IT must be the tosspot media circles I move in, but not a single selection box was proffered, not one. It was Netflix’s flagship documentary on Harry and Meghan rather than a Rowntree’s special that dominated my holiday season.

Despite my grumpy republicanism, I found myself drawn into the arguments about the estranged royal couple – who was right, who was wrong and who was the Buckingham Palace racist leaking stories to the tabloids?

Most of the arguments centred around Meghan and whether she was an ­attention seeker who had brought notoriety on ­herself or whether she was the victim of a vile household of social misfits. I lean to the latter.

Although the Netflix exclusive has been around for a few weeks now, the debate has been reignited by Harry’s new book and by Jeremy Clarkson’s column in which he said: “At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she [Meghan] is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”

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The missing piece of the jigsaw was that Camilla Parker Bowles, the King’s ­consort and discount queen had held an ­expensive Christmas lunch with ­attendees including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, and Claudia ­Winkleman. Prominent among the gathering was Clarkson and his brother-in-smugness, Piers Morgan.

Many jumped to the easy conclusion that the torn-faced Camilla had briefed against Meghan at the lunch and that the royal foie gras had been garnished by her bile.

It was not an entirely outrageous leap of connections – the Netflix ­documentary had consistently told of bad faith at ­Buckingham Palace, and a string of leaks that delivered Meghan’s private life to the British press.

Then the story took a further twist when Harry’s forthcoming book Spare, leaked by Spanish booksellers, claimed that he had been physically attacked by his older brother. The title of the book is ­brilliantly provocative, Harry ­alleges that his own father greeted his birth with the words: “Now I have two sons, an heir and a spare.”

Amidst all of this family rage, one line from the Netflix show stood out above all others and it had nothing directly to do with Meghan Markle.

On the announcement of the birth of Meghan’s first son Archie, in an act of overblown curtseying, Netflix narrated the child’s full double-barrelled name – Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (down).

The National: Lord Louis Mountbatten pictured in the palm garden. Photo: David White.

Lord knows what contortions of ­royal protocol led to the poor child ­being ­burdened with this name, but young ­Archie is now sixth in line to the throne. Whilst battles raged within the House of Windsor about what colour he would be at birth, it was abundantly clear he would not be a Catholic.

Surely, the smart courtiers at ­Buckingham Place know the murky ­associations that surround ­Mountbatten, who the clunky and semi-detached King Charles still insists on calling his ­favourite relative “Uncle Dickie”?

They may as well have chucked ­Jimmy Savile’s name into the mix for good ­measure.

LOUIS Mountbatten, First Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was assassinated on August 27, 1979 by Thomas McMahon, an Irish republican bomb-maker of the South Armagh Brigade of the IRA. McMahon placed a bomb on Mountbatten’s boat while it was harboured overnight in Mullaghmore Peninsula in County Sligo. It was detonated several hours later, offshore.

The manner of Mountbatten’s death may have given him unimpeachable ­status in death, obscuring his profound failures as a military leader in India, but his ­incriminating private life has now soured his reputation.

Throughout Mountbatten’s life, and in the years after he died rumours swirled about his extramarital affairs. An FBI dossier on Mountbatten, released in 2019, thanks to a Freedom of Information ­request, revealed that he was a known paedophile.

The British press, loyal to the Palace and vice-versa, shied away from the story and only the doggedly anti-establishment Private Eye persisted as part of their lengthy investigation into child abuse at the infamous Kincora Boys’ School in East Belfast.

Only recently, in the immediate aftermath of the Queen’s funeral, one of the victims, Arthur Smyth has initiated legal proceedings against a number of institutions in Northern Ireland alleging that Mountbatten (right) abused at least one boy at the children’s home in the 1970s.

Several books have followed up on the rumours of Mountbatten’s paedophilia but it is a story rarely pursued in any depth in the normally excitable British press.

Despite the strange name bestowed on their son Harry and Meghan have ­consistently spoken of the impenetrable pact between the House of Windsor and Fleet Street, which works through the dark arts of royal leaks, choreographed access and confected stories.

Both sides – the Palace and the press – seem unusually loyal to each other and have almost certainly conspired to ­demonise Meghan Markle and force ­Harry away from the royal household.

What does all of this say about Scotland – if anything?

One thing we do know was that the mood music back in 2014 was that a ­referendum was fought and lost on an ­independence manifesto that took a ­largely cautionary approach to royalty and the head of state.

The thinking was clear at the time but less clear now. There was a widely held ­belief that Queen Elizabeth should ­continue her titular role as Head of State, in part to placate older voters who had grown up settled with the idea of a ­hereditary monarchy.

I could not bring myself to agree at the time but saw it as a compromise worth making to deliver independence. Much has changed in the meantime. The Queen is dead, her second son has been ­accused of underage sex, in a scandal that ­stretches to New York and a billionaire’s private island. And the Queen’s young royals, once paraded as the future of the “Firm” are now at war with each other.

Meanwhile, her son and heir, King Charles, tone-deaf as ever, is planning a full royal coronation despite a ­horrendous cost of living crisis and his ­reputation for concern about over-consumption and wastefulness.

It is not yet clear what the national mood in Scotland will be during and around Charles’s coronation. Recent state events of this kind have been much more muted here than in the south of England.

READ MORE: Harry's revelations have 'shattered' myth of monarchy, say Republic

I could be persuaded yet again to go canny and accept the cautious route to independence but this time I would want much more sophisticated data and ­analysis of what the majority of Scots think about the royal family and the Act of Succession.

RESPECT for the dead queen is fading into the past, and the generation that grew up in her reign are dying too. There is no clear evidence that any of her children are capable of uniting the kingdom and even those inclined to royalty are sceptical of the Charles and Camilla combo.

Much remains unresolved too. ­Public attitudes among older voters are not ­nearly as predictable as they once were. Those that have seen the calamitous ­failure of consecutive Tory governments may no longer buy into the idea that London can run the economy. Many more will not accord the current royal circus the same dignity as the previous generation either.

The days of deference are in their last pathetic spasms, surely that is ­ obvious now.