Meghan Markle and the hypocritical media reporting of the royal family

If the British media's treatment of Meghan Markle has told us anything in recent months, it's that little has changed since the tragic death of Princess Diana. The press had an agenda when it came to Diana; this rippled down to much of the young women in the monarchy - right up to Markle in 2019. The men, however, are largely left alone. 

The Duchess of Sussex just can't catch a break. She's cold, the 'other' in the royal family; shunned for keeping her family out of the public eye as much as possible, for not openly welcoming the media which have subjected her to racist, smear campaigns from the very beginning.

She can never put a foot right it seems. She courts the press at her own will, is what the columns say. Spending millions refurbishing a cottage yet keeping her royal christening a private affair - the nerve. That wasn't the way Will and Kate went about things. They didn't break protocol. You can almost hear the sneering.

George Clooney was right; Meghan Markle is being vilified. We've seen it before, seen how it ends with the tragic, untimely loss of the Princess of Wales. She longed for acceptance from the public and the press, Diana wanted to be liked. But, like Markle, she didn't conform. She went her own way. And we know people say the opposite, but all evidence suggests that no one likes a rebellious royal. Certainly not the media.


Related: Priyanka Chopra is right to call out the racist treatment of Meghan Markle

The difference here, and no doubt the reason that Markle has rubbed much of the press up the wrong way, is because she doesn't care if you like her or not. She'll do things firmly with her stamp on them, regardless of protocol. Share photos only if and when she chooses. Say no to photos at Wimbledon because she's allowed, considering she spends much of her every day smiling for a camera.

She lives a life of privilege but she is still entitled to say no without automatically reaping the nasty repercussions of the media.

Even in an era of #MeToo, the sight of a strong-willed woman not giving a damn is enough to make blood boil.

She can't be controlled, so she must be put in her place, is the subtext of every unkind story.

A royal pattern   

It began long before Markle, of course. Sarah Ferguson said the same of her perceived friendship with Diana. According to the media at the time, it was always based on a rivalry. "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," Ferguson wrote in an open letter earlier this year.


Related: Kensington Palace spends 'hours' tackling online abuse and threats towards Kate and Meghan

Meghan vs Kate is the modern-day narrative in 2019. In fact, earlier this year, it was all the press could talk about. Two women, "normal" enough women, who became real-life princesses before our very eyes. Who looked better? Who had better hair? Who smiled more? Who kept to royal protocol? Who simply seems more genuine? They're not even individuals anymore; you can say "Meghan vs Kate" in a single breath, and everyone will know who you mean, just as everyone will note that you must pick one above the other.

Look back at the royal reporting of years gone by and you'll see it was always the women who took the blows. 

Look at Tudor history as a starting example. It couldn't have been King Henry who was obsessed and selfish, beheading and remarrying Queens at will. It must have been his wives at fault.

What about the men of the monarchy? 


Now, look at 2019 and a few years back. Remember when Prince Harry caused a scene in Las Vegas? The 'boys will be boys' commentary was rife. There was some teasing, naturally, but all was forgiven. Rumours of infidelity on Prince William's side is only whispered about, but Markle gets grief because she was married and divorced before her wedding to Harry.

Prince Andrew has also been at the centre of some highly unflattering rumours, but still, all I read about is what colour Kate wore to Wimbledon or why Meghan was a "nightmare". Both women are subjected to daily bouts of racism and classism by parts of the media; even Buckingham Palace has had to step in.

And yet.


Though she is fighting back. She isn't letting them get away with it, and she has support.

But if her narrative is to change, we know, just as she knows, that ultimately, she'll have to fight the fight herself.

Main photograph: @accessonline

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