Although America is incredibly diverse, Britain too is a melting pot of races. Although they were the first country to abolish slavery in 1833, the royal family’s new addition proves that they are a long way from being considered “woke.” Just like President Obama experienced in the United States, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Wessex, has been subject to racial prejudice since she was introduced to the world.
What makes the racism toward her even more reprehensible is that the duchess is never going to be queen. She is literally just a public figure, like an ornament, paid by the British people to look regal, attend charities, have babies and be absolutely perfect. She can’t pass bills, make laws or have any real significance in British government. What is there to be mad about?
She’s divorced, an actress and American, yet Markle’s biggest crime in the eyes of the British media is that her DNA is 50% black. They got so blatantly disrespectful that Harry had to release a statement to the press in 2016, warning them to back off — and that was a couple of years before they were even married.
Obviously, things haven’t improved, because earlier this year the couple broke U.K. news when they announced that they would be leaving their royal duties and moving to Canada, due to the tremendous pressures of public life.
It’s interesting to note that Princess Diana also decided to step down, succumbing to the pressures of royal obligations. In the end, she still couldn’t escape them and had to pay for it with her life. At the end of the day, just like any celebrity, the members of the royal family are human beings. Yet, for whatever reason, the hyper-obsession over these people has caused the paparazzi to step out of bounds and run amuck like animals with no morality.
“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” stated Prince Harry. It is no wonder why Harry is being extremely supportive. Granted, yes, Markle is his wife; however, going against centuries of tradition is not an easy feat. Losing his mother to the monstrosities of public life is traumatizing, which is probably why Harry intends to stand by Markle’s side. He doesn’t want history to repeat itself.
But the royal family’s entire lifestyle is paid for by the taxes of the British people. They feel entitled to comment on any little thing the royals do, and the royals must take all of it. This is why the paparazzi have no regard for their space or privacy. It’s all about profit.
Well, the press finally got what they wanted; Markle has decided to distance herself from the family, but did they think Harry wasn’t going to go with her? “Suddenly, the message for Meghan has changed from ‘Why are you here?’ to ‘Where do you think you’re going?’” reported Lisa Respers from CNN. “The British royal family is one of the premiere symbols of whiteness in the world. She was never going to be fully accepted.”
Although the Queen had approved of Harry’s engagement to Markle, she never received approval from the rest of the country. The royal family has always been white, and although they have encountered people from different races and made several charity trips to countries in Africa, they are still a traditional household. Unfortunately, it’s a tradition that is not necessarily racially tolerant.
Look at it like this — if a group of people is surrounded by members that only look, act and talk like them, then, of course, they’re not going to see conflicts with their mentalities. However, it goes to show how shallow the diversity is in the royal family and Britain as a whole, considering how one biracial woman can completely upend an entire country just by being herself.
An outsider entering the royal family can be nerve-wracking. Britain has had one of the longest-lasting monarchies in the entire world; therefore, their family is constantly under careful scrutiny.
There are, of course, rules to follow because the royals have an image to uphold. However, there are some rules that even an outsider would deem ridiculous. Harper’s Bazaar reported just some of the rules. There are obvious ones; for example, everyone stands when the queen stands, men must bow and women must subtly curtsey, no PDA and all proposals must be approved by the queen.
Other rules are a little more strict: heirs must not travel together (William and George will travel separately when he turns 12), the queen must approve any wedding dresses, boys in the royal family must wear shorts until they’re 8 years old, there is a very specific way to drink tea and the women aren’t allowed to wear wedges because the queen doesn’t like them.
However, sometimes rules are made to be broken. Every so often, when public figures break these rules, they get praised by the public — because of Princess Diana, William and Harry were the first royal children to acquire surnames when she broke the trend of homeschooling royal children and, instead, sent them to private school.
Apparently, Markle has broken an unwritten rule, but instead of being praised, she is experiencing an extreme backlash. The rule? Being royal while black.
Meghan Markle and activism have been synonymous since her childhood. It was documented by Vice, which did a special called “Meghan Markle: Escaping the Crown.” Her mother, who was a social worker turned yoga instructor, taught Markle at a young age to stand up for what’s right and for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Katie Nicholl from Vanity Fair shared footage of young Markle protesting against the Gulf War at the age of 10.
Markle’s father on the other hand, was a lighting director who worked on the hit ’80s TV series “Married…with Children.” He often brought Markle to work with him, which is what prompted her love of acting. She worked as a self-taught calligrapher in between small acting jobs, until 2015, when she obtained her role as Rachel Zane in the critically acclaimed series “Suits.”
It’s fascinating that her character on “Suits” closely matches her personality as a bright, beautiful paralegal whose main objective was to be a lawyer, not for the money, but to help those in need. As vocal as Markle wanted to be, once she married Prince Harry, she was silenced because of unspoken regulations.
Markle has been a hot debate topic in British media for the past few years. Rachel Boyle, a biracial researcher and lecturer at Edge Hill University, attended a popular political debate show in the U.K. called “Question Time.” The topic was about the treatment of Markle in the tabloids since dating and marrying Prince Harry. Boyle stated, “Let’s be really clear about what this is, let’s call it by its name — it’s racism. She’s a black woman and she has been torn to pieces.”
Before Boyle could fully get her statement out, Laurence Fox, a British actor and songwriter, was quick to dismiss Boyle’s rightful judgment on the matter, and his interjection was even accompanied by a disgusted face and a melodramatic sigh. “It’s not racism,” Fox responded from the panel. “We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe. It’s so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it’s starting to get boring now.”
After Fox tried to discredit Boyle’s claims as “boring,” he called her racist when she called him a “white privileged male” for saying such a thing (which he is). What’s fascinating about this debate is that it correlates to what the U.S. dealt with at the end of the early 2000s.
A lot of people in America (mainly white people) were saying the exact same thing right about President Obama. This logic of “racism is dead” shows how that is furthest from the truth.
Britain’s media isn’t helping to make this situation better. If anything, they’re the main factor in the problem. Their propaganda and “passive” racism are just as discriminatory and rampant as America’s, if not worse. An example of this is Little Mix member Jesy Nelson, who revealed that she dealt with an excessive amount of cyberbullying due to her looks. It got to the point where she almost took her life in 2013.
Stormzy, a prominent British artist, spoke about the racism he continues to face. In December of 2019, an Italian news reporter asked if he felt Britain is facing racism to this day and he answered, “Definitely 100%.” He got a lot of backlash for that statement because the British media thought he was calling Britain 100% racist.
Meanwhile, Gary Neville, a white British football coach, called racism a problem in sports. Unsurprisingly, he was praised.
Imagine the immense amount of negativity Markle is facing daily, not only with racism, but with sexism as well. Malcolm X was not wrong when he said that black women are the least respected and protected group in America. He only missed the part about it being the entire world.
“The reaction to Meghan trying to carve out a new life with her husband ‘reinforces the stereotype of black women being destructive, divisive and unsatisfied,’” Nsenga Burton said to CNN.
Meghan Markle was born an upper middle class woman. She was never an ordinary girl; she just became even more extraordinary as time evolved. She married into one of the most famous and beloved families in the world. Yet none of that could save her from prejudice and racism. If anything, she suffered a lot more because her life was under a microscope for people to ruthlessly criticize.
America thought racism died with the election of President Barack Obama, who is also of mixed race. However, just as there was support for the Obamas, there were people, even government officials, who undermined him due to the color of his skin. Other than Harry, the entire family kept silent and never stood up for Markle. Britain is nowhere close to being as racially tolerant as they would like the world to believe. After all, look who leads their country.