Why Is Meghan Markle’s Story so Polarizing?

A week ago, Meghan and Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, revealed the big secret. Even if you’re not into drama, the interview with Oprah was all over mainstream media. So, you couldn’t help but notice it.

I didn’t think I’d watch it. But here we are. I’ve watched it three times. And I’ve read more on the British royals than ever before in my life.

So, why did I spend several days obsessing over something that rarely interests me?

And why did I feel like had to pick sides when I don’t know and never will know any of these people?

I now consider myself to be a semi-professional royal expert. And here’s my unbiased (as much as that’s possible) take on the interview.

Allegations of Racism Cannot Be Overlooked

To be honest, I didn’t know the entire story surrounding the last year’s Megxit. My general knowledge of the British royal family is vague. I just watch their weddings. That’s it.

But there’re certain things Meghan told Oprah that we can’t ignore. Whether or not you’re siding with Meghan, the racism she’s been exposed to is real.  

Colonialism and white supremacy are deeply embedded in the British monarchy. Meghan’s and Harry’s accusations don’t seem that surprising.

The public, especially in Britain, insists that we need context to determine if the remark on Archie’s skin color was racist or not.

Also, Meghan and Harry refused to give Oprah the name of the royal family member who made the comment about Archie. From what they claim, you get the impression that the entire Palace is racist. So, yeah, the Sussexes need to provide evidence to prove such serious allegations.

One important thing to keep in mind. Rich people aren’t immune to racial discrimination. It doesn’t go away when you reach a certain net worth.

And I wasn’t shocked at how much hate she got for addressing a topic around which we all should be united. Sad, isn’t it?

“She’s a Millionaire, so What Is She Complaining About?!”

Besides racism accusations, the saddest revelation was Meghan’s mental health struggle.

So, you’ve got two groups of people. Those who call Meghan a spoiled princess and those who celebrate her courage to speak openly about depression.

Yes, famous and wealthy people have access to resources that ordinary people will never have. Yes, wealthy people don’t have to worry about losing a job or paying off a mortgage. But they have their own problems. And that we can’t relate to their struggles doesn’t make these struggles less valid.

In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 15 to 24. The black community identifies with Meghan. Women of color in particular. That’s why her vulnerability is so important. It leaves room for others to seek help as well.

While doing research for this interview, I thought I’d get diarrhea. Bunch of white guys telling her to grow up. Using Donald Trump’s words as proof that she’s a hysterical princess. Yeah, he’s the first person you refer to when talking about racism and sexism.

Can white men be more stupid? Again, I’m not one to generalize, but what else can I say after reading something like that?

And you know what, this is the part where I refuse to stay unbiased. Conversations about mental health and suicide need to be normalized.

Media Scrutiny Is One Thing, Blatant Abuse Is Another

Over the past few days, I’ve come across some stupid stuff about Meghan in the tabloids. Sometimes it nicely wrapped up, sometimes it was straight-up racism.

Back in 2016, when Meghan and Harry went public with their relationship, the media immediately started firing at Meghan. Harry then issued a statement defending her.

Marrying a Prince comes at the cost of losing privacy. That much is clear. Every royal family member has at some point been trashed by the tabloids.

So Meghan was supposed to know what she was getting herself into?

Yeah, racist abuse from the British media isn’t something you can prepare yourself for.

The Palace rarely reacts to every rumor that surfaces in the gossip columns. Still, the level of harassment Meghan was facing doesn’t even come close to some harmless celebrity gossip.

And let’s not forget what happened when Prince Andrew’s ties with Jeffrey Epstein were discovered in 2015. The Palace then supported him.

And the whole narrative of whether Kate made Meghan cry or Kate made Meghan cry doesn’t seem important. Weddings are stressful, right?

But it becomes relevant when the whole idea of that story was to add even more fuel to the existing intolerance towards Meghan.

British Royal Family and What It Represents

Queen Elizabeth is the longest-living British Monarch in a world that perceives the royal family as a waste of taxpayer’s money. For some British people, the Windsors are a sense of stability in a fast-changing world.

And when those who symbolize the British national identity move across the pond, expect people to get angry.

One thing that makes the British royal family so intriguing is that we don’t get to see what happens behind the curtains. The royals come across as cold and stiff. They can’t allow themselves to get into political debates. Their public appearances are perfectly thought out.

Meghan Markle, an American actress, used to freedom and independence. The British royals, a centuries-old institution with its own firm rules based on tradition.

Resolution of a cultural conflict could’ve been a way to modernize the Monarchy.

Clearly, Meghan has shattered the tradition. Though she isn’t the first biracial woman to enter the British royal family, her marriage to Prince Harry plays a significant role in today’s social climate.

The Royal Rift Makes Meghan and Harry Popular

To find happiness away from the public eye, Meghan and Harry began a new life in California.

They’ve signed deals with Netflix and Spotify worth millions of dollars. They’ve even founded two companies, Archwell Productions, and Archwell Audio.

Can we accuse them of being hypocrites for wanting privacy and then sitting down with Oprah Winfrey?

I can agree on that, sure.

They had Tyler Perry helping them when they first came to the USA. In reality, leaving a dysfunctional family isn’t such smooth sailing for most people.

And Harry talking about being cut off while still being rich is hard to empathize with. When so many people are affected by the COVID crisis, it just comes off as privileged winning.

But let’s be real. We won’t be talking about it for long. In a week or two, something else will grab our attention. They stepped down as active royals but already gained a Hollywood celebrity status. And if they want to stay relevant in the American show business industry, they’ve got some work to do.

Whatever they do from now on, we’ll always associate their private ventures with the split from the Royal family.    

Their Version of the Story Has Some Holes

Her words revealed some disturbing stuff about the royal family, Meghan has said certain things that just don’t add up.

She claimed she didn’t do any research on Harry before meeting the family. Are you telling me she never googled him? Impossible.

And about Archie not being a prince?

According to the 1971 patent declared by King George V, not all Queen’s great-grandchildren are made princes and princesses. The exception is the oldest male grandchild of Charles, the Prince of Wales. Here, that’s Prince George, William’s first son.

Prince William’s kids get the titles by default, as he is the oldest son of Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales and the future British monarch). Had Meghan and Harry kept their royal status, their son would have become a prince the moment Charles took the throne.

Meghan insisted she received no guidance on what it means to be a senior royal. That is unlikely since she had a private secretary, Samantha Cohen, who was also in charge of her royal training.

Meghan said she felt lonely. She was battling depression. And I believe her.

What blows my mind is that she didn’t get the help she needed, as she says. Harry himself has spent years in therapy to cope with Diana’s death. Diana was treated for bulimia and postpartum depression. Even Charles has sought help for his mental health problems. So, if others got help, why didn’t she?

The last thing that doesn’t sit well with me is forcing a comparison with Princess Diana.

I understand Harry’s concern of history repeating itself, but I got the impression that they were deliberately drawing parallels between Meghan and Diana to gain sympathy.

And, of course, the Crown had to be referenced.

It All Comes Down to Storytelling

Make of it what you will, but Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry is an example of fine storytelling.

Meghan has stated she wanted people to know the truth. But that’s the problem with speaking your truth. It’s just one side of the story. And in this case, a very controversial story.

As for people who she hoped would hear the truth, whether she was trying to appeal to the masses or confront the royal family, leaving a royal family isn’t a very relatable thing. We’re here for the juicy stuff.

When elites go public with private details, as Meghan and Harry did, they can’t expect some grand level of understanding and compassion. We feel for them, but then we move on with our lives.

The point of sensational storytelling is to stir up some feelings. That’s why we are so engaged in celebrity drama. And whenever things get heated, people pick sides.

Meghan’s story is powerful. But it’s just one part of a much bigger story. And we may never know the whole truth.


Cover image: by Gabriel on Unsplash