Meghan Markle: 40×40 project 'patronising' says Neesom
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Jonathan Sacerdoti suggested the brief clip – during which the Duchess of Sussex unveiled her 40×40 mentoring initiative – highlighted “the divide between what Meghan and Harry say and what Meghan and Harry do”. During the video, the former Suits actress is shown chatting with US comedy actress Melissa McCarthy about the ambitious project.
Bizarrely, at one point Harry is shown to be juggling outside the window behind Meghan, performing a role which Mr Sacerdoti, a regular commentator on Sky News as well as a contributor to The Spectator has compared to that of a ”court jester”.
He told Express.co.uk: “The video made no effort to disguise the luxurious surroundings that Meghan was in.
“Everything was colour coordinated within an inch of its life, from the white table to the beige rug to even her clothes matching the same colour palette.
“Which is fine, I suppose, but it’s not necessarily on message with helping those in need.”
Mr Sacerdoti highlighted the palatial surroundings in which the video was shot, namely the nine-bed, £11million California mansion in which the couple now lives.
He said: “She was surrounded by not just expensive things but literally marks of super-luxury wealth, from the throw over one of the chairs to the two necklaces she was wearing one for each of her children’s star signs, to the giant crystal on her desk, to the desk itself.
“None of these things looked modest, or down to Earth – they look like the trappings of celebrity couple living the high life in an expensive mansion in an expensive part of the world.”
All of which was fine if that was the life they wanted to lead, Mr Sacerdoti emphasised.
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However, he added: “It seems a little strange to be sitting in that sort of ivory coloured tower, let’s say, preaching to everybody else that they should be giving up 40 minutes of their time to help those in need.
“I don’t think that it was the best messaging for what was a worthy cause.”
The trappings of wealth highlighted a contradiction between the couple’s stated priorities and the reality of their situation, Mr Sacerdoti suggested.
He explained: “I think there’s a divide between what Meghan and Harry say what Meghan and Harry, do especially when it comes to that word compassion that they appear to use constantly, both in their written statements and on their website, and elsewhere.
“I think that they’ve probably honed in on that word on the advice of some sort of consultant or brand reputation protection expert because probably it’s the thing that they think will resonate most with the general public, that they have compassion, with other people.
“But I think that when you’re in a position of immense luxury and wealth and privilege, it’s probably very difficult to portray an image of compassion for others.
“That would explain I suppose why they keep trying so hard to do so. I’m not sure if I would have chosen that particular format for trying to portray an image of compassion – it didn’t seem very connected to most people’s lives.
“And I think that it puts across a haughty message of superiority, rather than one of real compassion.”
There is danger that they’re going to constantly come across as a bit out of touch
As a result, the overall impression was one of somebody “deigning to help the lesser people in life”, he said.
He added: “I think that had a sense of being quite patronising.
“Whether or not it was it was meant to be, I think there is danger that they’re going to constantly come across as a bit out of touch with people they profess to want to help.”
Explaining the idea in a statement posted on the couple’s Archewell website, Meghan said: “I believe mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength, and for my birthday, I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to help kickoff a global effort by contributing 40 MINUTES OF MENTORSHIP to support women re-entering the workforce.
“With this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms, and, I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well.”
The message was backed by high profile figures including Hillary Clinton and Princess Eugenie.
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