It is not remiss to say that Megan Markle has been the most divisive and most radical addition to join the British Royal Family ranks since the late Princess Diana (may she rest in pace).
Since getting married to Prince Harry back in 2018(is it me, or does that feel like it was much longer), Megan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has caused quite a stir among the Royal family, British media and the broader British culture. It is fair to say that she has not been treated kindly by the Brits.
At first, there were many high hopes. There was an initial outpouring of love and excitement when Prince Harry officially announced he would be marrying Megan Markle, a divorced American actress from California who starred in Suits. However, it soon turned sour. After that memorable fire and brimstone, full-on African-Sunday-service wedding reception, the British media soon had their claws out. We had a news outlet stating Megan's DNA was 'exotic'. A BBC presenter tweeted an image comparing her and Harry's then-unborn son to a chimpanzee (thankfully, that idiot journalist got the sack) and even suggestions that Megan Markle eating avocado is somehow linked to human rights abuses and drought." Ok then. *rolls eyes in confusion.*
Then came the rift with the Royal Family. We first got an inclination of this family feud when the Queen banned Megan from wearing the royal jewels worn by Princess Diana. Allegedly, this was a response to Megan's demanding behaviour ahead of her wedding. Things came to a head when the Duke and Dutchness of Sussex announced they wanted to be 'financially independent’ and carve their business entity/empire outside of the Royal Family while still benefiting from the brand association. The fact that the Sussexes did not consult the Queen before making this decision only added gallons of petrol to the fire.
Was it just racism?
After months of uncertainty, the Sussexes have now officially announced that they will no longer be working members of the Royal Family, effectively severing ties with the Royals. With an upcoming stint on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, their brand building in America now underway, now is a good time to reflect on Megan's treatment by the British press.
Many of those in the Black British community believe Megan was a victim of blatant racism from both the British media and the Royal family. And that’s it. But I do not think it's that simple.
Prominent Americans and the Royal Family have never mixed well
I am an avid student of history. You want to know why? Because history reveals seeds that were planted long ago and grew into the current situations happening in the present. Nothing is by accident.
The history books show us that whenever an American, especially a famous one, becomes entangled with a Royal Family member, it is almost always a messy affair. For example, Edward VIII, the shortest-serving king of the United Kingdom, caused a constitutional crisis when he proposed to Wallis Simpson, an American socialite, in 1936. This caused a great deal of headache for the Royal Family because Miss Simpson was twice divorced, which put Edward VIII at odds with the church, eventually forcing his hand to abdicate the throne altogether so he could marry his love.
There have been other times when Americans forming close relationships, romantic or otherwise, with British royals has brought scandal to the Royal Family. Kiki Preston, another American socialite, was a drug-addicted, free spirit who befriended Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George V and Mary of Teck. Preston encouraged Prince George to embark on a hedonistic and scandalous lifestyle of sex and drugs. It is even alleged they both had a son out of wedlock.
Prince Andrew had a short-lived affair with Koo Stark, an American actress, much like Megan Markle, who starred in a very raunchy film. Prince Andrew's close friendship with the disgraced and deceased American investor Jeffery Epstein has been well covered. Another American investor, John Bryan, effectively ended the already rocky marriage between Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson when the former was caught sucking on the former's toes in 1992. What a scandal!
As you can see, there has been a precedent of prominent Americans having relations with British Royals that almost always ends in scandal. The fact that Megan Markle was a divorcee before falling in love with Prince Harry would raise eyebrows among the Royal family, least of all someone as conservative as the Queen.
American's showy behaviour is also very much at odds with the dignified reservation that the Royal Family aims to perpetuate to the public (even if we all know they're not as prim and proper as they make out to be). It's not surprising that the Queen has been unhappy with Megan Markle since the former actress refuses to bow to conformity and follow protocol.
The Queen's disapproval of Megan Markle significantly influenced the negative tabloid reporting around her.
The British paparazzi have always been nasty. Megan is not the first to experience it.
While I do not deny that there is undoubtedly some racial element involved with how the British press has reported on Megan, it is not the only factor. Again, good old history shows us that the British media always love a juicy Royal scandal. The British paparazzi is one of the most reviled and brutal in Europe. The tabloid's obsession with celebrities contributed to the tragic death of Princess Diana.
Although Princess Diana's mental health was already precariously on edge with her marriage to Prince Charles disintegrating before the public, the relentless media onslaught made it worse. It has been well documented how journalists were incentivised with big pay-outs for getting exclusive snaps of the Princess of Wales. The media did praise Princess Diana of course as the people’s princess, a reception the Duchess of Sussex has not received, but they were also quick to highlight her several love affairs. As you can see, media intrusion and bad press is not exclusive to Megan Markle.
Megan’s individuality invited criticism, not her black heritage
The British press used Megan's biracial heritage to embarrass her, but I would argue that her conduct has brought this much negativity on her more than her race. Now, before you crucify me, I am in no way stating that Megan has done anything wrong in the way she has carried herself. I personally think she is a wonderfully progressive and independent woman who has brought much-needed rejuvenation and relevance to an outdated Royal Family.
But I also understand that it is because she is an ex-divorcee, an American and is also very independent that has caused her to be shunned by the Royal Family and be a victim of a smear campaign of negativity by the British press.
Ultimately, the unkind treatment of Megan Markle by the British monarchy and the media is simply a display of progressive attitudes clashing with conservative ones. It is a battle of ideas. Megan Markle married into a family that isn’t big on modernity or breaking with tradition. As much as I admire Meghan, I think it's better for her, Prince Harry and their children to live in America.
They’re both far too cool for the Royal Family anyway.