Maddy Mitchell / Gavel Media

Let Prince Harry Be "Just" Harry

Ever since the historic marriage between American Meghan Markle and then-Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the pair has faced many ruthless critics. Starting with the engagement announcement and continuing to today, with the couple and their son Archie now living in Canada after stepping back from duties, the international media coverage of the couple’s past 3 years has been exhaustive. 

Before Meghan Markle met Prince Harry, she worked various jobs (enter: Deal or No Deal case girl) until landing a role on the USA Network show, Suits. She was rising in the ranks as an actress and had a considerably wide audience. It was then when a mutual friend of the now-married couple introduced them, and there was reportedly no turning back. 

What has made this union so interesting from the start is the fact that Meghan is not British and diverges from the long-held pattern of brides of the royal family being Caucasian. She is proudly half-Black and incorporated her American life and the way she was raised into the wedding ceremony. Why shouldn’t she? This is her marriage! (well, second marriage, which the British press loves to add in). The intrinsic differences from the start surely indicated that there would be attention drawn to them, but did not mean that this was something to harp upon. In fact, it is long overdue that arguably the most famous royal family have other ethnic representation.

Yet, those differences very much did draw attention. Not only that, but light was shed upon completely random differences as well. When Meghan got pregnant, she more often than not rested a hand on her growing bump. However, once she did that too much, people brought it up. Even though Kate Middleton did the same thing, Meghan Markle got more heat for it. Actually, there is a huge amount of unfair comparisons between headlines for the two women, all describing Kate Middleton as wonderful and favorable, and Meghan as doing harm and being improper.  

When staff would step down under Prince William and Kate, no one would bat an eye. Again, with Meghan and Harry, it was a different story. There have been rumors of Meghan driving people out, being a mean woman, causing many personal assistants and maids to resign. There could have been any number of things that made those people step back from working for them, but the press still considered an “inside source” to be confirmation enough to use it as a story.

My point is, the couple has not had it easy at all since they got married. On top of being in the royal family, they dealt with extra attention and scrutiny. Once they became new parents, the situation got even worse, with them facing that same spotlight and the responsibilities of taking care of their child and being royals, along with a new strain of criticisms. Not surprisingly, this all became too much for them: in January, they decided to step back from being in the public eye and from the official duties of the royal family. 

This has brought a wave of criticism of its own. While it can be argued it is the family’s duty to be serving the people of Britain, I stand by my view that Meghan and Harry are entirely entitled to be doing this. Their son is in his formative years of life, and they want to focus on being good parents to him. Being a good parent may include ensuring Meghan and Harry themselves are fulfilled and happy, as there have been countless examples of children growing up in the spotlight having a troubled life later on.

These decisions made as a family have been put on Meghan unfairly and created more of a bad name than good for Meghan and Harry in general in recent weeks. However, when I think of what Will and Harry were born into, I still cannot see the crime in wanting to take control for once. Being able to protect and love a child is a parent’s primary privilege and responsibility. Creating a happier family life is something no one should be condemned for. If anything, this should be a positive example to people everywhere that putting your family and your own health and happiness before fame is the right thing to do in some cases.

For all the trouble the media has caused, I believe this is a good move on Meghan and Harry’s part. It shows personal growth, and it also exhibits that some old traditions and ways of life in archaic institutions may be changing—arguably for the better. Good for them for knowing what they want and taking it. Most importantly, if just this once a prince who has suffered from media coverage and scrutiny his entire life wants to be “Just Harry,” let him.

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