In an unprecedented, yet unsurprising move, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on the 8th of January that they were “stepping down” as “senior royals” to pave their own path and eventually become “financially independent.”

The royal world went crazy as reports claimed the Queen (who gives the go-ahead on everything) had not been informed and that she was “devastated.” But, Buckingham Palace released a statement emphasizing that all of these talks were in early stages. A summit was called at the Sandringham Estate and Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry attended. Meghan returned to Canada where eight-month-old Archie Mountbatten-Windsor was waiting with his nanny and where the family had spent a six-week sabbatical.

Royal reporters were trying to fathom how and why this was happening as media went into meltdown. A revamped website crashed in minutes after the news was released as people scrambled to get more information. 

But let’s be clear – those same royal reporters, commentators and royal fans claiming to be “shocked” are actually part of the reason the decision was made. 

People can deny all they want that the criticism directed at the Duchess of Sussex, in particular, has nothing to do with her skin color, but denying facts is ignorance. Since the news broke a week ago, the commentary has been non-stop as countless white personalities spoke ignorantly about how they saw no racism or bias in the reporting of Meghan and called it “fair” and criticized and condemned the people of color who argued otherwise. 

Right-wing tabloids have thrived on creating the Duchess of Sussex into a dangerous entity, constantly and negatively comparing her to her sister-in-law and other members of the royal family, old and new. The Sussexes took legal action against two tabloids back in October 2019 for their cruel, untrue treatment and harassment campaign against Meghan, which included claims the paper edited and omitted extracts from a letter she sent to her estranged father to reflect badly on her. And let’s not forget the time Harry called out the same tabloids for racially harassing and abusing his then-girlfriend and her mother back in 2016, claiming that their lives were not a game and he refused to let them fall victim to the same forces that destroyed his mother, Princess Diana. 

And then came the social media trolls. For over two years, they have come out in criticism of the Duchess of Sussex’s entire existence in the royal family, always emphasizing she will never be good enough, she is a disgrace to the monarchy, she is breaking traditions and needs to learn her place. And these people are firing the ammo that is given to them by the tabloids, ultimately being the mouthpieces of the tabloids. Now, they blame her for the decision to step-down (using the racially provocative term“Megxit” – a portmanteau of “Meghan” and “Brexit”, the latter of which had racial connotations of its own), that she is the mastermind behind all of this. But they are ignoring the countless times Harry has wanted to leave the royal family but stayed because of family duty, the number of times he has criticized the entire institution and the media, both of which he firmly believes destroyed his mother. And is he now supposed to sit back and let them do the same to his wife and son? 

The unrelenting abuse has effected the Duchess of Sussex who talked openly about her struggles during pregnancy and after giving birth to her son, Archie in May 2019 and how it has taken a toll on her mentally. For this, she was condemned and criticized, accused of being a drama queen and attention seeker. How dare she, in her privileged position, have mental health problems? But when the Duchess of Cambridge (Meghan’s sister-in-law) spoke openly about her mental health problems after the birth of her children, people stood in solidarity with her and supported her. 

And despite all of this harassment, bullying and very obvious racial abuse, the royal family were silent, promoting their policy constantly of “never complain, never explain”. Yet the royal household was quick to defend Prince Andrew and the abhorrent rape claims against him and even defended Catherine when plastic surgery stories came out, denying them vehemently. Harry and Meghan were fighting wolves with no support from their family at all and told constantly to just put up with it or stand down. 

So here they are.

People claimed to be overjoyed that Meghan Markle – a mixed-race, self-made, divorcee, American actress – was marrying into the oldest institution in the world when their engagement was announced back in November 2017, but the fairytale has ended viciously and sadly. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex should be saluted and praised for stepped away from a toxic environment and protecting themselves and their young son when no-one else will. Now, they can write their own fairytale. 

  • Zara Shabir

    Zara Shabir is an introverted writer and reader, who recently graduated with an MA in criminology, specialising in human and women's rights, counter-terrorism and homicide. She has a passion to destroy toxic masculinity, raise awareness against violence towards women and promote and encourage education. When not doing the above, she is an amateur historian, a stationary addict and spending her weekends at home with her cat and a good book.