Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has historically stood up to injustice whether it’s in the form of bullying, harassment, or more recently, racism.
Yet, it is important to remember that Meghan herself has been at the receiving end of many an attack. As the wife of Prince Harry, she has had to endure a disproportionate amount of criticism and media scrutiny.
From her outfits, British accent to the way she behaved, every single thing she did was overanalyzed and became fodder to the humongous tabloid machine. Despite all that, she never remained quiet–especially in light of recent events.
Before she even became a royal…
From the start of Meghan’s relationship with Harry, she was bullied by the media, with anonymous royal “insiders” leaking to the press that she had been a “bridezilla” leading up to her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry. Other rumors suggested she was a too demanding boss to the staff at Kensington Palace. She was even blamed for her best friend Serena Williams losing at the U.S. Open!
Just a few of the headlines attacking the Duchess over the years included that she was “fuelling human rights abuses, drought, and murder” for eating avocados and that her mother’s hometown was “(almost) straight outta Compton” and “gang-scarred.”
Ultimately, the media also placed her as in a war with the future Queen of England, her sister in law, the Duchess of Cambridge. The British public evidently had trouble accepting her as an American, a former actress, a divorced woman who also happened to be biracial.
Back in October 2019, Harry and Meghan filed a lawsuit against the Associated Newspapers, now known as DMG Media, after one of the company’s publications released a private letter Meghan had written to her father. And this is only one of the countless invasions the Duchess has had to endure from the tabloids.
Eventually, Harry and Meghan left England to become independent. They never cited
Meghan had to speak up…but she also had to respect her role
In a telling ITV interview, Meghan opened up and confessed that her days since marrying Prince Harry had been “hard.” In fact, before marrying him, she was warned not to marry him by her British friends, as “British tabloids will destroy” her life.
Yet, that certainly did not deter Meghan from marrying the love of her life. Instead, she had tried to “adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip” as a coping mechanism. Yet, despite the fact that she really “really tried,” that strategy can be “really damaging” internally.
I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair and that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile.Meghan Markle to ITV
Asked how she was doing, Meghan teared up a little and replied, “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Meghan was then asked “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really ok? That it’s really been a struggle?” to which Meghan replied, “Yes.”
It may not seem like a passionate denouncement of all the horrible things she has had to endure but we have to remember her position. As a member of the Royal Family, she is expected to adhere to a code of conduct, which involves remaining classy even in the face of the most vicious attacks.
Meghan’s willingness to open up and be honest about personal feelings, especially, negative ones, is a courageous step towards revealing the unjust treatment she had been put through.
At only 11, Meghan made a powerful move for women
Meghan’s feminism is at the core of her work as a royal but also as a human being in this world. At the age of 11, Meghan “accidentally became a female advocate.”
“I had been at school watching a tv show…and this commercial came on with the tagline for this dishwashing liquid and the tagline said, ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.'” Meghan said in a speech back in 2017.
At the time, she felt shocked and angry and consulted her father on it, who told her to write letters. She then proceeded to write “to the most powerful people I could think of.” Lo and behold, 11-year-old Meghan received a reply from Hillary Clinton herself. But the most amazing thing was, “roughly a month later…the soap manufacturer Procter and Gamble changed the commercial.”
They changed it from ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’ to ‘People all over America.’ It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions at the age of 11. I had created my small level of impact by standing up for inequality.Meghan Markle
From the age of 11 up to this day, Meghan’s fight for equality has never stopped. With her larger platform, she has been a consistent advocate for women’s rights. From highlighting gender based violence and femicide in South Africa to highlighting the incredible charitable work women have done locally in the UK, Meghan has consistently used her voice for good.
But she’s also highlighted other forms of discrimination
Meghan hasn’t spoken out publicly very much since her and Prince Harry left public life as senior members of the Royal Family and moved to Los Angeles. Yet, she broke that silence recently to discuss the recent protests regarding racial inequality and police brutality in America.
This occurred during a virtual commencement speech for seniors at Immaculate Heart, the high school she herself had attended when she grew up in Los Angeles.
I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart, and I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.Meghan Markle to Inside Edition
“Because George Floyd’s life mattered and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered and Tamir Rice’s life mattered,” Meghan continued. She went on to speak about her memories of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and encourage students to “channel” their education into meaningful change.
One of the most notable parts of this incredible speech is that something like it wouldn’t have been possible a few months ago. According to a formal royal aide, Meghan probably wouldn’t have been allowed to give the speech before her royal exit.
“It would have been pretty impossible,” Dickie Arbiter, Queen Elizabeth II’s former press secretary, told Newsweek of the speech. “Had Meghan and Harry still been in the U.K. and working members of the royal family that speech couldn’t have happened.”
Why is that? Well, first of all, to the royal family it wouldn’t have been a matter that concerned them… “It’s starting to voice opinions about the internal affairs of another country. I don’t think the queen has to say anything. It is a social issue for the United States and it is not for a head of state to voice an opinion, whether the queen or the president of France or whoever.”
It’s a message though that Meghan has been trying to give to the world for years, way before she even met Prince Harry. And it comes from her personal experiences with discrimination.
“For me, I think it hits a really personal note. I’m biracial. Most people can’t tell what I’m mixed with and so, much of my life has felt like being a fly on the wall,” Meghan said during a video for Erase the Hate’s “I Won’t Stand for Racism” campaign back in 2012.
“And so, some of the slurs that I’ve heard, the really offensive jokes or the names, it just hit me in a really strong way and then, you know, a couple of years ago, I heard someone call my mom the ‘n-word,'” she continuted.
Even though she uttered these words back in 2012, they are still highly relevant today.
So, I think for me, beyond being personally affected by racism, just to see the landscape of what our country is like right now—certainly the world—and to want things to be better.Meghan Markle
Your voice always matters
Meghan has always used her platform to speak up, even when she occupied a very tricky position back in the UK. If anything, her willingness to speak up displays her incredible strength and selflessness. It also reminds us that we too hold power simply by having a voice. When we choose to exert its power, we can make a difference.
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