Royal wedding 2018: Media intrusion and the shadow of Diana

Princess Diana and Harry Image copyright PA

There is a terrible shadow hanging over this wedding; the same shadow that hung over Harry for so long; the same shadow that hangs still over the House of Windsor and the writers and photographers who chronicle it.

It is the shadow of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Much has been made of Meghan Markle's ease with the pressures of the modern media.

She is a hugely impressive communicator, in front of the microphones and cameras, and through social media.

She has worked her way up in film and TV to a leading role in a successful show.

Along the way there have been countless interviews, tours and fan conventions.

Image copyright AFP/ Getty images

She will, it is said, be at ease with the day-in, day-out exposure that goes along with being a high profile member of the Royal Family.

That is nonsense.

She was a success in the legal drama Suits and she made a decent name for herself there.

But she was not Hollywood royalty, and she was stalked neither by photographers nor by gossip websites.

She lived in the relative quiet of Toronto, she shopped and ate out where she wanted and when she wanted with little or no disturbance.

No one thought to stake out her father's house in Mexico, no one thought to pay her estranged relatives for interviews, no one made up stories about her childhood neighbourhood.

When she stepped out of her house she didn't face a barrage of long lenses and shouted questions.

She had a pretty normal life and press exposure was controlled, on her terms and those of her publicists.

Prince Harry knew what was coming.

Image copyright PA

Whatever smiles he manages with the press, he remembers the extraordinary attention his late mother Diana received - attention she cultivated as well as suffered from.

Courtiers speak of his abiding distrust of the media.

Previous partners of his recoiled in horror at the exposure that being "Harry's Girl" brought.

Relationships appeared to crumble under the weight of unceasing comment, speculation and intrusion into the lives of friends and family.

Maybe Meghan Markle seemed different. She is strong and independent, like previous partners, like his mother Diana.

But she is also older, more mature, more confident in how she handles herself and what she wants to do with her life.

"I've never wanted to be a lady who lunches," she said, "I've always wanted to be a lady who works". Very different from most royal brides.

Image copyright Getty Images

But as soon as the relationship was public, it was open season on Ms Markle. And on her friends and family

Prince Harry made his anger - fury, by all accounts - clear with a public statement in November 2016 denouncing the intrusion.

His office detailed some of it: "… [Meghan Markle's] mother having to struggle past photographers to get to her front door… the substantial bribes offered to her ex-boyfriend, the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker and loved one in her life".

It made no difference. To newspapers, photographers and websites, everyone connected to her was fair game.

And however strong Ms Markle might be, her relatives were always going to be weaker.

In Westminster Abbey, more than two decades ago, Diana's brother described his sister as the most hunted person of her age.

Now, just days before her wedding, Ms Markle and her relatives hear the hounds at their feet.

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