Meghan Markle Defeated the British Monarchy
The Sussexes’ refusal to submit to tradition was a long time coming, and it will shake up the royal family
On Wednesday afternoon, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — announced on their joint Instagram account that they would be taking a step back as senior members of the royal family, working to become financially independent from the British Crown, and splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
The move is unprecedented for two reasons: Aside from the sublimely millennial move to release news on a social media account, according to Jonny Dymond, royal correspondent and presenter of BBC News, they did not consult any member of the royal family prior to announcing this decision. One could see from how hasty Buckingham Palace’s response to the breaking news was that they were completely blindsided by Harry and Meghan’s exit. But the question begs: Why should they be? Meghan was never the British monarchy or media’s first choice. She’s been unfairly scrutinized from their courtship to the birth of their son Archie. Because she’s always been an outsider predominantly because of her racial background, there is poetic justice in that she was always destined to break protocol because she never was meant to exist inside of the order in the first place.
There was a moment that, in retrospect, was a turning point in our understanding of Meghan’s strength. Back in October 2019, just five months after she gave birth, in an interview with reporter Tom Bradby for a documentary called Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan was fighting to hold back tears although the rest of her face confessed her despair. Bradby asked about Meghan’s wellbeing, and she frankly told him, “Not many people have asked if I’m okay … it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.” She pulled back the veil a little further when Bradby asked her if she’s not really okay and if it’s been a struggle, and she replied with a faint yet succinct, “Yes.” The short clip was a disgrace.
The royal family still has not learned their lesson from another woman, who unlike Meghan, was born into aristocracy and still struggled to exert her agency: Princess Diana. Twenty-five years ago…