“Very much not racist”—interesting words coming from a monarchy whose legacy is steeped in white supremacy and colonization. The fairytale image of the royal life of Meghan Markle was exposed for what it really was last Sunday: a nightmare.
The public was already well aware of the nature of the issue facing the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with newspapers circling rumors of “Bully Meghan” and “Meghan makes Kate cry.” The Oprah interview showed us the true extent of the problem. From sharing how the royal family had the power to stop stories but didn’t, to discussing the mental health impacts these events had, the couple laid it all out quite vulnerably. One of the most emotional moments of the interview was when Markle relayed how there were discussions with Prince Harry about how potentially “dark” her child’s skin would be, and whether a title would be given or not. Adjusting to new in-laws is hard enough; adding on royal titles, a ravenous media, and racist systems makes acclimation nearly impossible.
The response by the British media was disappointing, but not surprising. Some headlines seemed like copy-pastes from previous headlines slamming Meghan. The smear campaign run against Meghan in the lead-up to the interview shows how systemic the problem is. In her interview with Piers Morgan, Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said it best—the British media is more outraged about racism being “called out” than at the fact that racism is occurring. This interview brought to the fore months of criticism and outright vitriol Morgan has shown for Meghan Markle, and this reckoning has led to his decision to leave Good Morning Britain. Morgan is just a singular example of the larger problem of racism in the media. This is a global problem, but it’s acutely evident with the treatment of the royal family. The royal family issued its statement of concern, but coming from the same family who protected Prince Andrew, a known associate of Jeffrey Epstein, it's hard to believe an “inquiry” will accomplish anything of value. The monarchy’s continued existence is a separate question, but it’s clear it needs to read the current moment and work to meet it.
It’s amazing how Americans spilling tea can expose the monarchy. Markle is being treated as a traitor and the unhealthy obsession with her demonstrates why this problem isn’t going away. The British media would rather go after Markle for calling them out than actually report and investigate the claims she made; again, outrage over exposure rather than the problem itself. The incessant media criticism serves only to incite controversy for controversy’s sake. Across the board, the media needs to take a step back and see the bigger headline here—a Black woman was driven away from her in-laws because of their racism. The response shouldn’t be to gaslight; right now what everyone needs to do is listen. In this year of racial reckoning, it’s on all of us to amplify, listen, and self-educate. Calling out racism in the media isn’t “whiny” behavior; it’s necessary accountability that needs to be acknowledged.
The couple’s decision to step away from royal life has been entirely validated, though in truth, Meghan and Harry shouldn’t have to share their traumatic experiences in order to gain public support. By moving to the US, they have a clean slate to pursue creative endeavors like the Archwell podcast, take a celebrity tour bus with James Corden, and await the arrival of their second child in private. They broke free of their gilded cage, and now the work to dismantle it begins.