Did Meghan Markle Make A Mistake By Marrying Prince Harry?
The Duchess of Sussex has faced insurmountable criticism since being linked to Prince Harry in 2016 and even well-beyond their wedding
There is perhaps nothing more heartbreaking than that clip of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, responding to a reporter’s question about her emotional and mental well-being. In an interview with Tom Bradby for the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan holds back tears as she thanks Bradby for asking her about her mental health. “Thank you for asking,” she had said. “Not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Even before marrying Prince Harry in May of 2018, the Duchess had been facing a worrying and steady amount of criticism and harassment from British tabloids. The coverage surrounding her had always been tinged with prejudice and racist undertones, with thinly-veiled attacks masquerading as journalism. Even prior to becoming an official member of the Royal Family, Meghan had been painted in a bad light. In November of 2016, five months since they began dating, Harry already had to release a statement pleading the media to stop the “wave of abuse and harassment.”
His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public - the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.
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This evening, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the annual #WellChildAwards in London. WellChild aims to ensure every child and young person living with serious health needs has the best chance to thrive with the support and medical care needed in the comfort of their own home. The Duke of Sussex became Patron of WellChild in 2007, and last year both The Duke and Duchess attended the awards to honour the children and families that WellChild supports. The Duke, who first came to these awards over a decade ago, shared in his remarks tonight: “Last year when my wife and I attended we knew we were expecting our first child - no one else did at the time, but we did - and I remember squeezing Meghan’s hand so tightly during the awards, both of us thinking what it would be like to be parents one day, and more so, what it would be like to do everything we could to protect and help our child should they be born with immediate challenges or become unwell over time. And now, as parents, being here and speaking to all of you pulls at my heart strings in a way I could have never understood until I had a child of my own.” • To find out more about tonight’s event and how you can support this very special organisation, please visit @WellChild Photos ©️ PA images
Most recently, public figures—including Hillary Clinton, The Crown star and Oscar winner Olivia Colman, and 72 female members of British Parliament—have spoken up about the British press’ callous reporting when it comes to the Duchess. This, now, is the question many people have: Did the Duchess of Sussex make a mistake by marrying into the Royal Family?
Meghan, after all, is by no means the first American actress to marry a prince. We only need to turn to Grace Kelly, a classic Hollywood film star known for her work in several Alfred Hitchcock films, who had retired before the age of 30 in order to marry Prince Rainier III in 1956. She would become Princess of Monaco, becoming the Prince’s consort for twenty-four years until her death. Meghan, on the other hand, was most known as Rachel Zane on Suits and for her lifestyle website The Tig before she met Harry.
The Duchess, who graduated from Northwestern University, has enjoyed a considerable amount of success in her time as an actress—she’d been on Suits for six years and has appeared on shows like Castle, Fringe, and Without a Trace. But aside from acting, she is an outspoken feminist who’s always been involved in charity work, particularly women empowerment. As a counselor of One Young World, she spoke at its 2014 summit in Dublin about gender inequality and modern-day slavery. In 2016, she wrote an op-ed for Time magazine about the stigma against women and menstrual health.
She has always been an influential woman who uses her platform to speak out about issues she cares about. Her lifestyle website, The Tig, which shuttered in April of 2017, also featured a column, “Tig Walk With,” that profiled influential women, including Serena Williams, Emmy Rossum, and Dianna Agron. She certainly didn’t need a prince in order to do the work she’d long been doing. Meeting and falling in love with Harry can’t be compared to a marketing decision, or a way out of an ordinary life. Meghan’s life, even pre-Harry, has always been extraordinary.
Navigating a newfound identity as a Duchess in one of the most powerful families in the world is not an easy task. Meghan’s eyes said it all in that ITV interview: “Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” Meghan remarked when she was asked about how she’s managed to deal with becoming a wife, a mother, and a highly-scrutinized public figure. Meghan also revealed that she was warned by her British friends not to marry the Prince because of the “intense media scrutiny” it involves.
But Meghan had been naive. In the same interview, Meghan shared just how she’d waved away those warnings. Being an American, the Duchess had been truly unaware of how the British press operated—and just how nasty they could be. “I never thought this would be easy but I thought it would be fair. And that is the part that is hard to reconcile,” Meghan told Bradby. “But I just take each day as it comes.”
Were the signs there in the beginning? Was this relationship or marriage doomed from the start, with their difference in status, in nationalities, and in the way they had gotten engaged after dating for a year and a half? Perhaps so, but the couple doesn’t seem to be having any problems with each other. Harry has always tried to protect his wife, and Meghan has always turned to her husband as a pillar of strength, even lovingly calling him "H." It’s always been Harry and Meghan against the world, with the world being the British media.
2016, despite being only three years ago, feels like it’s eons away. For followers of all things royal, Meghan and Harry’s beginnings feel like a distant memory now. The pair has always been in the center of unfavorable media coverage, especially with their royal blunders and faux pas, but even in the early days of their relationship, they’ve already had to deal with a lot of critiques. Whether or not the Duchess “made a mistake” in marrying Harry, in not listening to her friends’ warnings and in choosing this very public life, she shouldn’t be faulted, lest we add to the ever-growing number of criticisms against her.
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Last month, The Duchess of Sussex surprised Smart Works clients during the capsule collection shoot in west London…Today, The Duchess, alongside @SmartWorksCharity - in partnership with @InsideJigsaw, @JohnLewisandPartners, @MarksandSpencer and @MishaNonoo - are incredibly proud to reveal to everyone, #TheSmartSet - a five piece capsule collection that will equip the Smart Works clients with the classic wardrobe pieces to help them feel confident as they mobilise back into the work space. • “Since moving to the UK, it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organisations on the ground doing meaningful work and to try to do whatever I can to help them amplify their impact. It was just last September that we launched the ‘Together’ cookbook with the women of the Hubb Kitchen in Grenfell. Today, a year later, I am excited to celebrate the launch of another initiative of women supporting women, and communities working together for the greater good. Thank you to the four brands who came together in supporting Smart Works on this special project - placing purpose over profit and community over competition. In convening several companies rather than one, we’ve demonstrated how we can work collectively to empower each other - another layer to this communal success story, that I am so proud to be a part of” - The Duchess of Sussex The collection – which features a shirt, trousers, blazer, dress and tote bag – will be on sale for two weeks starting today, with the objective of selling enough units to give Smart Works the essentials they need to help dress clients for the coming year! For every item bought during the sale of the collection, one will be donated to Smart Works, this 1:1 model allows customers to directly support the Smart Works women by playing a part in their success story - how they look and more importantly, how they feel. Photo © @JennyZarins
She, after all, has been doing exemplary work for the causes she believes in—women empowerment, mental health awareness, children’s rights, and more—and her platform has just grown larger and larger since. Here is a woman—intelligent, sophisticated, and big-hearted—who had fallen in love with a man who had just so happened to be a prince. We’ve all read it; we’ve all seen it in the movies. It’s a fairy tale come true—it’s surely been dubbed that way in the beginning—but it’s the 21st century in the age of social and digital media, and this woman just became part of the most watched, most high-profile, most influential family in the world.
The problem, perhaps, isn’t in marrying Harry; it’s in the rabid public and the media’s growing need to tear down a powerful woman of color.
Photos from @sussexroyal