“Megxit”: Media’s Role

  • Sandy Grees ’21

Earlier this month, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their departure from the royal family. In an Instagram post on January 8th, they said, “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen, We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America.”

Since the announcement, both American and British media outlets have speculated on the cause of this sudden departure. With some calling the decision “Megxit,” the announcement has sparked even more criticism of Meghan Markle, with many outlets blaming her for creating a rift between the royal family. While there could be many reasons behind Meghan and Harry’s decision, the British tabloids’ blatant racist treatment of Meghan is undeniably a major factor. Regular harassment and critique of Meghan began as soon as her relationship with Harry became publicly known. Throughout Meghan’s engagement, wedding, and pregnancy, the British media has been relentless in scrutinizing her every move, hurling wild accusations and documenting her countless perceived faux pas.

While it is true that every member of the royal family undergoes immense media scrutiny, the abuse that Meghan has faced is unprecedented. The British media has capitalized on Meghan’s Los Angeles background with headlines labeling her neighborhood as “gang-scarred” and describing her as “(almost) straight outta Compton.” While headlines like these are blatantly elitist and arguably racist, the British media’s harassment of Meghan goes further than attacking her background and American heritage. She has been portrayed as a money-hungry social climber who wants to use the royal family for personal gain (DailyMail) to a radical liberal who seeks to destroy the fundamental tradition that the royal family be an apolitical monarch by introducing socialism to the UK (DailySquib).

In addition to baseless claims that the media has hurled at Markle, they have also treated her extremely poorly when compared to the treatment of her brother- in-law’s wife, Kate Middleton. When publishing photos of a pregnant Meghan cradling her baby bump, the Daily Mail, a popular British tabloid, ran the headline “Why can’t Meghan Markle keep her hands off her bump?” Just a few months earlier, they published similar photos of a pregnant Kate Middleton, describing her as “tenderly cradling her bump.” The British media has disproportionately portrayed Meghan as an outsider and a villain for doing the same things that Kate Middleton has been praised for doing.

This difference in approach comes from a deeply rooted history of racism in Europe. The British public has been accustomed to seeing a wealthy, white, and exclusive family in power for hundreds of years. Media outlets and tabloids condition the public to view Meghan as a villainous figure because she is an outspoken American woman of color.

Throughout her time in the public eye as the Duchess of Sussex, she has been viewed as a force of separation between not only Harry and William, but between Harry and the entire United Kingdom. The way in which the British public and media has handled this announcement proves that the UK has not gotten past its racist history.

Photo from Newsweek

By Axel de Vernou

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