Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, are in the news yet again. This time the royal pair is being criticized for taking two mini vacations, flying to Ibiza, Spain, and then to Nice, France, on private jets. According to British press (or *ahem* should we say tabloids?) environmental activists are calling the royal duo hypocrites for championing climate change issues while deciding to fly private.
This is far from the first time the media has criticized the Sussexes—and, often, its portrayal of the couple is downright racist. As far back as November 2016, when Meghan and Harry were first confirmed to be dating, the Daily Mail ran a headline that dubbed the former actor, “straight outta Compton” and asked if Harry would be dropping by the low-income Los Angeles neighbourhood where Markle is from for tea. What’s even more offensive, is that regardless of how many times people have called out the Daily Mail for this blatantly racist headline, it still exists online almost three years later.
Since then, there have been op-eds and articles discussing how Meghan’s “exotic DNA” is “thickening the royal blue” bloodline, how Markle is “unsuitable” as a partner for Prince Harry, as well as positioning her as “picky” after one of her assistants quit. (Words like picky, difficult and angry are often thrown at women of colour in a coded manner.)
In defence of the new parents, fans and royal followers are rightly peeved, and celebrities such as Jameela Jamil, Ellen DeGeneres, Pink and Elton John have backed the pair over this latest criticism, pointing out that the double-standard being lobbed at them is racially motivated.
In a Tweet posted on August 20, The Good Place star Jamil wrote, “Ugh. Dear England and English press, just say you hate her because she’s black, and him for marrying a black woman and be done with it. God dammit. Your bullying is so embarrassing and obvious. You’ve all lost your marbles. It’s 2019. Grow up.”
Ugh. Dear England and English press, just say you hate her because she’s black, and him for marrying a black woman and be done with it God dammit. Your bullying is so embarrassing and obvious. You’ve all lost your marbles. It’s 2019. Grow up. https://t.co/OMwwRU31p9
— Jameela Jamil
Jamil later went on to point out that, being royal, the couple and their son need to take precautions when travelling because they run the risk of being put in danger. In Sir Elton John’s statement, where he mentioned he paid for the pair to fly private to his home in Nice while also paying for carbon offsets, he raised the delicate point that Harry and Meghan are often hounded by the press, much like Harry’s mum, the late Princess Diana, was.
And while flying private is defintiely terrible when it comes to its environmental impact—it is estimated that private jets cause 10 times the amount of carbon pollution than flying commercial—how often are white celebrities (many of whom are “environmental activists”) held to the same standard that Sussexes currently are? Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, is often seen flying private, while also donating much of his time and money to raising awareness around environmental issues. And yet, there isn’t nearly the same amount of ire being thrown his way.
Furthermore, Harry’s brother, Prince William and his family have also flown private on many of their trips, all while similarly putting their royal muscle behind environmental causes. And yet, they have not experienced anything close to this amount of press surrounding their travel decisions.
Here at home, Markle’s BFF Jessica Mulroney also took to social media to stand up for her pal and call out the racism underlying this double standard. In a statement posted to the stylist and television personality’s Instagram, Mulroney said, “When someone faces unfair criticism, you call it out. When that person is your friend and your family, you call those critics what they truly are. Shame on you, you racist bullies.”
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It’s been frustrating and disheartening to see the way the British press have been treating Markle, who made Canada her home for years while she was filming the television show Suits.
Perhaps the most glaring instance of the U.K. press unfairly criticizing Meghan and Harry is in the way they seemed to equate the the Duke and Duchess’s private flight “scandal” with Prince Andrew’s very real embroilment in the Jeffrey Epstein sexual abuse case. Case in point: The Daily Mail’s cover on August 20 was a side-by-side of both stories, with a relatively light-handed approach to Prince Andrew, who law enforcement announced they intend to depose in order to garner information for the case. (Of note, Prince Andrew, the eighth in line to the throne, also recently flew private to Spain after news of Epstein’s suicide broke on August 10.)
Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip.com has been following both stories since they broke, and she very succinctly summarizes: “How is the fact that lawyers are trying to depose Prince Andrew not THE royal story of the moment?”
Lui, who agrees that anything about climate change should be taken seriously, also goes on to write, “But putting both stories side by side suggests that the outrage over both should be the same. That Harry and Meghan flying private on holiday is the same level of egregiousness as Prince Andrew hanging out at the home of a pedophile rapist and not ever explaining whatever the f-ck he was doing spending time with that guy AFTER he was exposed to be a sex offender.”
TBH, it’s hard to know what we should even expect the royal couple to do in this situation—fly economy or take up sailing around the world? If climate change darling Greta Thunberg, who is at present sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from England to the U.S. to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit, is also catching furor from right-wing climate deniers and the like, can Harry and Meghan actually pull out a win here?
It’s fair to demand better of people in infuential positions when it comes to critical issues like climate change. But what’s unfair is using enviromental concern to thinly veil pretty obvious racism targeted at one specific person, meanwhile letting dozens of others off the hook. It’s time we acknowledge that the way Meghan Markle is being treated just isn’t OK.
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