Sunday, April 5, 2020
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A Royal Dreading

Graphic by Toan Truong

It was less than two years ago when the world gathered around to watch the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and former actress Meghan Markle. Royal weddings have always been a fascination amongst the public, but during this particular union, tradition was compromised. This arrangement was the first time a member of British royalty was marrying an American divorcée. Particularly, marrying a half Caucasian, half African-American divorcée. If this had been any other wedding, no one would have batted an eye, but that’s the thing: it’s the royal family, whose bloodline has always remained … white.  But this leads us to one question: did we see this coming?

Since the 2018 wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have made great strides towards strengthening the commonwealth in addition to starting their own family. But just like the hair on Prince Harry’s head, things have been quite patchy along the way.

In a recently announced official statement by the couple themselves, they declared that they are in the works of renouncing their titles of His and Her Royal Highness, respectively. What this entails is the couple stepping back from official royal duties, and live a life independent from the royal family, without state funding. They intend to move to Canada and, ultimately, make an effort to split their time between there and the U.K. Of course, with this bombshell, tabloids and the public are desperate for answers, coining this phenomenon as “Megxit” to keep track of the debacle. 

On Jan. 19, Prince Harry commented on his decision to step back during a speech given at a dinner event for his own charity, Sentebale. The seven minute speech gave insight as to what this would mean for the future, but more importantly cited why the decision was necessary, claiming “there was no other option.” Furthermore, Harry briefly mentioned his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, during the speech, thanking the public for showing him love ever since her untimely death. However, along with this, he added how “the media is a powerful force,” which reveals perhaps one of the biggest driving forces to cut royal ties.

There is something sinister about British tabloids that we Americans seem to be unable to comprehend. Sure, we have had our fair share of American tabloids ruining people’s lives, such as pop star Britney Spears, but the manner in which British media so blatantly invades and judges people’s lives really shows how little regard they have towards their targets. Some would argue that Princess Diana’s death was attributed to her driver being under the influence. But putting things into context, they were being tailed by paparazzi on motorcycles, a case that arguably would cause anyone to speed up. For the time being, Diana’s death was a reminder to the public about how dangerous British media was. But flash forward to the Duchess of Sussex, and you can see that we are back to square one.

There is deep-rooted racism that exists within the U.K. While it is great to see people are slowly becoming more progressive within recent generations, it unfortunately still exists—sometimes within people who refuse to acknowledge it. At least with British media, one of the easiest ways to dissect racism is to simply compare the treatment between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. More often than not, you will see headlines praising anything Middleton does, but chastising Markle for doing the exact same thing. 

Headlines courtesy of Daily Express

It seems that no matter what the Duchess of Sussex tries to do, she will never be able to win over the media. This makes it plain to see why the couple wants to leave that environment. With the announcement of the Duke and Duchess’s departure, many were quick to accuse Markle of manipulating and trying to isolate Harry from his own family. In reality, these are two grown adults who are capable of making their own decisions. 

It’s hard for people who are not in Markle’s shoes to understand the hardships she has had to endure. For people who live in the U.K., I would assume racism would also be a concept not many have had first-hand experience with. Regardless, this is about a human being’s life being scrutinized in every move she makes, and I think that is something we all can sympathize with. The British can blame Markle all they want for her and Harry’s decision to step back, but things would have played out much differently had the media and a percentage of the public been a little more welcoming and considerate.

As for what the future holds, Markle has recently signed a deal with Disney to do voiceovers for their projects, and it seems Prince Harry will still very much be involved with his charities and honoring his duties through humanitarian work. Aside from this, they also have their eight-month-old son, Archie, who will be the first child to be raised outside of the royal family. Only time will tell whether or not leaving the family was the right call, but it is through this that shows how deep their love runs for each other.

Toan Truong is a third year Psychological Science major and Criminology, Law & Society minor. He can be reached at toanat@uci.edu