Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at a photocall to announce their engagement at Kensington Palace, in London, England, on Monday November 27, 2017. (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire/Abaca Press/TNS)

VIDEO: Questions of racism linger as Harry, Meghan step back

U.K. MP says royal rift shows that Britain still has a problem with ‘structural racism’

When accomplished, glamorous American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in 2018, she was hailed as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s fusty royal family. That honeymoon didn’t last.

Now the couple wants independence, saying the pressure of life as full-time royals is unbearable. And a debate is raging: Did racism drive Meghan away?

When Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, began dating the “Suits” actress — daughter of a white father and African American mother — the media called it a sign that Britain had entered a “post-racial” era in which skin colour and background no longer mattered, even to the royal family.

U.K. Labour Party lawmaker Clive Lewis, who, like Meghan, has biracial heritage, says the royal rift shows that Britain still has a problem with “structural racism.”

“We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media, we know that this is a reality of the 21st century, still,” Lewis told Sky News. “After 400 years of racism you can’t just overturn it overnight.”

Frederick W. Gooding, an assistant professor of African American studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, said it would be “disingenuous” to claim race had not been a factor in Meghan’s treatment.

“She was always going to be an outsider,” he said. “There was always going to be this barrier because of her race.”

From the start, some in the media wrote about Meghan using racially loaded terms. One tabloid columnist referred to her “exotic” DNA. A Daily Mail headline described her Los Angeles roots as “(almost) straight outta Compton” and claimed she came from a “gang-scarred” neighbourhood. A TV host described Meghan as “uppity.”

ALSO READ: Call for end to social media abuse of Meghan, Kate

Meghan was criticized for everything from eating avocados — which the Daily Mail claimed fuel “human rights abuses, drought and murder” — to wearing dark nail polish, apparently an etiquette faux pas.

Morgan Jerkins, a senior editor at Zora, a Medium.com site for women of colour, said that because Meghan was “an outsider, culturally, racially, and socioeconomically, she has been the royal family’s scapegoat.”

Others point out that Meghan is hardly the first royal to get a rough ride in the media. The press and the royal family have an intense and often toxic relationship going back decades. Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was snapped by paparazzi wherever she went. When she and Prince Charles admitted that their marriage was in trouble, her private life became public property.

Diana was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 while being pursued by photographers. Prince Harry, who was just 12 when his mother died, said in October he feared “history repeating itself. … I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

RELATED: Princess Diana mourned on 20th anniversary of death

After Diana’s death, a chastened British press mended its ways — a bit. The media left young William and Harry alone in exchange for carefully staged interviews and photo opportunities as they grew up. That practice has continued with the three young children of William and his wife, Kate.

But in many ways little really changed. Royal stories still sell newspapers and generate clicks. That has meant intense — and even illegal — scrutiny. In the early 2000s, tabloid reporters hacked the voicemails of Prince William and royal staff members in pursuit of scoops.

Younger female royals are routinely judged on appearance, demeanour and habits. Prince William’s wife was relentlessly scrutinized for years: dismissed as dull, accused of being lazy for not having a full-time job, and dubbed “waity Katy” before William proposed.

READ MORE: Harry and Meghan can ‘live a little less formal’ in Canada, says Monarchist League

Still, Meghan’s treatment has sometimes seemed harsher. Last year, the Daily Mail ran photos of a pregnant Meghan cradling her bump under the headline: “Why can’t Meghan Markle keep her hands off her bump?” Months earlier the same paper had described a pregnant Kate as “tenderly” cradling her bump.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Peninsula business leader calls for education campaign on social distancing

Chamber boss Denny Warner says Sidney demographics make consistent safety protocols necessary

Fish habitat enhancement champions set to start next project in Saanich

The latest stage of restorations to Colquitz Creek runs Aug. 4 to 14

New development will pay homage to fallen World War One pilot

1015 Cook St. will become 28 market rental homes with mural

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada vows retaliatory measures as Trump restores tariff on Canadian aluminum

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

Island youth starts virtual race against racism

Cailyn Collins says people can take part in the cause from anywhere

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Most Read