The British Royal Family is nothing more than a lurid soap opera to the tabloids, which this week come up with a few wild and fact-free plot twists of their own.
The tabloids have long indulged their salacious imaginations at the expense of the Royals, who are loathe to sue for libel, exposing them in recent months to stories of Prince Harry's "real father" being at least two different men, Prince Charles plotting Princess Diana's death, and Charles' wife Camilla being locked up in a mental institution.
This week German TV repairman-turned-private eye Guenther Focke, aged 71, claims that he is Prince Charles' long-lost brother, the result of his mother's World War II fling with Prince Phillip, according to the Globe, which includes the headline: "DNA Test Bombshell!" The bombshell? Focke is demanding a DNA test. The "exclusive interview" with Focke might be more gripping if he hadn't been making this claim since 1995, and penned a book on the subject in 2008: Not In Her Majesty's Service. In those past 22 years not one iota of evidence has confirmed Focke's claims, but that's good enough for the Globe to revive the ancient allegation.
"William & Kate Crowned King and Queen!" screams the cover of the National Enquirer, in a story that spectacularly ignores every known fact and law in the Royal line of succession.
A "top secret meeting of government leaders" from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand meets next month to force Queen Elizabeth to abdicate and "cast their votes in secret" for Prince William to take the throne, "and there's nothing the Queen – desperate for Charles, her eldest son, to succeed her – can do."
Let's be clear on this: The Queen has vowed never to abdicate; Charles is next in line for the throne; and there is nothing foreign government leaders can do to change the British line of succession, unless the British Parliament ever votes to abolish the monarchy. And since this imaginary meeting has not yet even occurred, the Enquirer cover claiming that William has been crowned King is premature at best.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry's future bride Meghan Markle's "secret junk food diet has royal courtiers cringing over her caloric cuisine!" reports the Enquirer. It claims that the American actress loves to wolf down mac 'n' cheese and French fries, saying: "I love carbs." Proving that what you post on social media years ago really can come back to haunt you, even if it bears no relation to reality.
"Princess in Training!" declares the cover of People magazine, which knows its readers love a good Royal story. Unfortunately, this isn't it. The future Royal is reportedly being taught how to curtsy, wave, and how to politely decline to sign autographs. Also how to sit, roll over, and beg, one assumes.
Back in the real world, the Enquirer claims a "World Exclusive," which you can also read in this week's Globe, which calls its story a "bombshell exclusive." Both report that American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2003 placed explosives inside the corpse of an enemy combatant and exploded his head. Former U.S. Army Sgt Ronald Logan appears to have photographs of a dead Afghan soldier, but they are hardly conclusive evidence of anything. Suffering PTSD, Sgt Logan reportedly attempted suicide in 2013, was charged with sexual misconduct, accused of attempted rape in 2015, and demoted to private in a court-martial, before being discharged for misconduct, the Enquirer reports. Logan claims to have written to President Obama in 2013, but received no response. Intriguingly, while the Enquirer portrays this as the "Shame of Abuse By U.S. Troops," the Globe headline places blame elsewhere: "Obama War Crime Cover-Up! . . . Ex-President ignored evil atrocities on his watch!"
But more importantly, will Ben Affleck get back together with estranged wife Jennifer Garner? Us magazine's cover story is breathlessly devoted to reports that the couple are "spending nights together! . . . Ben declares he's still in love with Jen . . . Jen's only dates have been with a Ben look-alike . . . Will they reunite – or finally move on?" It's all a huge tease, as Us goes on to report that Affleck stays at Garner's home on occasions "to log some time with their children," and that Garner is already moving on, looking not for a boyfriend but for "a partner."
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us magazine to tell us that Julianne Moore wore it best, that Dennis Quaid admits "the biggest misconception about me is that I'm a nice guy," that Grey's Anatomy star Camilla Luddington carries pimple concealer, a satin eye mask and her daughter's teething ring in her Stella McCartney purse, and that the stars are just like us: they have pedicures, pump gas and go through airport security. Shocking, as ever.
The award for the week's most disturbing headline goes to the Enquirer, with its story on Burt Reynolds' alleged problems with incontinence on a recent movie: "Burt's Bowels Explode!" The 82-year-old acting legend on occasions would "have to run to his trailer" to take care of business, claims the report – as if other actors never have to use the bathroom. The only surprise is that the Enquirer does not have exclusive photos of skid marks in Burt's underpants.
Onwards and downwards . . .