Americans don’t really get the royals. This idea that some people are better than others on account of birthright perplexes us. Of late, the concept appears to be confusing the English Prince Harry, as well, as he seems to stoop under the weight of his privilege. But no one seems more bewildered by the notion of being above all the peasants than American Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
From her humble beginnings, to her stint in Hollywood, to becoming a princess (is a princess the same thing as a duchess? Nevermind, I don’t really care) by marrying Prince Harry, and giving birth to his heir Archie, Meghan has been taking heavy hits from Britain’s notorious tabloid media. They criticize her for arrogance, hypocrisy, and even for wearing the same garment twice. But what really seems to get under the duchess’s skin is when the press spreads rumors about the royal family — notably, a perceived beef between Prince William’s family and Prince Harry’s.
Rumors that Meghan and her ill-bred American ways have been causing trouble with the royal in-laws have been floating around ever since the wedding. First there was some kind of tussle over a tiara and housing arrangements during the mansion’s renovation. Then there was something about how Meghan was getting between the brothers. Y’know, your basic in-law squabbles.
Last Christmas, the tabloids read way into the Christmas cards the two brothers’ families released, as though this alone was an indication of a deep disagreement between the two. There were stories about a secret meeting wherein the duchess of Cambridge drove herself (she drove herself, folks, if you can believe it) to the castle to consult with the queen on the Meghan problem. There’s been turnover in royal staff, blamed on Meghan’s presence, and all kinds of reading between the lines on the body language of the two families during public engagements.
Being a Royal Will Cost You
It’s like the tabloids were just looking for something divisive to write about, like that’s the entire raison d’etre of the tabloid industry. Who knew the British media would find fault with a divorced American actress making a home with the British royals? After all, the last American divorcee to marry into the family didn’t result in her betrothed abdicating the throne or anything.
British tabloids were the original Twitter trolls and YouTube commenters, but in smudgy ink on news stands. And yeah, Americans have a long history of disrupting royalty.
Meghan finds the whole thing really traumatizing. Sources close to her have supposedly said Meghan has “always relied on her own voice to stand up for others, and for herself. So not being able to say anything is a debilitating feeling. … She’s always been so independent, her entire life, and that’s all been taken away from her. She’s always been able to clap back on social media, and now she can’t.”
Well, yeah, that’s the deal when you turn over your freedom. Everyone knows that when you give up your fins for legs, you lose your voice. The same goes for giving up your basic American rights to live in a palace. No more social media rants for the poor little princess.
The Media Is Showing Both Sides of Meghan’s Story
The BBC followed the royal pair on their state trip to Africa, in a little documentary called “Harry and Meghan: An African Journey.” This trip had a distinctly social justice bent. Prince Harry walked the same Angola roads his mother did more than 20 years before when she brought attention to the problem of landmines in the region, remnants from a bloody civil war. He continues her work, and he saw the fruits of these decades of efforts to make Angola a better place.
While in South Africa, Meghan spoke to the BBC about the difficulties she has faced in the pages of the British tabloid press. In a beautiful, green lawn, the reporter and Meghan spoke candidly.
“What has the last year been like?” the reporter asked.
Meghan replied softly: “It’s um, hard. I don’t think anybody could understand that, but in all fairness, I had no idea. Which probably sounds difficult to understand here. When I first met my husband, I was happy. … But my British friends said to me, you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life. But I’m American, we don’t have that.”
That’s right. We don’t. We have celebrities, not royals, and celebs are not bound by any code of conduct but their own. They can say and do as they please, and while they may reap what they sow in tabloid headlines, they can always clap back some more.
“The pressure you’re under has been obvious. … Can you put up with this?” the reporter questioned.
Meghan responded, “I’ve said for a long time to H … 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 be happy, and I’ve tried to adopt this sensibility of a stiff upper lip. … I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair.”
Meghan’s Predicament Is Perfectly Fair
But of course, it is fair. The people and papers of the U.K. obviously want this content, or it wouldn’t be splashed across the tabloid headlines. The BBC wouldn’t make a documentary about a friendly trip to several African nations if no one were interested in the life of the royals.
The tabloid coverage and the BBC coverage are two sides of the same coin. While the duchess may feel The Sun and its ilk treat her unfairly, she must feel positive about the BBC interview. When the reporter asked if she were okay, Meghan looked moved and said, “Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m okay.” The fact that media are showing two sides is fair.
On the second-to-last day of their trip, the pair announced they were bringing suit against the tabloids. Meghan complained that it’s not right “when people are saying things that are untrue, and they’re being told that they’re untrue, but they’re still saying them,” and Harry wants to protect his wife and his family. That’s understandable. But it’s also ludicrous.
The invasive press is part of what holds the silly monarchy upright. If the tabloid press coverage died, it would be because no one in the U.K. cared about the royals, and if no one in the U.K. cared about the royals, those little toy castles would crumble, which they probably should. All castles crumble eventually. That this one is propped up by ink and libel is something for which the duchess should be grateful.
Otherwise, the family is free to move to Hollywood and pursue a different life. That’s what being American is all about.