Palace, some suspect the channel selected itself for the pool, but I’m told the other main U.S. networks—NBC and ABC—were contacted.” (King herself was not present.)
This is a pretty inside-baseball squabble, as, again, those chosen to physically film Archie’s reveal—CBS and Sky—then shared it widely with the rest of the media, making the privilege of being the designated “pool” broadcaster pretty ceremonial. But it’s sadly typical for some stodgy members of the British pundit class, which have spewed racist and sexist vitriol at Meghan since her arrival on the royal scene. Yes, even today, when Meghan is a mere 48 hours postpartum, wearing pantyhose and heels and serving up her new son as unofficial royal rule seems to dictate, there will be sniping and speculation as to her character and intentions. For fun, I Googled the precise definition of Arbiter’s word, dodgy, and found it means “dishonest, unreliable and/or deceitful.” Although, it’s essential to consider the source: Arbiter is the same man who once advised Meghan to stop “trying to be clever” and recognize that “she plays a supporting role, not just to Harry but to the Queen as well.” Do tell us more, advocate for Leave It to Beaver–style marriage.
According to Vanity Fair, a palace spokesperson said the decision to include CBS “reflects the international interest in the story.” And it also reflects the international identity of the Sussexes themselves, including first royal baby in recent history to have a biracial American mother. Americans—and the American media—have long lovingly covered the British royal babies, and gleefully boosted the British tourism and merchandise economy, you’re welcome. But this time it’s different; decidedly more official.
Some may see including America’s CBS at the reveal as a “slap in the face,” but perhaps it’s just a friendly reminder of the obvious. Meghan is American, and Archie is at least part American, too. How this will factor into their royal lives remains to be seen. I doubt Meghan and Archie will be chanting “USA“ or setting off Fourth of July fireworks on palace grounds, but the presence of an American news outlet in the press pool shouldn’t be so galling. And the fact that the reveal coincided with the airing of American morning shows might be telling. Whether traditionalists like it or not, the joy, excitement—and, yes, the media coverage—surrounding the new royal baby’s arrival doesn’t just belong to Brits, but to Americans, too.