Since the beginning of their marriage in May of 2018, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have grown familiar with the grief accompanying their involvement with the British Monarch. They have been on the receiving end of racist media coverage and a part of an ever-growing conflict with the Crown.
Now, almost three years later, Meghan and Harry’s discord with the Institution has come to a head. On Sunday night, the pair took control over their narrative in a private, sit-down interview with Oprah. In the emotional interview, Meghan Markle candidly illustrated the maltreatment she endured as a working royal within the monarchy, setting social media into a frenzy.
Firstly, Meghan shared her struggles with getting help for suicide ideation from the Royal institution stating, “I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help… and I was told that I couldn’t [because] it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Meghan disclosing her mental health issues to an institution that was supposed to protect her but was prevented from doing so serves as a reminder: all-too-often Black women are expected to be strong or endure abuse for the comfort or protection of others. Social media quickly noted the hindsight surrounding the Crown’s unwillingness to offer protection to a Black woman they deemed unworthy of assimilation into the monarch, solely based on her personhood.
Additionally, Meghan and Oprah discussed a popular tabloid story published by the Daily Mail that circulated six months after Meghan and Harry’s wedding. The story covered a scandal claiming Meghan made Kate Middleton cry days leading up to the wedding due to a disagreement over flower girl dresses.
Meghan revealed in the interview, however, it was Kate who made her cry.
Following the incident, Meghan said Kate apologized and brought flowers and a note to heal the rift. However, this story would then expose Meghan to the inner workings of the racist tabloid press and the extent UK media would go to publicly villainize a Black woman.
In fact, the British tabloids are infamous for racism, bigotry, and bullying; something which they vehemently deny. In recent years, UK tabloids have written offensive and discriminatory stories covering Brexit, the refugee crisis, and immigration. Meghan Markle has only been the latest target within a media storm as the British press profit from writing racist stories on the former Duchess.
Notably, one of the more major disclosures made by Meghan in the interview, and later affirmed by Harry, is how an unnamed member of the Royal Family raised concerns about how dark the complexion of their son Archie’s skin might be while Meghan was pregnant.
Oprah’s shocked reaction after hearing this revelation mirrored many viewers’ own disturbance upon learning the extent of the Crown’s racism. The comments made toward Meghan’s son were abhorrently racist and highlight the long existed presence of anti-Black racism the British Monarch often perpetuates.
All of this considered, Megan’s experience of enduring racism and misogynoir within the ranks of the establishment and the press should serve as a reminder of Britain’s violent racism and oppressive colonialism. More specifically, the crown’s history is quite literally intertwined with slavery and the colonization of African and Caribbean nations.
Slave-trading initiatives were endorsed by the British monarchy starting in the 1500s. Throughout the following centuries, Britain profited from slave-trading out of West Africa, at times even supplying enslaved individuals for the United States, with the Crown’s financial and political support. At one point, Britain even ruled almost 30 percent of Africa. African countries like Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda were under British rule as early as the start of the twentieth century. And many of the aforementioned nations are still navigating the negative impact of colonization.
In recent years, there has been a slew of television series depicting royal life on screen from Netflix’s hit shows Bridgerton and The Crown to Hulu’s The Great. Shows like Bridgerton have been accused by critics of romanticizing the British Monarch, perpetuating colorism, and erasing the legacy of slavery in the process.
There have been similarities drawn between Meghan’s mistreatment by the Crown to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. The eerie parallels, if nothing else, prove The Royal Family has not learned from history, nor will they change. Rather, the Crown continues to bully those with less power. So, we must remember not to romanticize the seeming and intentional glamour of royal society.
As Kathleen Newman-Bremang accurately states in an article for Refinery29, “An institution built on colonialism and racism that publicly prides itself on decency and decorum not only thrives on their bigotry being wielded in secret — it depends on it.” Instead, we must engage with the British monarch as they are: an imperialist institution with a detailed history of anti-Black violence.
On the other hand, many on social media have critiqued Meghan for her willingness to marry into such a corrupt institution. Therefore, online critics claim she is liable for the suffering she endured at the hands of the Crown.
However, we can acknowledge Meghan’s consent to marry into a colonialist institution complicit in the oppression of marginalized people. We can additionally acknowledge the colorism, featurism, and texturism which allowed Meghan such proximity to the monarch, while it was racism that sought to root her out. All while also empathizing with the anti-Blackness she endured from the institution and support her and Harry’s willingness to learn the ways they can improve going forward.
Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah was a necessary one in revealing how far the Palace will go to protect white members of the royal family. Subsequently, allowing Meghan, a Black woman, to be appallingly villainized in the process.
Harry confessed he feared history would be repeating itself if he didn’t take action to protect his family. As the public, we must continue our efforts to protect and advocate for Black people and the most oppressed among us.
The empire the royal family benefits from at the expense of Black lives must continuously be held liable for the ongoing destruction it has caused— even long after Meghan and Harry’s exit.
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