“Megxit” can definitely be considered as one of the most consuming news stories of recent times. It has opened a huge debate – over the state of the royal family, the racism of the media and the likability of Meghan herself. And I think it has revealed a lot.
I always find that many people, particularly from the generation before mine, can have an almost protective stance over the royal family: a sort of inherent need to defend it, both as an institution and the individuals within it. That’s not to say they are not entitled to that view, and I don’t think the royal family is an entirely negative thing by any means, but I think there needs to come a time when we must realise that the royal family is not the be all and end all of what constitutes Great Britain.
I was not at all surprised by them stepping down, and simply I thought, fair enough - and I also had myself asking why it should matter to anyone else.
ACCUSATIONS OF RACISM
A lot of the debate has been provoked by accusations of racism in the treatment of Meghan Markle. What people need to understand is that just because the media (or anyone for that matter) may not have printed an obvious racist remark does not mean that they haven’t been discriminatory, or indeed that their remarks haven’t been based on discriminatory values.
(It should also be noted that twice the Daily Mail has made an overtly racist remark – once referring to Meghan as being ‘straight outta Compton’ and also stating that she will add ‘exotic DNA’ to the royal family).
Discrimination is almost never an outward offensive remark: it is when policies or structures that appear to be, and are therefore described as neutral actually disadvantage a group of people. Institutional and structural racism is also not a conspiracy by the government or its institutions where they sit down at their desks and plan out step by step how to convince others to be racist or continue racism, but it is what is imbedded within our society due to the historical makeup of the country. People and organisations do not have to realise they are racist to be racist!
(I’d also like to say that despite what Laurence Fox said on Question Time it is not racist to call someone a white privileged male because said person has never been held back in life because of their race.)
A few examples of structural racism in the UK:
Statistics show that stop and search practices by the police target black people by a large majority
A black schoolboy in the UK was recently told he would face expulsion if he did not cut off his dreadlocks
Nearly all the major banks in the UK have admitted that their founders were slave-owners and/or the origins of the bank came from dealings with slave-owner
The failed adequacy in the dealings of the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence was admitted as being due to institutional racism in the Macpherson Report
The disgusting media and social media abuse that MP Diane Abbott has received and continues to receive
Now would be a good point for me to step in and say that I am definitely not here trying to be an expert on racism in the UK: I am in no place to comment on certain things as I have never experienced it, and would never wish anyone to. However, I have studied discrimination within the legal system fairly considerably and feel like I have a good grasp on discriminatory trends within UK institutions. But saying this, I feel like I should write this piece as it is down to white people to actually change white racism, it should not be the job of those who are on the receiving end of it.
I am also not saying that everyone is exactly the same. Violently blatant racist thinking and actions is completely distinct and dangerous, and I am not suggesting that this is what makes up everyone in the UK. But in a society that is structurally racist it is not as easy as distinguishing everyone as either racist or non-racist. It needs to be understood that racism is not a few individuals that can be dealt with, it is in the subtle everyday makings of society. After all, the entire structural makeup of Britain is grounded on the existence of slavery: the most literal practice of white supremacy. Taxpayers in Britain were still paying off tax to slaveowners until 2015 (!!!!!), the compensation they were owed for having ‘lost their property’ due to the end of slavery.
OK, now back to Meghan.
Many people who claim they do not like Meghan Markle will also claim that there not liking her has nothing to do with her skin colour or gender, but these people must ask themselves why exactly is it then that they don’t like her? Nearly all of our perception of Meghan Markle comes from what the media report about her, because how else would we know anything about her. So most likely, any cause of dislike is coming from something the media have said or reported to you, and trust me when I say that alot of the reason they don't like her is because of her skin colour, her gender and the fact that she is foreign – whether they explicitly know that or not is a different question. I’m not saying she is my favourite person on the planet, or that I know her particularly well, but that’s the thing: we do not know her.
There are some things going on here that no one can deny:
Firstly, Meghan has been ‘othered’.
To be ‘othered’ is in brief, the treating of someone as different to oneself in a discriminatory way. The notion of an ‘us’ and a ‘them’, and a lot of the time it occurs in the context of race, and in the context of the media. Meghan has consistently been treated as not quite being worthy of fitting in to the mould of the royal family, or the UK at all really.
This is obvious from her consistent direct comparisons with Kate, note here two headlines from the same newspaper – The Daily Express:
Kate Middleton’s bouquet was effortlessly elegant and understated: Why you can always say it with flowers
As compared to,
Royal Wedding: How Meghan Markle’s flowers may have put Princess Charlotte’s life at risk
It’s almost laughable.
Another astounding contradiction comes from the comparison of how “Megxit” has gone down compared to the recent story of Prince Andrew. I’m not here to make any unjustified accusations about that situation but I know which one should definitely be viewed as more concerning, both by the media, the public, and the royal family itself. There is considerable evidence that Prince Andrew was aware of Epstein’s inappropriate actions, and yet a woman seeking financial and personal independence has sparked more outrage? How do we live in a world like that?
Furthermore, this has all seemingly been portrayed as Meghan’s decision and hers alone. There is almost an assumption that Prince Harry could not have made this decision without being coerced or manipulated into it. He has stated time and again that he does what he feels is best for his family. They were not stripped of their title by the Queen – they willingly gave it up. Many of the Queen’s grandchildren all work to earn their own money, including Zara Tindall and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, so it’s not actually that crazy of a concept – but you’d think it was considering the reaction. What people also forget (and even tend to actually use against Meghan) is that Meghan Markle, an American woman, had a career in her own right prior to falling in love with a man who happened to be a royal, it was not her life’s plan to orchestrate this situation.
THE ROYAL ROTA
The media scrutiny will probably not stop any time soon, and this is due to ‘The Royal Rota’. The Royal Rota is made up of a select group of media representatives that are invited to attend and report on royal events. The system gives preferential treatment to certain British publications, and the core publications in the royal rota are: The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Times, and The Sun.
A large part of “Megxit” is due to the fact the Sussexes want to leave the media exclusivity they unwillingly give to the media. So, do you really think the media is going to be happy about this? Not being able to get first access anymore to every aspect of their lives? It can probably be assumed then that the image painted of Meghan will continue to get worse.
Why do people care so greatly about this when the royal family add nothing to our lives other than novelty? That is not to say I am an anti-monarchist because I am pretty neutral on that situation, I very much enjoy the excitement over the royal celebrations and admit that I may have shed a tear (or 2000) when the royal wedding was on telly. All in all, I find the concept and history of the monarchy fascinating. But that excitement does not give us the right to simply treat the royal family as a commodity.
This article is not here to act as a profession of my undying love and absolute adoration for Meghan Markle, but fair is fair – and she should be treated fairly as a human being. Essentially the situation has revealed a lot about society: there are more pressing issues of our time that are being ignored in favour of this. Can we not just leave them alone and respect their decision? I'm gonna go on a whim and say it probably won't affect your life that much anyway.