Pip pip and cheerio! The internet is up in arms about the fact that Meghan Markle *might* be developing a British accent. This ~controversy~ is all stemming from a fan-shared clip of the Duchess of Sussex meeting-and-greeting some commoners royal watchers at an event earlier in June. As you’ll hear in the video below, Meghan’s accent slips a touch into Dowager Countess of Grantham territory on a few occasions, particularly in the phrase: “We’ve all (awwwhhlll) had a great day.” Have a listen:
Meghan said my name, that’s me done pic.twitter.com/167F2ubjUh
— Aya El Zeiny (@elzeiny99) June 14, 2018
So does she kinda sound a bit like she might have been born-and-bred in Her Majesty’s Royal Borough of Chelsea there? For sure. But who amongst us has not, on occasion, perhaps after bingeing The Crown for hours, slipped into a bit of a Sloane-y drawl? And Meghan, let us not forget, had not only spent the entirety of that day with the Queen (who essentially IS a British accent personified) she’s also literally been immersed in those accents for over a year at this point. We’re basically fully-fledged Cockneys within four seconds of landing at Heathrow so, frankly, she’s done well to hang onto her West Coast American accent for as long as she has. It’s also worth pointing out that she technically has more of a Canadian accent anyway at this point, having lived in Toronto filming Suits for so long, and that’s practically British accent adjacent…right?
Also, if our memory of Sociology 101 is serving us well, perhaps what Meghan is actually doing in this clip is a little something called “mirroring,” in which she’s adapting her behaviour/manners to match those of the people around her. It’s a way of showing empathy and solidarity—and, crikey, there’s no better way of making people feel at ease (and perhaps feel like you’re fitting in, too) than mimicking their speech rhythms.
Having your accent change over time is an inevitable part of the immigrant experience and, hey, for all we know this actually might be feeling like a loss for Meghan, too. Instead of accusing her of working on a “fake” accent, what if she’s just as bloody appalled as the rest of us? For someone who’s had so much of her former life (arguably) taken away, clinging to her Cali girl vocal vibe may be something she’s actually consciously trying to do.
Or, if she really is working on her “British accent,” so what? New country, new husband, new non-messy bun, new accent…why not? People change, and accents can, too.