Meghan Markle is being vilified on social media again – quelle surprise

·6-min read
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

Broadcasters have largely done a stellar job of capturing the many moods of the mourning period over the past week. From the sombre atmosphere of people laying tributes to the late Queen, to the camaraderie and peak-Britishness of Her Majesty The Queue (and the queue for the queue). We have seen everything from processions, accessions and proclamations, the coverage of which has been as detailed and comprehensive as the ceremonies themselves.

One thing that hit me upon visiting the tributes to Queen Elizabeth II at Green Park though, was something you can’t experience through TV coverage: the overpowering aroma of thousands upon thousands of bouquets of flowers. If perfumers wanted to capture the scent of mourning a late monarch, I’d suggest they start working on Eau d’Hommage Floral.

Yet, there’s been another whiff in the air this past week. Something altogether more predictable, and altogether less pleasant: the stench of animosity towards Meghan Markle.

While supporting her husband, comforting members of the public, pausing her podcast and taking a back seat in proceedings, the Duchess of Sussex has still been unable to unshackle herself from the ire of the haters.

“So inappropriate!!!” “Outrageous!” The dissenters cried, as Meghan held her grieving husband’s hand while he walked behind the casket of his late grandmother. Most of us were mentally juxtaposing the image of Harry walking in the procession for the lying-in-state this week with the one of him, age 12, tiny and quiet, slow pacing behind his mother’s coffin – reportedly told not to cry by his father. Not to mention that Zara also held the hand of her husband Mike Tindall as did Princess Beatrice, with hers.

Prince William even acknowledged what the public was thinking this week, admitting that the moment had been a stark reminder of Princess Diana’s death. Many were touched to see, this time, a supporting figure next to Harry, rather than the cold stiff upper lips of the preceding occasion. Naturally, for much of the anti-Meghan brigade, this moment was ripe for criticism.

While visiting well-wishers in Edinburgh on the weekend, Meghan took some flowers from a member of the public. A royal aide offered to place them among the tributes for her, but Meghan said, “I told them I’d place them over there so it’s OK. Thank you. I appreciate it though.” For most people, this moment showed a human, generous side to the duchess. For others, it was a chance to impose alternative meaning – Meghan hushed away her aide! She was desperate for a photo op! She’s making it all about her! But anyone who bothered to properly watch the clip would see this was not remotely what had happened. Someone has been hushing away aides this week – both from ink pots and their roles– but it isn’t Meghan. Though, naturally, Meghan must be the fall woman for everything.

Also from the walkabout, surfaced a clip of one woman in the crowd refusing to acknowledge Meghan or shake her hand as the duchess walked past. A display of utter pettiness – nasty, unkind and unnecessary. Many praised her on social media for ‘taking a stand’. Against what, is hard to say.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

Meghan has received a swathe of negative, sexist and oftentimes racist coverage from social media and factions of the press since the moment she stepped into the royal frame. “Straight Outta Compton!”Exotic!” So much so, that Harry released an unprecedented statement to the media in their early days of dating, practically begging them to back off. They didn’t. It merely lit the coals beneath their venom, and so Harry and Meghan said their piece and parted these fair shores for the US.

Stepping away from their public-facing roles as royals into ones in which they could control the narrative, work on the charitable causes they care about and stay as far away from the UK as possible, was what they chose to do instead. But even still, treatment of Meghan – and the couple in general – has remained unwaveringly negative by some.

Much controversy surrounded the decision originally for Harry not to be permitted to wear military uniform for Queen Elizabeth II's final vigil in Westminster Hall, meanwhile disgraced Prince Andrew was to be allowed to. Harry chose to step back from the front line of the monarchy, but he is one of few royals we have seen this past week in processions who served on the front line – in Afghanistan and in the British Army for a decade. Andrew served too, in the Falklands, but how could we forget that – it’s where he lost his ability to sweat!

Neither the King, nor Prince Edward or the Princess Royal have ever spent time on a battlefield – but have all donned their military finest for ceremonies this past week. Harry asked the public not to dwell on this, and to “focus on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” and the Duke of York denies all charges against him. Thankfully, Buckingham Palace u-turned on this ruling, and Harry will now be in military regalia to stand for 15 minutes with his siblings and cousins on Saturday night.

Sections of the British press and the social media lions have long been critical of both women and people of colour – especially those that dare to join ‘the firm’. It won’t be forgotten how Diana was treated, and we don’t need to cast our minds back far to remember “Waity Katie” the “commoner”, apparently desperate for William’s ring on her finger. A fair amount of sexism has been directed at Camilla too this week, from those who can’t seem to separate measured criticism from misogyny. But it is undeniable that Meghan – being a woman of colour – has suffered the worst.

Stepping away from the insurmountable pressures of life within the royal institution to protect themselves from the racist bile of social media is not hard to compute – but it has angered some royalists so much it is increasingly difficult to see a way out for the couple.

Thankfully, there have been a few clear messages that, though the royals remain staunch in some things, they are willing to step up their support for the couple in other ways. Harry and Meghan have been invited to be involved in all of the processions and ceremonies surrounding The Queen’s death – a decision the late sovereign would have undoubtedly been behind. Harry has also now been permitted to wear uniform for Friday’s vigil in Westminster Abbey. And, most notably, Charles used his first official address to the nation as King to namecheck them.

It was brief and simple, but clear as day: “I want, also, to express my love for Harry and Meghan, as they continue to build their lives overseas.” What other way could that be interpreted other than as: “please, if you have respect for the monarchy, have respect for them.” For those mourning The Queen’s death, who love the royal family and the pomp and ceremony it brings, it is time they realised they cannot support Elizabeth II, King Charles II, and the new Prince of Wales, if they don’t support Harry and Meghan, too.

You Might Also Like