Megxit: the blaming of Meghan Markle for the Royal Retirement is misogyny at work
09th Jan 2020
As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle prepare to step back from senior royal duties, public opinion yet again blames the Duchess for the couple’s actions
“Destroying the royal family”. “Evil and insidious”. “A sociopath”.
By now, Meghan Markle must be used to this type of abuse for simply existing as part of the royal family. Since marrying Prince Harry in 2018, the couple has dealt with a near-constant onslaught of vicious criticism from the tabloids of Britain — and even now, at their decision to step back from royal duties, it shows no sign of slowing.
Markle’s crimes, according to the royal-loving British public, are plenty – ‘she’s stuck up’; ‘she’s tacky’; ‘she seeks to destroy the royal family’; ‘she spends too much money’; ‘she’s lazy’. In reality, her crimes amount to just one — being an American woman of colour.
Harry, on the other hand, escapes most of the criticism aimed at his marriage — in the eyes of the public, their prince is an innocent bystander; a victim of Markle’s insidious evil workings. They fail to remember the history behind Harry’s position in the royal family, and to understand the possibility that Harry doesn’t actually adore his job as the Duke of Sussex.
The stereotype of the ‘difficult woman’
Although Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back from the royal family is a landmark one, how often have we seen a similar narrative when it comes to powerful couples? The amiable man and the difficult woman — the innocent and the calculating always seem to fall on the same sides. Our attitudes towards famous partnerships always follow the same formula — that a man is to be pitied, and a woman to be scrutinised.
This idea that a man of this level of power has no agency over his decisions, and falls prey to his predatory wife, is rooted in misogyny, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. Is it really feasible that a semi-successful actress like Meghan Markle could plot and succeed in bringing down the entirety of the British monarchy without a word of protest from her husband, a literal prince of England? But logic doesn’t fit the narrative — we love to find a figure to hate, and conveniently often, that figure is a woman.
If we look at Harry and Meghan’s marriage, and the steps that lead to this decision, it is Harry’s history that influences their decisions, not Meghan’s. Harry lived his life from the age of 12 without a mother, knowing that Diana’s short life was marred by the press’s vicious and incessant interest in her. He has dedicated most of his life to charity work, in memory of Diana’s activism.
In 2019, Harry made the decision to sue the Mail on Sunday over its decision to publish a private letter written by Meghan to her father. In a statement, Harry referred to the dangers of the tabloid press, saying “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.”
And yet. This morning, we wake up to the couple dominating the front pages yet again. But to whom is the vitriol directed? Meghan Markle, the American-born black woman who dared to marry a prince.
The stiff upper lip
In an ITV documentary that aired late last year on the royal couple, Markle discussed for the first time how difficult living under constant attack from the press has been. She said “it’s not enough to just survive something, right? That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy.
I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried. But I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging.”
Asking for happiness is not the mark of an evil sociopath, contrary to what the British tabloids may say. Even in their departure from the crown, Meghan and Harry will be forced to play their roles of difficult woman and manipulated husband. I’m sure, like us, they’re looking forward to giving up the costumes.
Read more: Breaking: Harry and Meghan to step back as senior royals
Read more: 2019’s most powerful dresser: 8 of Meghan Markle’s best royal looks
Read more: 7 of the most intriguing (and talked about) celebrity stories of 2019
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