Is Duchess Of Sussex Meghan Markle Being Treated Unfairly?
From revealing intimate details about her family to suggesting that her biracial heritage has made her unworthy of a place in the monarchy, British tabloids have mercilessly scrutinized the young royal. The public is claiming unjust treatment and outright abuse
The likes of former Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, George Clooney, Sir Elton John, Jameela Jamil, Ellen Degeneres, Pink, and most recently, 72 female members of British parliament have come to the defense of Meghan Markle for being the object of repeated abuse by British tabloids.
The issue which came to a head in October has put two tabloid titles in hot water for their ethically questionable practices, raising the question of why exactly the British press have been fixated on the American royal and on putting the most intimate details of her life on display—often, in an untruthful and unjust fashion.
Much has been revealed about the ongoing saga and to give you a better picture of how it all started, what the tabloids have said over the months, and how Meghan has fought back, we give you a thorough account of all the issue's most crucial developments.
The simmer before the boil
Even before Meghan officially married into the royal family, it was noted that British tabloids had already launched their attack on her.
They fueled the stories surrounding two of her estranged half-siblings from her father's former relationship, suggesting that the actress-turned-duchess was running away from an ordinary past and eager to leave her family behind for a life of wealth and fame. Meghan was portrayed as an ambitious gold-digger whose utmost goal was to secure her place in life.
More so, days before her wedding, Meghan's father Thomas was found guilty of staging photos showing him in an Internet cafe browsing photos of his daughter and his then royal son-in-law-to-be with American paparazzi. British tabloids quickly picked up the images and blasted headlines claiming Meghan had intentionally excluded her "classless" family from the royal wedding in order to hide her past and roots.
They touched on her biracial background, too, and had implied that the traditionally Caucasian British monarchy would get a dose of "exoticism" come the time Meghan produces an heir to the throne. Focusing on her African heritage was called out for having tones of colonialism and racism—a theme that would continue well over a year since she married Prince Harry.
The ceaseless nitpicking and fault-finding
Despite Meghan's popularity among Britons, tabloids were determined to undermine her influence and the positive effects she had on the public.
One issue they fabricated and hoped to gain traction was her supposed friction between Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Article after article about how Meghan's "bratty" and "pushy" behavior in the Palace had driven Kate to tears and alienated Palace staff was published despite their lack of basis, and they were soon followed up by sweeping statements about Meghan being the cause of Princes Harry and William's developing rift that led the Sussex royals to move miles away from their in-laws.
They blamed her, too, for changing "too much too soon" within the royal family. Tabloids, this time, hoped to rouse support from royalists who continue to rally for keeping royal institutions intact by showing how Meghan's "foreign" and "modern" ways were damaging to British tradition and distressing to none other than the Queen herself.
Despite these accusations, Meghan had kept silent for months on end and continued on in her charity work and royal responsibilities. Likewise, Prince Harry had simply ignored the baseless headlines, up until October this year when Meghan decided to address the publications behind them directly in an unforeseen move—via an announcement that she would be suing them, no less.
The pregnancy continued bullying
Those familiar with British tabloids will know better than to assume that they will give a pregnant woman a break, or stop with the birth of their child.
When Meghan and Prince Harry were preparing to welcome baby Archie into the world in the spring, they wrote about Meghan's weight gain (and compared her body to Kate's trimmer figure), criticized her for holding her bump too often in public, and for hosting an expensive baby shower.
When Archie was born in May, tabloids yet again fanned the flame rising from insulting remarks made about Meghan by prominent figures. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's sister Rachel described Meghan as the child of a "dreadlocked African-American woman,” while a BBC radio presenter Dany Baker tweeted a photo of a man and woman walking side by side a chimpanzee accompanied by the caption, "Royal baby leaves hospital."
The tipping point
As focus shifted to Meghan's new role as a mother, readers had slowly lost interest in the Meghan vs. Kate and William, Meghan vs. British tradition, and Meghan vs. pretty much everyone everything plot lines that tabloids were spewing from their rumor mills, until they did the unspeakable.
The Daily Mail and Mail had gotten a hold of and published private correspondence between Meghan and her father expressing the pain and sadness she had felt over their relationship in February, and it was a field day. For the first time, tabloids' claims were backed up by authentic evidence of Meghan's estrangement from her family in the form of a handwritten five-page letter from Meghan.
More so, the publications went on to omit words, sentences, and entire paragraphs from the letter in order for it to fit the message they were trying to send without regard to the letter's original context and intent.
The big reveal shocked the duchess as one can imagine, leading her to question how and from whom the copy of the letter was acquired.
Deeming the move to have crossed the line and an outright invasion of her privacy, Meghan filed legal action against the tabloid for the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act of 2018 in October.
Enough was finally enough for her and she had decided to draw the line after almost two years of incessant bullying and character defamation.
The Prince supports his wife
Meghan's pursuit of justice didn't stop there, however.
Prince Harry himself announced that he was behind Meghan in her choice to stand up for herself in court, penning an open letter explaining why he chose to do so.
"For these select media, this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in," he said.
"There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this. Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one," the royal continued.
He further details the reasons behind their choice to sue: the tabloids' treatment of Meghan reminded him of the role they played in his mother's death, a traumatic event that left him and his brother reeling in loss even years after. Serving these tabloids justice was his way of protecting his wife.
"Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces," he candidly explained.
The reasons behind the fixation
Many have speculated why tabloids have been incredibly fixated on Meghan in the first place; when there are a million and one other celebrities, royals, and British events that they could possibly write about, they consistently choose to focus on Meghan.
Theories have been offered to explain this:
1. She's half-African.
This could all very well be because Meghan has black lineage, and that modern-day racism is still very much alive in the 21st century. The fact that a non-white woman married into the royal family could be enough cause for her to be bullied by those who take pride in making fun of others who are different from them.
2. She's a woman in power.
It's not enough that she's black. She's a woman, too, which means she fits neatly into two categories that, historically, were not associated with positions of power and influence. Perhaps her attackers are those not ready to accept that the world is no longer controlled by white men and white men only, and having a woman like her firmly in place in one of England's most powerful institutions pushes their buttons.
3. She is well-loved.
Despite the fact that Meghan is American and was raised in a totally different culture, the British, especially the youth, have taken a liking to her. And when a person is well-loved, there will always be those who live for nothing other than to tear them down for the sake of it.
4. She's a break from tradition.
Not everyone is comfortable with change, and Meghan marrying into the royal family is a massive change indeed. And while she represents changing attitudes towards people of color and the new meaning of being a modern monarch—things that many people will give their thumbs up to—it's possible that those comfortable with the pre-Meghan past wish to ease her out of her position to return things to the status quo.
In the midst of tabloid scrutiny, Meghan is not without her equally powerful supporters.
Just this week, Hilary Clinton went on the record to condemn all the things that have been written about her in tabloids while giving the new mom some advice. On a similar note, she raised the question about how tabloids had even been permitted to print the stories that they spun; it highlights the predatory attitudes the British press had always held towards the rich and famous, one that can be likened to vultures lurking nearby to grab any piece of meat that falls off a carcass, or in this case, a potential controversy.
"You know, it's not easy. And there are some techniques that can be learned along the way, some humour, some deflection, whatever, which I'm sure she will come to. But it is tough what she is going through. And I think she deserves a lot better," the former first lady said.
She went on to agree that much of what Meghan has endured had to do with race and her background.
Before Hilary, Sir Elton John defended Meghan and Harry for their "indulgent" ways. (Tabloids pointed out that they had flown on his private jet instead of taking regular chartered flights). The singer explained that he and Prince Harry have had a decades-long friendship, and that he had offered his plane for their protection and privacy.
Talk show host Ellen Degeneres stood in solidarity with Meghan when it was announced that she would be suing tabloids. She spoke about how it was time to realize just how much scrutiny they're under, and how taking measures to protect themselves was a reasonable move. Her guest at the time, polo player Nacho Figueras who introduced the royal couple to Ellen, gave his support, too.
He said, "We should be treating them as heroes. These guys are taking their time to make the world a better place, and they're all fighting for us. Instead of us praising them, and loving them, and cheering them up, we are attacking them. So, it's a shame."
African-British actress Jameela Jamil was much more direct and simply asked Meghan's critics to just admit that they don't like her because she's black.
Ugh. Dear England and English press, just say you hate her because she’s black, and him for marrying a black woman and be done with it God dammit. Your bullying is so embarrassing and obvious. You’ve all lost your marbles. It’s 2019. Grow up. https://t.co/OMwwRU31p9— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) August 20, 2019
George Clooney, who is married to human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, also took the time to speak up about the issue and called Meghan's tabloid treatment "unjust." Like Prince Harry, he compared her experience as what the late Princess Diana had gone through.
‘It seemed a little unjust, she hasn’t done anything except live her life - she’s a really kind, intelligent woman.’— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 15, 2019
George Clooney has told @GMB Meghan and Harry are a 'fun couple' and says Meghan's treatment has been ‘a little unfair’.
More from our chat later in the show. pic.twitter.com/hEa46PleGf
Outspoken singer Pink also shared her own two cents on the issue on Twitter and requested that people all try to be kinder towards each other.
I’m happy to see people coming to the defense of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while. It’s out of control. Let’s all be a bit kinder, huh? Let’s show our children that it’s cool to be kind.— P!nk (@Pink) August 20, 2019
The latest news to come out of this saga is how tabloids will respond to the legal actions filed against them.
Will they finally let Meghan have her peace, or will they continue their tirade against her?
Photos from @sussexroyal