We Should All Be Happy For Our New Duchess

Kimia Etemadi

I believe that our new Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, deserves nothing but respect and admiration, and that all criticism of her can be divided into four categories: racism, sexism, classism, and jealousy.

Ever since she and Prince Harry started a relationship, criticism of her has been strong. But all of the “criticism” I have seen is not valid criticism at all.

Across comment sections all over the internet, including on Kensington Palace’s Instagram and of course articles on the MailOnline, people have left the vilest comments about Meghan. And I wonder if such people realise that being so vitriolic about someone you have never known in person and will probably never meet, is about as pointless as hitting your own head against a wall. Whether they like it or not, Meghan is our new Duchess, and we are lucky to have her.

Some of these people are openly racist, and have judged Meghan purely for the melanin in her skin: the fact that she has a black mother, and is therefore biracial. Sadly, this racism has not been confined to the world of furious keyboard warriors: the MailOnline referred to Meghan as being “(almost) straight outta Compton”, the Sun remarked that she was “VERY different from Harry’s usual type” since he previously dated “gorgeous, doll-faced women who all sport blonde tresses”. Not only did the Sun mention Meghan’s lack of blonde hair, they also seemingly implied that Harry’s exes were more “gorgeous” than Meghan, all because of her race. Needless to say, newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Sun should not only be ashamed of themselves, but the societies that enable and embolden them to write such outright racist vitriol should be ashamed, too. In what world is it acceptable to judge someone’s background and worth based on their skin colour?

So real was the racism problem that the Royal Family had to release a statement in November 2016 denouncing the “wave of abuse and harassment” to which Meghan had been subjected.

As if the poisonous words weren’t bad enough, in February 2018, somebody sent actual poison in the form of a white powder letter to Prince Harry’s then-fiancée and now wife. It was rightly treated as a racist hate crime.

But there are those who aren’t as confident to openly spout racism, and so have made sexist remarks. Hateful remarks continue to be made about the fact that Meghan was a divorcée, is three years older than Harry, and had had other previous relationships; these sexists’ comments have been numerous not only before and during their engagement, but even after their wedding last Saturday. Many on the internet questioned her wearing a white wedding dress, since they believe that those should be reserved for virgins. But even if she hadn’t been married before, what 36-year-old, in this day and age, is even a virgin? Why does everyone obsess over her previous relationships, or even feel the need to mention them? Andrew Morton, who has previously written a biography of Princess Diana and has now written one about our newest Duchess, said that Meghan has “done the rounds”, referring to her previous relationships and her having acted in “raunchy” TV scenes. Would he use this kind of language about Prince Harry and the fact that he, too, has had previous relationships? I would think not.

This kind of sexist, anti-feminist language is used only against women. If someone could tell me which 36-year-old anywhere in the world, let alone a highly successful and beautiful actress and model like Meghan, hasn’t “done the rounds”, then I’d be very surprised indeed. We’ve seemingly come a long way since Princess Diana reportedly had to have a gynaecological test to confirm her virginity before marrying Prince Charles; thirty-seven years have passed, and attitudes towards virginity have changed. A woman’s hymen is no longer the basis for her value. So why do people keep bringing up Meghan’s past relationships?

Then there’s the classist abuse people have directed at her. Many have accused Meghan Markle of being a “social climber”, of networking her way to the top. But what exactly is wrong with wanting a better life than the one you were born into? I’m sure that everyone expected that Prince Harry would marry an aristocratic or otherwise well-off, upper-class “society blonde” with a double-barrelled surname, who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, frequents the Royal Ascot in silly hats, and could live off daddy’s millions for the rest of her life, but I’m very impressed that Prince Harry instead chose a hardworking, independent woman, a feminist and humanitarian, one with her own ideas and money that she made by herself.

Finally, the other critics who aren’t overtly racist, sexist, or classist, suffer from one thing: jealousy. As one writer said, the fact that Meghan’s paternal long-lost relatives have all been profiting from her new worldwide fame, by speaking ill of her to the media at any given opportunity, can be described by the phenomenon of crab mentality: the idea that “if I can’t have something, then neither should you”. Instead of their hatred telling us anything about Meghan, the only thing that their bitterness and hate-filled comments revealed was about themselves. I, too, would not invite people who had publicly said horrible things about me, whether they were family or not, to my wedding. So why did everyone expect Meghan to invite them? With family like that, who needs enemies?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I have always known about Meghan and that I’m a royalist, but actually, neither are true. I only heard about her when they announced the engagement; not because she wasn’t famous in her own right in her life before Harry (she certainly was; a famous actress, humanitarian, and blogger), but because I’m very bad at keeping up with famous faces and don’t have the patience to follow any TV series, so I tend not to know about them. I love her not just because she is incredibly pretty, graceful, and a former actress, but solely for the fact that she has had to endure such horrible racism, sexism, classism, and jealousy, on a very public platform.

I hear those who question the need for having a monarchy at all in the twenty-first century, and I can’t help but agree with them. I do think that the £30million cost of security for the Royal Wedding could have been paid for by the Royal Family rather than by taxpayers, and I do think that the Royal Family should have provided at least a single drink to the 1,200 members of the public invited, who were told to bring their own packed lunch, but we should remember that neither of these two things are the fault of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. So, if you have always been a republican, then fair enough, but if you have suddenly become one just because of our new Duchess being biracial, then your real issue isn’t royalty: it’s race.

I’m effectively the opposite of those racist Britons who formerly were completely royalist but are now beginning to question us having a monarchy purely because our newest Duchess is half-black. I think that the Royal Family have done well to modernise, and with the modern love story of Harry and Meghan, there could certainly come to exist a whole new generation of royalists. Now that I know that a strong, independent woman like Meghan Markle, who worked hard for herself, has some very admirable views, and managed to single-handedly modernise an otherwise outdated institution and family, I may well become a royalist. Equally, now that I know that the Royal Family is beginning to discard antiquated views on virginity, race, class, and divorced status, I am impressed enough that I may well become a royalist. Before I do, though, I am waiting for them to put an end to one more thing: the barbaric cruelty that is hunting.

We should all be happy for our new Duchess. She is truly wonderful.