Meghan Markle fulfilled the dreams of many when she went from average American actress to real-life princess—or Duchess of Sussex to be exact—when she married Prince Harry in May of 2018. After acclimating to the life of British royalty and welcoming baby Archie into the world, the couple has recently made headlines for their decision to step down as senior members of the Royal Family, which has yet again garnered negative media coverage of Markle. As an outsider to the Royal lifestyle, British media has attacked her time and time again for her differences, picking apart her actions and attributing faults to her race, nationality and lifestyle. These media attacks are not only unfair but unjust, promoting a culture of claims based on implicit biases.
Even before their marriage, Prince Harry expressed disappointment multiple times in the British media’s harassment of Markle and publicly stated his fear for her safety, frustrated that he is unable to protect her. Protecting family is clearly a top priority for the prince, as he emphasized his struggle in a press conference following the announcement of his family’s step back. Claiming he had “no other option” Prince Harry makes it clear that to ensure the safety of his wife and son, life as a royal is no longer an option. After the death of his mother Princess Diana, Harry clearly has anxiety around the dangers of public life fearing history may repeat itself — and rightfully so.
Although the choice was made jointly by both Meghan and Harry, the media yet again places the blame squarely on Meghan’s shoulders. British journalist Piers Morgan claimed Markle has “split [Harry] from the Royal family," and is not alone in his opinion. Others have shared their negative thoughts in the comments section, representing an angry British population mainly pointing fingers at Markle.
“Even as someone not connected to the royals or the UK, I see articles tearing her apart, and I feel for her,” said freshman health and human Science major Tyler Johnson. “We see the media do the same thing in America too—dehumanizing celebrities—and it’s just not okay.”
Reading between the lines of her intense media scrutiny, this is an issue of differences. In a raw interview with ITV News, Markle shared the hardships through her time in the spotlight, and the struggle is not only evident through her words but in her expression — looking almost tearfully at the camera. She shares that “this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip” has been challenging to adopt, only adding to the given difficulties of beginning a marriage and having a newborn. She shares that “not many people have asked if I’m okay” and adds that dealing with her new lifestyle and intense media scrutiny is a “very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
The royals are not the only celebrities calling out a racist media culture, as Stormzy, a popular Black British rapper, has spoken out publicly against the media and their offensive criticism of Markle and other biracial celebrities. In an interview with Antonello Guerrara, Stormzy is asked if Britain is still racist today, to which he responds “Definitely, 100%.”
“I feel like there should be less backlash because it’s almost equivalent to a Hollywood couple saying they're gonna step out of the spotlight and focus on family,” said sophomore history major Andrew Dow.
Simply put, British media must do better to base their arguments not in judgment but in fact. Respectable UK news sources are acting more and more like tabloids and must remember that as precedent setters for the public, attacking Markle based on race, past choices and career creates a culture of implicit biases and unacceptable treatment.
This is the opinion of Riley Hetherington, a freshman communication studies major from San Diego, California. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.