Is Prince George a petty, Machiavellian schemer? Does the 4-year-old son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge despise his soon-to-be aunt, Meghan Markle? Is the prince plotting a dastardly surprise for the May 19 royal wedding of Markle and Prince Harry?
To followers of Gary Janetti’s Instagram account, the answers are yes, yes and quite possibly.
Last year Janetti, a TV writer in Los Angeles whose credits include Will & Grace and Family Guy, began posting photos of George and other members of the British royal family with made-up captions.
In Janetti’s hands, George is a jealous, insecure tyrant with a cruel hatred for anyone who upstages him, especially Markle. He criticises her wardrobe choices, her career as an actress, her insurgent presence within the closed ranks of the royal family.
After her engagement to Harry was announced in November, Janetti had George reminding her: “There is ONE star in this family.”
While readers of People and other celebrity publications see images from a real-life fairy tale, Janetti’s 300000 Instagram followers are being given a dark fictional drama - a Game of Thrones starring an imperious toddler in shorts.
Speaking by phone recently, Janetti explained how he came to create what he called “a Shakespearean play for our times as told through Instagram” and what he has in store for the royal wedding.
Q: Are you a royals watcher? Is that how this started?
A: No, I’m not a royals watcher at all. I saw pictures of George’s first day of school. He had such an expressive face. I thought: “I’m going to write from his point of view.” That was the genesis of it. It started very simply.
I did a post. It got nothing. It wasn’t until I paired him with Meghan Markle. I did a mash-up of them side-by-side. People responded instantly to that. Then I saw how much fun I could have with it. I started thinking of him more fully. I see him as this fleshed-out character that I would write on any TV show.
Q: Who is Prince George as you’ve imagined him?
A: He’s a narcissist. He’s manipulative. He’s obsessed with being the king. He’s obsessed with the royal bloodline and people knowing their place in it. I see him as this Shakespearean character.
Q: Your Instagram account is the rare place where Meghan Markle is not beloved.
A: Everything about the royal family, especially now, is so saccharine and fake. There are so many puff pieces. I think George would be horrifically jealous. The spotlight has shifted off him on to her. And she’s American, which he would abhor. And she’s a B actress.
Q: Are you using a child to work out your own issues with Markle?
A: Writing even in this silly way you have to have affection for the people in the universe. She’s never behaving in a way that’s anything other than lovely. Then he comes at her with something horrible. I find it a bummer if someone thinks I personally don’t like her. You can’t see what I’m doing - creating this story around this kid who’s going to be the king of England.
What if he were not only fully aware but desperate to become king in the way of a Shakespeare play? She would be a stumbling block.
Q: Have you received flak for your snarky take? How have Brits reacted, for example?
A: Most people understand this is part of a bigger comic universe. It has this really biting humour. But I don’t want it to be wantonly cruel. It comes out of his character, his humanity, all of his pettiness. A lot of Brits follow it. They love it. Since I’m an American, I don’t have the baggage of the royal family. It’s easier for me to satirise them. Their feelings about it are much more complicated.
Q: Will you be glued to the TV coverage of the wedding?
A: I don’t even know if I’ll watch it. That kind of stuff bores me. I may just look for snippets, the highlights. Whatever I do, I cobble together on my phone. I’m sure I’ll watch some of it.
Q: Have you mapped out the story arc? Is George going to melt down at the wedding?
A: The way I see it, the wedding is the last episode of the season. We’re building toward something. But I don’t know how it’s going to end. - New York Times News Service