Culture Pick: Meghan Markle and her treatment by the tabloids

Zara Morgan, Contributing Writer

From the placement of her hands to where she decides to spend the holidays, Meghan Markle has had a hard time finding favor with the tabloids and social media since the day she decided to marry Prince Harry, the current Duke of Sussex.  

On Jan. 10, Prince Harry released a memoir called “Spare,” the title of which is a reference to his brother William being the heir to the throne and Harry feeling like the spare child. With the help of ghostwriter J.R. Moehringer, Harry prosaically outlines his experience as a member of the royal family. The novel touches on expected topics such as his relationship with the British royal family and reasons for leaving them , but maintains a sense of humor with a story about how he lost his virginity.  

Additionally, Markle and Harry released a six-part Netflix documentary titled “Harry and Meghan” which was released on Dec. 8, 2022. The second volume was released a week later on Dec. 15. While “Spare” outlines the highlights of Harry’s life as an explanation for why he left the royal family, “Harry and Meghan” takes a swan dive into the timeline of their relationship through a very somber and candid lens.  

The release of the novel and the docuseries has once again lit the flames of mainstream media with everyone trying to decide whether they would like to be on the side of Markle and the prince, or that of the royal family. 

Many critics believe the docuseries to be too long and an unnecessary bashing one’s own family. According to Vox, the first volume “does so little to advance what we already know that it feels more like a summary than a true documentary.” 

Furthermore, the documentary is facing allegations that Meghan and Harry have cropped photos and used footage from events that have nothing to do with the couple in order to garner sympathy, according to BBC 

On the flip side, supporters of the docuseries believe that it is a much-needed conversation starter. According to The Upcoming, “it succeeds in laying the groundwork to reopen necessary discussions.” 

Those against the novel on Goodreads claim that Markle and Harry are disrespectfully using their family drama to turn a profit.  

It seems like no matter what the Duchess of Sussex does, it’s always the wrong move. With the passing of Queen Elizabeth, the scrutiny that Markle had been facing is only getting worse. Markle and Harry attended the funeral and the tabloids took the event as an opportunity to pick apart the couple’s every action.  

A photo of Markle wiping a tear from her face was splashed across media outlets almost immediately after the funeral. Shortly after the photo was published, headlines such as GeoNews’s headline, “Meghan Markle sob not ‘genuine’ at funeral: ‘Knew tears would be photographed,’” ensued. 

However, the Duchess of Sussex was not the only one seen crying during the procession. It was also noted that King Charles III, Queen Consort Camillia and Prince William were all also photographed crying, according to Page Six.  

This is just one such example of the media having a double standard between Markle and the rest of the royal family. Chandra Clark, a UA professor in mass media and communications, believes that the majority of Markle’s backlash comes because of her outspokenness, celebrity status and overall role in the royal family.  

“I have seen a lot of the different stories, but I think the whole point and how she’s being treated and why people say that is because of her celebrity status, her being different than the rest of the royal family and being American, and then also the fact that she’s a little more vocal than others,” Clark said. 

Compared to Markle, Clark believes that the reason Middleton receives better coverage is due to her having grown up in England and differences in personality.  

“Kate Middleton grew up in England,” Clark said. “So, I do think that she has grown up watching how different Brits also react to the to the media and how they handle it. I think there’s just a big difference between the two people.” 

Clark said she believes that what is happening to Markle will come to pass.  

“There’s a lot of things that people forgive people for when they’re in the spotlight,” Clark said. “I think when celebrities show that they are authentic, and that they do have any kind of remorse and that they’re trying to show who they truly are.” 

Many believe that the mistreatment that Markle is facing is racially motivated, due to Markle being half Black. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, Markle and Harry admitted that the British press played a large role in their split with the royal family.  

Aside from the royal family, media outlets have also furthered racist ideology when referencing Markle. For example, “Harry and Meghan” touches on stereotyping, dog-whistles and more; for example, a tabloid calling Markle “gangster royalty.” 

In the documentary, Kehinde Andrews, an author of a book called “The New Age of Empire,” said, “Nobody wants to be openly racist. That wouldn’t be civilized, and that wouldn’t be British, but it’s perfectly fine to dog-whistle, give a nod to — she’s a diva, she’s making people cry — this angry Black woman trope came to the fore quite suddenly.” 

There were also alleged reports that certain members of the royal family made racist remarks about Markle, including being concerned about the skin color of Markle and Harry’s future children.  

According to an article by NBC published in 2021, “Charles was reported to have wondered about the skin color of the couple’s future children over breakfast with his wife, Camilla.” 

After the allegations were made, Prince Charles’ press team was quick to issue a statement saying that the claim “is fiction and not worth further comment,” according to NBC. 

In “Harry and Meghan,” Harry explains the role racism had in making Markle’s life difficult in Britain, which eventually led to her having suicidal thoughts. Despite this, it seems that even if the royal family and media outlets aren’t giving Markle a break, Harry and Markle are determined to set the story straight. 

“There is a huge level of unconscious bias,” Harry said in the documentary. “The thing with unconscious bias, it is actually no one’s fault. But once it has been pointed out, or identified within yourself you then need to make it right. It is education. It is awareness. It is a constant work in progress for everybody, including me.”