Let’s Leave Meghan Alone

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Megxit is an awful word. Like Brexit, the word seems impersonal. Unlike Brexit, the word concerns two actual people. In an age of digital media, where outrageous headlines are clicked on and truthful ones are not, the Royal Family are often subject to sensationalist reporting. Meghan, for instance, has been called a ‘master manipulator’ since the pair decided to give up their royal duties. The Express even claimed she is leaving to get out of the ‘shadow’ of Kate and William.

It is the stuff of reality TV: our very own Kardashian-Jenner series, panning out in castles and mansions, funded by the taxpayer. Except the cast don’t want the attention, and the storyline bears little relation to the truth. 

Ultimately, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are leaving to give themselves the ‘space’ they need to live. It is a tragic irony that the hateful response to their announcement epitomises their very reasons for leaving. 

Whilst some commend the pair, you only have to click on their instagram announcement post to see a torrent of abusive comments. Patriotism has spawned verbal diarrhea: they are “spoilt brats” (according to the more PG users), betraying the Queen and the taxpayer. The consensus is that divorce is on the cards; thank God Harry can finally find himself a worthy partner.

It is appalling. No interest in royalty is necessary to recognise hate in its most primal form. The fact that the taxpayer contributes a small sum to the Royal estates does not give the taxpayer the right to attack Meghan Markle for escaping from the barbarity of the British press and public. She was never going to be the typical royal wife, as an independent, self made actress with her own values and goals. Her family is more complicated than can be imagined having cream tea with the Queen.

Yet, for all Meghan isn’t, her identity as a successful African- American actress had the potential to revitalise the meaning of Royalty. This was clear from their untraditional wedding, featuring the Kingdom’s Choir’s moving rendition of ‘Stand By Me’, and a powerful sermon from American Bishop Michael Curry’s about how “love is the way”.

The powerful message of the wedding stuck with me- yet the sentiment didn’t seem to reach the press. A prevalent line of reporting followed how Meghan’s choice of wedding flowers could have harmed Princess Charlotte, portraying her as the vindictive, reckless intruder. It is clear that much of Britain chose to reject a new vision of royalty, rather than stand by it. 

Meghan’s adjustment to royal life continued to be turbulent. She spoke of feelings of vulnerability in an interview, stating “not many people have asked if I’m okay”. Adapting to a totally new lifestyle, in a different country with an infant, was never going to be easy, let alone with the addition of relentless press scrutiny. Their move to ‘step back’ from being senior Royals is a step back from the confines external influences, and a step towards more autonomy, choice and happiness in daily life.

It must be asked why Meghan has been received so badly. MPs are asking this too. In an open letter, signed by 72 MPs from across the political spectrum, MPs were “calling out what can only be described as outdated, colonial undertones to some of these [news] stories”. The female parliamentarians shared “an understanding of the abuse and intimidation” used against women. 

Journalist Belle Mackie said that women who marry into the royal family “always endure horrendously sexist criticism. Diana was too emotional, Sarah Ferguson was an embarrassment, ‘Waity’ Kate was too desperate.” Meghan is far from an exception.

The press have hounded the royal couple from the start. Harry deemed their response to Meghan “unacceptable”; they resorted to legal action after experiencing phone hacking and invasions of privacy last year. Harry spoke emotively of what his mother endured from the press. After the tragedy of Dianna’s death, it is no surprise that the couple see privacy of imperative importance.

The demonisation of Meghan Markle must stop. ‘Megxit’ is not a dramatic plotline but a desperate response to a suffocating, unhealthy situation, void of privacy and respect. Royals are human too.

Image Credit: The Independent