It’s no secret Meghan Markle has been the subject of major media scrutiny since her relationship began with Prince Harry. The royal couple has even gone as far as filing a lawsuit against British tabloids, which Harry says have “vilified [Meghan] almost daily for the past nine months.”
The backlash against the Duchess of Sussex seems highly unwarranted and many have speculated its due to Markle’s mixed race, including Good Place actress Jameela Jamil and Meghan’s BFF, Jessica Mulroney.
Meghan, herself, has stayed relatively quiet on the subject, but recently opened up about the effect royal life has had on her well-being in the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, which aired on October 20 in the U.K., and is set to be released in in North America on October 23.
In a preview clip of the documentary, ITV host Tom Bradby asks the 38-year-old mother-of-one how she’s been doing and, immediately, Meghan becomes visibly emotional.
“Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” Markle says, holding back tears. “And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So, you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed.”
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“And also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a… very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she continues.
When Bradby asks if it would be fair to say she’s “not really OK” and if the backlash has been a struggle, Meghan responds, “Yes.”
"Not many people have asked if I’m ok … it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 18, 2019
During the interview, the former Suits star also reveals she was warned against marrying Prince Harry by her British friends, who told her the British tabloids would “destroy [her] life.”
“I don’t think anybody could understand that, but in all fairness, I had no idea—which probably sounds difficult to understand here—but when I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great, but you shouldn’t do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life,'” Meghan explains.
“And I very naively…we’re American, we don’t have that there, ‘What are you talking about? That doesn’t make any sense. I’m not in tabloids!’ I didn’t get it,” she continues, adding she would understand the scrutiny if it were fair.
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“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair. And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile,” she says. “If things were fair … If I’d done something wrong, I’d be the first one to go ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I would never do that.’ But when people are saying things that are just untrue and they are being told they’re untrue but they’re allowed to still say them—I don’t know anybody in the world who would feel like that’s OK.”
She continues, “That’s different from just scrutiny. That’s…. what would you call that? It’s a really different beast, you know.”
'My British friend said to me 'I'm sure he's great but you shouldn't do it''
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 20, 2019
And indeed, the hatred towards Markle goes far beyond just criticism of her looks and behaviour. After the documentary clips were shared online, many viewers were quick to judge Meghan once again, speculating that she’s just acting (eye roll) and arguing that the duchess “chose this life” by marrying a British royal and therefore should have expected all that comes along with being in the public eye. But here’s the thing—no person, no matter who they are or whether or not they are a celebrity, deserves this kind of hatred, especially if they (again) have done nothing wrong. Just because a person is a public figure does not give the general public the right to dehumanize them and blame them for “choosing this lifestyle.” The glamour of living as a royal or celebrity does not make up for being made to feel you are “existing, not living.” No couple should feel the need to leave their home because of the criticism they are facing, something Harry alludes to in the interview.
The following tweet from Kovie Biakolo, quoting writer and playwright James Baldwin, sums it up best:
Some of you: Meghan Markle joined the royal family therefore I cannot feel sorry for her.
James Baldwin: There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.
— Kovie Biakolo (@koviebiakolo) October 19, 2019
Even more insidious, Meghan is clearly facing much more negative criticism than her sister-in-law, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge did when she married into the royal family. Sure, Kate did get a fair share of negative press when she and William were dating (which was one of the reported causes of their 2007 split), but as royal expert, Melanie Bromley, suggested to E! News, the public scrutiny surrounding Kate was “nothing like” what we’re seeing with Meghan.
“Kate didn’t have this. Even Kate, who, she had longer to prepare, any negative press she got was like, oh her mother worked for an airline, whatever it was, or Kate’s uncle was a bit controversial with his ‘Maison de Bang Bang’ in Ibiza. But it was nothing like this, what Meghan’s had to deal with,” said Bromley.
Instead, the treatment Markle is dealing with is very reminiscent to the vicious attacks the late Princess Diana faced in her early days of her marriage to Prince Charles.
“This is what Diana went through. Honestly, the similarities between what she’s going through and what Diana went through initially—before Diana became a saint in the press,” Bromley told E! News.
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Prince Harry has also made the comparison of the press’s distrubing treatment of his wife to that of his late mother, whose untimely death in 1997 occurred while trying to escape a throng of photographers, writing, “…my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
In the documentary, Harry also opens up about the grief he feels over the death of his mother, admitting it’s a “wound that festers… every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every time I see a flash.”
“Look, part of this job and part of any job, like everybody, means putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff. But again, for me and for my wife, of course, there’s a lot of stuff that hurts—especially when the majority of it is untrue,” Prince Harry tells Bradby. “All we need to do is focus on being real, focus on being the people we are and standing up for what we believe in,” he continues. “I will not be bullied into carrying a game that killed my mum.”
Meghan told Bradby she plans on just “tak[ing] each day as it comes.”
“I think the grass is always greener. You have no idea. It is really hard to understand what it’s like. The good thing is that I have got my baby and I have got my husband and they are the best,” she says. “I would hope that people … the world would get to a point where you just see us as a couple who’s in love,” she said. “I don’t wake up every day and identify as being anything other than who I’ve always been. I’m Meghan and I married this incredible man and this, to me, is just part of our love story.”
For now, Meghan and Harry are planning on taking a much-needed six-week break for “family time.” Here’s hoping the royal couple get the R&R they deserve.