THE close relationship between the BBC and the royal family’s fundaments could be observed in queasy technicolour at the start of the week. Thus, the public service broadcaster led with an item about how two young millionaire royals were “struggling” to deal with media scrutiny of their lives. “Can you not just give us that large cheque at the start of the year and then leave us alone to spend it,” Prince Harry seemed to be asking. “I can’t understand why your newspapers would write gossip about us,” his wife Meghan Markle effectively said as she strolled in the grounds of the £2 million property provided for her by British taxpayers. And for a few days the BBC relegated the most important political event of our generation to second slot behind the young couple’s anguished pleas.

READ MORE: Meghan Markle: Past year as a royal has been ‘hard’

It was a shocking revelation and one which is sure to spark a national debate. Why did we not foresee the stark consequences of giving this callow pair millions of pounds of free money every year for the rest of their lives? The warning signs were there if only we’d opened our eyes and heeded them.

There was that time a few years back when Harry bade a tearful farewell to his Army comrades at the end of their tour of duty in Iraq. We can only imagine his agony at being unable to enjoy comradely drinking sessions with them in a Birmingham working men’s club. Instead, he was forced to seek solace in an infinity pool with beautiful young women who were complete strangers to him on the roof terrace of one of New York’s finest hotels. How could these spoilt young heiresses have known anything about the torments of being forced to miss out on Boddingtons and the Bullseye Roadshow with his mates?

And how could we not have known the torment of being forced to give neighbours on the young couple’s Cotswolds estate notices telling them to keep their distance? There you are fretting about which of granny’s Gainsboroughs to hang in the library when Annabel and Tristram from next door arrive unannounced with a plate of home-made apple pie. And this at a time when Meghan was recovering from the stress of facing down grandmamma over her favoured birth plan. Such is life in the latest series of “I’m A Royal ... Get Me Out Of Here”.

Prince Harry, it seems, still harbours deep resentment at the role English tabloids played in the tragic death of his mum, Princess Diana. Presumably, he’s already had words with his dad about his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles while she was married to one of his chums. And he and his brother William certainly must have asked which of their grandfather’s royal flunkeys kept feeding the newspapers titbits about their mum’s private life.

A very simple social contract exists between Britain’s royal family and the tabloids which they accuse of making their lives intolerable. The red-tops are fervent supporters of the royal family and each week participate in the pretence that they actually justify their millionaire lifestyles with hard graft. If these papers were to withdraw their support the entire royal circus would fold. In return, they seek only to print speculation and gossip about the frivolous activities of an otherwise unremarkable and dull family. It’s not a bad deal whichever way you look at it.

READ MORE: The Windsors are nothing more than gangsters with unearned privilege

The UK media also chooses to refrain from asking too many questions about the Windsors’ war record and how close some of them were to the Third Reich. And all the while, doing their bit to keep the show on the road, is the BBC, who spend fortunes every year keeping us constantly updated with Harry and William’s private jet trips to talk about climate change in sub-Saharan Africa.

The National:

Harry and Meghan’s weekend interview with ITV came at a judicious time for their wider family. The following night, Channel 4’s Dispatches programme carried a documentary entitled The Prince And The Paedophile. In this, a young American woman called Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged that Prince Andrew was involved in an orgy featuring his close friend, the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and nine women. The prince denies ever having had any intimate relations with Giuffre and insists he did not participate in any criminal activity in the presence of Epstein. The allegations, though, are not going away. Unlike those, however, questions about the suicide in police custody of Epstein did go away, and rather quickly at that. Harry’s uncle Andy must be presumed innocent, of course, until proved otherwise.

In the meantime, with the help of the UK tabloids, the BBC, the Foreign Office and the Trump administration, questions about Epstein’s suicide and what secrets he took with him to the grave will probably never be asked. All of this too is part of the deal. The US government and the UK police between them contrived to have the wife of a junior US “diplomat” involved in the tragic and accidental death of a young UK citizen safely spirited out of the country before informing the mourning family. At this level, anything inconvenient can be made to disappear.

Perhaps Prince William, who is reportedly “concerned” about his brother, might have sought quickly to contact him. It’s not unreasonable to infer a degree of exasperation from his use of the word “concerned”. The next conversation between them will have featured the words “mouth”, “look” and “gift horse” in close proximity, with a couple of profanities deployed too.

Other events happened in the UK last week which wrought devastation in the families of those directly affected.

Two youths were stabbed to death in a house party in London, bringing the number of such fatalities in England’s capital in 2019 to around 10 every month. Earlier this year it was revealed that more than 90 UK citizens a month die after being declared fit for work by the DWP. In Scotland, a joint investigation by The Ferret and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism last year found that around 95 homeless people had died on our streets in

the previous 12 months. All of them could have been provided with food and shelter for an entire year in the assorted outhouses attached to Prince Harry’s granny’s five royal palaces.

Anyone can have problems, though, and I suppose dealing with a bit of press intrusion into your gilded lifestyle brings its own challenges.