Meghan Markle’s recent explosive interview with Oprah has the world at large reeling from the revelations that have come to light regarding the inner workings of Britain’s beloved royal family.
Numerous media outlets have drawn parallels between the palace’s neglect of Markle as her mental health rapidly deteriorated, and their cold shoulder approach regarding Princess Diana’s struggles in the same vein.
Most shockingly, Markle revealed in-house conversations regarding the imputations her child would impose upon the monarchy due to his race. However, is the discrimination Markle encountered really that surprising?
A closer look at the institution of the British monarchy, and the precedents upon which it operates, reveals a plethora of policies geared towards suppressing the women of the family.
The palace’s long-standing “no comment” policy bars the Windsors from responding to narratives spread involving them. However, when the UK’s tabloid culture is so heavily geared towards disparaging women, it is clear which members of the royal family are truly being hushed.
I, personally, have yet to see a tabloid article denigrating a male Windsor for putting his hands in his pockets, an act which was somehow disgraceful enough to earn Markle a barrage of cruel, nonsensical attacks from these publications.
Markle further revealed the palace’s refusal to title her child, the grandchild of a Crown prince, and how both Markle and her son were later denied the same security that was afforded to other (white) members of the royal family. In addition to this, the often favorable portrayal of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, compared to the jarring condemnation of Markle, as pointed out by Oprah, indicates just how severe the perpetuation of racism in the British media sphere is.
Most recently, television personality Piers Morgan went on record with his harsh response to the 2 hour prime-time interview. In what he calls a “two-hour trashathon of the royal family,” Morgan’s visceral instinct is seemingly to discredit Markle’s statements, going as far as blatantly calling her a liar. This vehement response is indicative of another sinister paradigm that permeates too many mindsets today— the unwillingness to believe women when they unveil their stories of abuse at the hands of prominent institutions in society.
Even more unsettling, the discriminatory backlash Markle has endured following her interview is not a novel phenomenon at all. In fact, it precedes even her wedding. In 2016, when Markle was revealed to be Prince Harry’s long-term girlfriend, the media released a plethora of scathing accounts detailing how Markle was nothing but a gold-digger and social climber (yes, the same Markle who was already a self-made millionaire and prolific actress at the time), and attempted to reduce her to nothing but an older woman and divorcee (because a woman’s inherent worth is dictated by her age or her positions adjacent to men).
The treatment of Markle, at the hands of the British monarchy and the media, epitomizes everything wrong with how women are viewed in the public sphere, especially women of color. The American outrage at this story, while justified, does not absolve the American cultural and social spheres of committing the same crimes. We must remain cognizant of the ordeal Markle endured, and how many women face similar, unfair scrutiny in America as well.