Hurricane Meghan | Liam Rosenberg
To be a racist or not to be one, that is the question — at least for the royal family, as of late. Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah, which aired on March 7, was both damaging and illuminating as it brought to light many instances of the Windsors’ alleged racial prejudice. Taking Markle’s comments at face value, one would deduce that her pregnancy was wrought with concern over her son’s skin color. Markle also expresses to Oprah how one member of the family, in particular, was most troubled by her son’s mixed race heritage. The pressure then became so immense that she even considered suicide.
These serious allegations are not to be brushed aside. Their implications are to a scale not seen since the tragic premature death of Princess Diana, nearly three decades ago. The current tabloid frenzy surrounding Markle is viewed by many as a parallel to this. The British media just can’t get enough of her, and are keen on portraying the ex-royal in as dreadful a manner as possible. Searching her name on the Sun’s online website returns over nine hundred pages of what is arguably vitriolic abuse. In comparison, Duchess Kate Middleton only received half of this media attention, despite belonging to the royal family for nearly ten years.
While the media attention devoted to Markle is certainly disconcerting, the assertion that the pressure of mere existence was too much to bear is a completely different scenario altogether. In response to her claims, we’ve seen a variety of emotion from Britons and Americans alike. If anything, media personality Piers Morgan’s tempestuous resignation from Good Morning Britain over the matter is exemplary of just how divisive it has become. ICYMI, an indignant Morgan proclaimed that he “didn’t believe a word [Markle] said”. Echoing his sentiment was fellow British grandstander Sharon Osbourne.
However, is it that far fetched to doubt Markle’s claims? Many have argued that the former actress’ interview was simply another performance: a ploy to win over cooing Americans’ hearts and to leave callous Britons in the dust. In fact, a recent YouGov poll revealed just that — according to the Telegraph, the loyalties of over two-thirds of the U.K. public still lie with the Queen, or neither the royal family nor Markle and Prince Harry. A farce of this proportion would be career-ending.
One topic that has been habitually discussed among pundits across the pond for years, though, is the implicit racial bias exhibited by the royal family. Despite a certain fancy attributed to both families, the Windsors are not the Kardashians. Behind the tiaraed gowns, private retreats to the African savanna, and intense polo matches lies a storied past rooted in over a thousand years of conquest, genocide, and strife.
Make no mistake, the royal family is assuredly deserving of this media attention — but when assessing the veracity of Markle’s allegations of racism, one should consider who it is that we are dealing with. The fact is that there has never been an undoubtedly black royal before, and that those accused of mixed heritage were dogged for years. Duchess Kate even sparked controversy among some circles for her mother’s Jewish-sounding maiden name. So then, are Markle’s affirmations even half as exceptional?