When it comes to media coverage, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, can’t catch a break. Months after she and her husband officially departed from their Royal duties, the harsh criticism she constantly receives shows no sign of slowing down.
Since Markle and Prince Harry first went public with their relationship, the pair has received criticism from the media. The media directs the vast majority of this criticism at Markle, while Prince Harry seems rather untouchable. As the couple navigated through their engagement, marriage, and the birth of their first child, the hatred towards Markle only intensified.
In January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they will step back from the Royal family. The move became official March 31st. The couple now resides in Los Angeles, an unprecedented move for British Royalty.
Part of the reason Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose to leave their posts is because of the constant negative media attention directed at Markle. However, their lifestyle change has done little to stem the constant attacks that Markle faces from the media.
The Media Feeding Frenzy
At least weekly, some tabloid claims that Markle is self-absorbed, ruining the royal family, or a terrible mother. If it’s not that, it’s some other mean-spirited attack. A quick Google search of Markle’s name will unfailingly turn up op-eds describing her as whiny, or some gossipy story of strife she supposedly caused at the palace.
There is a stark difference in how the media talks about Meghan Markle in comparison with her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton. The media regularly criticizes Markle in a way that Middleton has largely escaped. The media generally describes Middleton as classy, elegant, and a doting mother, while Markle takes the hits.
The Ugly Truth Behind The Criticism
This could be because Markle is a divorced American with a messy family background. It could also be because she’s Black.
It’s impossible to ignore the inherent racism behind the media’s coverage of Markle. The media finds ways to take her most innocent gestures, like putting her hands on her baby bump while pregnant, and turn it into some excuse for calling her self-absorbed and vain.
Every time a new piece comes out, labeling Markle as a so-called destructive force within the Royal family, it becomes even clearer that the attacks against her have no basis in fact. Instead, they simply lay in an antiquated idea of what a Royal woman should be.
Markle is elegant, well-dressed, well-spoken, and beautiful. All qualities that we normally equate with Royalty. Her departure from that stereotype comes in her Blackness, something that we should all be celebrating. The diversification of the Royal family should be a great step forward. The treatment Markle received from the media, however, takes it back a few steps.
Until we see the media start to cover Markle in the same way they cover Middleton, as elegant, classy, doting wives and mothers, it will be impossible to ignore the role that racism plays in Markle’s media image. It remains obvious there is still much work to do when it comes to how Black women are perceived by the media.