Do you think Meghan Markle cares? About any of it?
The gossip, the denigrating op-eds, the social media trolls, the royal watchers saying she's doing it wrong—do you think she's losing sleep?
Well, the Duchess of Sussex may be up for much of the night, but that's only because she's got a 3-month-old baby at home, and Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor has no idea that his personal chef and human cradle is the subject of so much controversy.
Truth be told, the scandalous narratives don't need Meghan to do anything to survive on their own, independent from her like an airborne virus. So it's best that she continue on as she's been doing: being a mom, meeting Beyoncé, interviewing Michelle Obama, designing a clothing collection for a good cause and letting this glorious life she's carved out for herself unfold.
That at least seems to be her plan.
While the palace is neither confirming nor denying, according to the Sun on Sunday, Meghan is spending her 38th birthday weekend with Prince Harry and Archie at Balmoral, Queen Elizabeth II's home in Scotland, where the queen and Prince Philip will host a tea for their grandson's wife.
"It is testament to Meghan that she has been given this invite. It's a huge honor," a source told the paper. "They will celebrate Meghan's birthday, and the catering team will bake a cake to mark the occasion."
"It's no secret Balmoral is Her Majesty's favorite home and that's why this invite is so special and heartfelt," the insider added.
Privacy and low-key celebrations tend to be the name of the game for most royal occasions, unless someone is getting married, and you can bet that anything unfolding at Balmoral will be for the family and assorted VIPs to enjoy alone.
The theme will hold even if Harry and Meghan end up, as Hello! is predicting, spending the duchess' birthday Sunday at their home in Windsor.
This past week Harry was reportedly in Sicily for what turned into a—what else—controversial appearance at Google Camp, an annual summit where this year some powerful and deep-pocketed people gathered to discuss climate change. Giving a talk about global warming while barefoot sounds like a positive contribution to the discourse, but Harry and other well-heeled attendees were lambasted by some press for reaching the summit via private jets and yachts (or a jet and helicopter, in Harry's case).
The Daily Mail was quick to note that the transport (provided by Google, in Harry's case) was seemingly at odds with the mission at hand.
And then the Duke of Sussex was promptly criticized for telling British Vogue (after Meghan was already criticized for taking time to guest-edit their September issue rather than do whatever else her critics thought she should be doing, like meeting President Trump at Buckingham Palace) that they planned to have only two children for sustainability's sake.
"Two maximum!" he promised primatologist Jane Goodall in a chat for the magazine, in which he acknowledged that his thoughts on family planning had changed over the years, as he became more aware of the planet's dire plight and then more so when he became a father.
"I think, weirdly, because of the people that I've met and the places that I've been fortunate enough to go to, I've always had a connection and a love for nature," Harry said. "I view it differently now, without question. But I've always wanted to try and ensure that, even before having a child and hoping to have children…"
"Not too many!" Goodall interjected. (She has one.)
He volunteered the number two, then continued, "But I've always thought: this place is borrowed. And, surely, being as intelligent as we all are, or as evolved as we all are supposed to be, we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation."
What the next generation is going to be left with, without a doubt, is a slew of judgmental articles about their parents.
John Vidal, former environmental editor of The Guardian, wrote in an op-ed this past week, "To make any difference to planet Earth, you and your family really must stop taking those private jets to Jamaica, the luxury safaris in Botswana, the weddings in Montego Bay, the impromptu winter getaways in Tromsø, the 'babymoons' in Australia and New York, the downtime on Mediterranean islands and the quick flights to Fiji. Not to mention the ecological cost of living in all those grand houses and palaces or going on the royal tours."
At the same time he gave kudos to Harry for addressing the link between population growth and the strain on our natural resources.
While his was a much more reasoned piece of criticism than an indignant screed about being asked to not take Meghan's picture at Wimbledon (which, according to palace sources, was not a request that came from the duchess herself, but rather from her ever-vigilant security), it's still the latest in a spate of dressing-downs the royals have been receiving lately over their extravagant ways.
Harry must be just as excited to hunker down at Frogmore Cottage, or Balmoral, for the weekend as Meghan is.
"The Sussexes have been so busy this year that I can imagine her birthday will simply involve a well-deserved day of rest with a few friends—and, of course, precious moments with Archie," royal commentator Omid Scobie told Katie Couric for her Wakeup Call newsletter.
But though for every spoonful of sugar there's a shot of vinegar, Harry and Meghan in actuality have never been better.
They're new parents, they're planning a three-country tour of Africa and at least the previous prevailing narrative—that Harry was pointedly distancing himself from Prince William and half of the royals could only see Meghan through side-eye—seems to be dying down in favor of a friendlier family scene.
A royal source told People recently that Meghan's relationship with Kate Middleton showed signs of "strengthening" since Archie had been born.
"They're each a little more relaxed," the insider said. "They have more in common now."
Kate and Meghan looked happy together watching the ladies' singles final at Wimbledon last month (it was Meghan's excursion there the prior week with friends that raised some hackles) and their ever-scrutinized body language was declared warm and supportive.
Alas, now it's Meghan and Harry's wish for an extra degree of privacy (not disclosing the identities of Archie's godparents, etc.) that isn't sitting well with some royal watchers, but they're hardly in hiding. After the private christening for Archie, Meghan and Kate brought their kids to a charity polo match Harry and William were playing in, and Meghan and Harry made a splash at the London premiere of The Lion King.
Overall, aside from withholding a few choice details, they really aren't conducting themselves all that differently from Kate and William. And we've all got their tour of Malawi, Angola and Botswana to look forward to—photos and fashion galore.
According to the Daily Mail, Pharrell Williams applauded Meghan and Harry's relationship at The Lion King premiere, telling the duchess he thought their culture-blending union was especially "significant in today's climate."
And he didn't mean the climate that's getting steadily warmer.
"Thank you," Meghan reportedly replied. "They don't make it easy."
That they don't.
But every time it has seemed as if that comment, or that breach of royal protocol, or that new tell-all is going to be the one that sends Meghan and Harry packing for an island built for two and a half, something like Meghan's Vogue project, or news that she'll be designing a clothing line for charity, rolls out.
Then Harry and Meghan show up at an event together, looking polished and cheery and doing everything they need to be doing to satisfy the moment.
They're both viscerally aware that with their odd jobs comes an odd list of responsibilities, including the requirement they always remain somewhat public—that they get married on TV as if they met on The Bachelor, that the world receive an allotment of their son's baby pictures, etc.
But you realize, every time you read about what they did wrong and then see them out in the open doing things, that, for all the online harassment they've received and will continue to receive, they've got lives to attend to.
And when part of life is Beyoncé telling you how beautiful your son is, that's a sign life is going along OK.