In January 2020, Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, announced that they would be stepping back from their senior roles in the royal family. I was supportive, but not shocked. Usually, I don’t really have strong feelings about what celebrities are doing in their personal lives, but I love "Suits" and hate Britain, so this situation was the perfect combination to hold my interest.
Then, last week, Meghan and Harry sat down for a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, where they revealed details about their treatment within the royal family and by the British press — treatment that motivated their exit from the family and the country.
The post-special coverage described the interview as “explosive,” “bombshell,” and “stunning.” Personally, I thought those words were too strong. I found the interview saddening, especially when Meghan spoke of her mental health struggles and her suicidal ideations, but ultimately unsurprising.
I saw a similar sentiment echoed on social media by people of color, especially Black women, who face the racism Meghan Markle endured on a more local level every day. “Didn’t we all know the royal family is racist? Why are people so surprised?” I saw people writing.
I wondered the same thing: Why are Americans so surprised that the royal family is racist when the vitriolic, racist abuse Meghan endured has been public for so many years? When so much of the Queen’s wealth is derived from the spoils of imperialism?
One of the “bombshells” about which much was written was Meghan and Harry’s allegation that someone in the family was concerned about the skin color of their baby. They refused to name names, but my money is on Prince William, who bizarrely responded to the interview by claiming that the royals are “very much not a racist family." (Yeah, right.)
Maybe it was shocking that they mentioned it in the interview, but I am not shocked someone said it. Colorism is one of the many heads of the white supremacy Hydra, and the colorism in British white supremacist consciousness is so pervasive that it leached into the countries Britain colonized. For example, skin lightening creams and beauty standards prioritizing fairness are still widespread in Britain’s former colonies in Asia and Africa.
The part of the interview that did shock me was Meghan’s assertion that she was completely willing to give up her entire life and career to serve the royal family’s needs, a sacrifice of self that I would never consider making. Contrary to accusations made by the yellow journalism of the U.K. tabloids, she was not interested in shaking up the structure of this extremely archaic and flawed institution, which, frankly, needs a lot of change.
As a classy, popular, beautiful mixed-race woman uninterested in fundamentally altering the establishment she was marrying into, Meghan Markle would have been the perfect diversity outreach officer for the royal family. Embracing her would have been a public relations dream for them. Instead, they tried to ruin her life.
Anyone with even a little knowledge of the royal family would immediately recall Princess Diana’s infamous "Panorama" interview in 1995. In the interview, she discussed a similar feeling of alienation and persecution from the family she had married into, as well as her own struggles with mental health and her eating disorder.
Princess Diana, unlike the rest of the royal family, is dearly beloved by immigrant mothers for her unconventionality: she came from outside the family and stood up for herself when she was mistreated, taking her life into her own hands. She managed to leave a marriage where she was not appreciated or respected, a deep-seated desire shared by generations of women who were forced into loveless marriages with awful in-laws.
Meghan is for us what Diana was for our mothers: an aspirational tale of someone who refused to take the unwarranted abuse she faced daily and instead decided to get out.
Diana tragically lost her life fleeing her abusers. Meghan lost a child. It is my sincere hope that she will not lose anything more.
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