George Clooney has spoken out about the treatment of the Duchess of Sussex in the press, comparing her to Princess Diana in the way she was once “vilified.”
“I do want to say, I just saw this piece,” Clooney told Sky News, referring to the now-published private letter that Meghan wrote to her father Thomas Markle. “They’re just chasing Meghan everywhere, she’s being pursued and vilified.”
“She’s a woman who is seven months pregnant and she is being pursued and vilified and chased in the same way that Diana was, and it’s history repeating itself. And we’ve seen how that ends.”
Related: Will we ever stop pitting Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton against each other?
He is not wrong.
Princess Diana was pursued so relentlessly by the press that this almost certainly contributed to her tragic death (she was being chased by paparazzi at the time). She had gone from being the People’s Princess to her every move being dissected in a manner that was presented most unfavourably by many tabloids.
The similarities to Markle are obvious. But this wasn’t always so.
Remember when this all began?
Before being officially made a member of the royal family, she was welcomed by the press; a modern princess who would turn the monarchy on its head. Kate went from being the darling of the press to a woman who was “old-fashioned” in comparison.
Related: Kensington Palace spends ‘hours’ tackling online abuse and threats towards Kate and Meghan
Both women are constantly pitted against each other, something Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York has said also happened to her and Diana.
“Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt.”
The tide has now turned. Markle is difficult. She does her own thing too much. She cradles her pregnancy bump too much. She’s the reason Kensington palace staff have walked out.
Related: Sarah Ferguson talks Princess Diana and “happy divorce” in her first full interview in 20 years
And it’s as recent as the BAFTA coverage at the weekend. The Duchess of Cambridge was described as an “angel” in her one-shoulder dress, just weeks after Meghan Markle was deemed “controversial” for doing the same.
“Kate Middleton was a modern princess in a white one-shoulder gown at the 2019 BAFTAs,” noted one.
“Kate Middleton looks stunning in a one-shoulder dress at BAFTAS,” said another.
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Whereas in Markle’s case, when she stepped out in a similar one-shouldered gown at the British Fashion Awards last year, her choice was called “vulgar” and she was chastised by almost every tabloid for breaking royal protocol AGAIN.
Belgravia Bugle, an author and etiquette tutor, was even invited to speak about the Duchess of Sussex’s “controversial” behaviour on Channel 5 News.
“She’s a new member of the Royal Family, a controversial member,” said Bugle. “I think I would be more careful.”
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A photo was even taken down of Markle that same evening, when the Fashion Council shared a picture which was taken backstage alongside Clare Waight Keller, her wedding dress designer and actress Rosamund Pike.
The women were posing for the photo booth style snap with Meghan’s hand resting on her baby bump as she looked over her shoulder.
According to MailOnline, a source said that the pose was “ostentatious” and with her daring dress and dark nail polish, it was breaking a “lot of royal fashion rules.”
Yer Kate is an “angel” dressed in white and Meghan deemed “vulgar” wearing a dark gown of similar design. Even though the royal family have all dressed in similar designs over the years.
The Queen and Duchess Kate have also worn one shoulder, so maybe, GET A LIFE pic.twitter.com/Ivlub3Dcrs
— Tulsi Patel (@tulsicp) December 12, 2018
Why is it different rules for both women?
It’s quite clear the media are afraid of Meghan; a self-assured woman who questions protocol and remains herself, even while in the royal family. We know that as soon as a woman steps outside her expected norms, the backlash can start – you’re allowed to for a while (as she did in the beginning) but continue in a way which isn’t the societal standard and it asks for trouble.
Markle is being punished for acting in ways that defy the norms of a female stereotype; for not taking the ‘safe’ route.
More power to her.
We could all use a little more Markle defiance in our lives.