Meghan Markle has often been portrayed as the woman who “wears the pants” in her relationship. The pundit class insist, on an almost daily basis, that she lured and seduced Harry and so it is not particularly surprising that the joint decision between them to step down as Senior Royals is being paraded as some kind of entrapment; Meghan and her feminine wiles have supposedly gotten the better of Harry and completely clouded his judgement.
After the initial announcement, twitter was flooded with tweets about the young couple. Quite a few of them seemed to have a similar theme; I read one tweet for instance that actually applauded the Royal Family’s ability to ignore their scandals and keep it together for the sake of the country.
You see, scandals are permissible so long as one smiles, is composed, and isn’t Meghan Markle. Because, God forbid a black woman should decide to open a door for herself or flash a bit of skin. Outrageous!
I was at my neighbour’s 80th birthday party last year, and the old lady who lives next door decided to treat us to an anti-Meghan rant. “He could have had any girl in the world,” she said, but he chose “her”. She then began listing the traits that make Meghan ill-suited for the golden boy: she’s divorced, American, an actress… Just say it, I thought. Say she’s black.
Unsurprisingly, she did not, and my neighbour’s 80th birthday party was not ruined, but I really do think that that is what she was thinking (after all, I once overheard this neighbour making anti-immigration comments).
These attacks on Meghan’s “negative” qualities are often just to veil the real reason people don’t like her: she’s black. We’ve seen this again and again – people making up issues to avoid saying the obvious. We saw it when Disney cast Halle Bailey to be Ariel and a torrent of people started foaming at the mouths, angrily typing out ” “but Ariel is supposed to be a red-head”. In other words, Ariel is supposed to be white, and so, too, is a Princess – not mixed race, but white.
Another one of my neighbours passively remarked that if Harry and Meghan are happy, that is all that matters. Harry had many different women to choose from but Harry chose her. Although the choice of words “he could have had any girl in the world” seems to (1) lack consent and (2) dismiss the shocking revelation that it is not every girl’s dream to be a Princess, or get married at all.
The beloved English Prince chose a black, divorced, American actress to be his bride, knowing quite well he’d be scrutinised by his family and lambasted by the press. He must really love her, and she must really love him to give up her career (and that incredible blog!).
That interview Meghan gave last year, where she remarked that the interviewer was the first person to ask her how she is, was haunting. She looked broken. Dead in the eyes. Harry looked exhausted. If Harry and Meghan break up, it will be because of our treatment of them, not because she was “difficult” or they weren’t actually in love.
I don’t think Harry would step down as a Senior Royal for a woman he did not adore. Harry’s comments on avoiding repeating history were clearly about his late mother. Diana died young, so now she is eternalised and immortalised as the People’s Princess, and people forget how she was treated in life.
People are hounding Meghan more than they hounded Diana, especially now that we have social media, so Meghan is being heckled nonstop. And unlike Diana, who was simply at times “rebellious”, Meghan is an immigrant, a commoner and a person of colour.
BuzzFeed compared 20 headlines to see how royal reporters covered cases where Meghan and Kate did the same thing, including breaking royal protocol by showing their shoulders. One case even criticised Meghan for crossing her legs whilst sat metres away from “Kate’s perfect ‘Duchess’ slant,” whilst ignoring the fact Camilla and Princess Margaret also had their legs crossed in the same photo. And – get this – the even the Queen had her ankles crossed. What alienates Meghan from the others?
This coverage, and the appalling number of people defending it, tells you everything you need to know about the growth of bigotry in this country.
As for all of the Royal protocols that Meghan has broken (and she has broken several), is it really of our concern that Meghan – good God! – flashed an inch of skin? It seems incredibly hypocritical that the same people that express such alarm at Megan showing her shoulders, yet think of Islamic ideals of women’s modesty to be dated and draconian.
Perhaps instead of shaming Meghan for daring to not be covered head to toe, it’s time these Royal protocols were changed. As Ilyse Hogue said, in telling her young daughter the story of the Princess who walked away to be herself, she realised: this is literally the best Princess story ever.