***In light of the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the continual attacks on Harry and Meghan, it seems fitting to revisit this post***
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with all things Royal. On March 7th, the world sat enraptured as two members of the British Royal Family had a tell-all interview about their experiences over the last 3 years. There is so much to deconstruct, digest, and explore in this interview and why it matters. There is so much about the March 7th interview that is compelling. The interview hosted by Oprah is the first sit down for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan. For many, this interview was a bombshell, revelatory, and earth shattering. For me, it was mainly a confirmation of things that I had read into over the years, confirmation over the fact that Meghan was pushed out by the British Crown, and that Diana’s ending could very likely have happened again.
I look back on my childhood memories and there is one figure that emerges that was and still is a beacon for me, that of Diana, Princess of Wales. I have clear memories of watching as Princess Diana emerged in her famous revenge black dress after the press had revealed Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
I remember seeing Diana at the funeral of clothing designer Gianni Versace, and I remember the scandals that were brewing when she started to date the Egyptian billionaire Dodi Fayed. August 31, 1997 is seared into my memory when Dodi and Diana were killed in Paris. I wept as I witnessed Diana’s sons walk behind her casket.
And for me, Diana was one of the first influential figures who embodied compassion, empathy, service, and grace.
She taught me not only to be true to myself but also to reach out and help those around me.
So let us talk about the people involved with this interview. Meghan Markle, a divorced American Actress fell in love with Prince Harry, the British spare heir of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
Meghan does not have royal blood and she is biracial. While at the start, Harry and Meghan’s relationship was a modern-day fairy tale but the reality was far from it.
The British Tabloids were brutal in their coverage of the couple, specifically of Meghan. Internet trolls came out in droves and it seemed that regardless of the horrific things being printed, the British Crown and the Royal Family refused to engage, diminish, or suppress the vitriol being printed.
There are a lot of talking points on the interview, a lot of articles written about it to. One of the main points that Meghan and Harry were making was that of the attacks by the media and the lack of correction and support from the Crown.
Meghan touches on what has been playing out in social media, especially on Royal Family blogs. There is a clear distinction of those that are ardent supporters of Kate (Prince William’s wife) and those that support Meghan. The media has been heavily skewed in how they talk about these two women.
There have been lots of articles written on how the media changes its rhetoric when talking about these two women, inciting a clear villain and hero, a proper way, and a wrong way. Meghan herself remarked on this,
This idea of polarity; where If you love me, you don’t have to hate her, and if you love her you don’t have to hate me.March 7th Oprah Interview
Over the last 4 years, there is a clear distinction of how they are treated and there is a blurring of what is being presented as reality. The interview provides a concrete way for people to understand the dangers of confusing people’s lives with what is being reporting. Meghan and Harry have suffered immensely from this. Meghan stated in the interview,
When the perception and the reality are two very different things, and you are being judged on the perception of it but are living the reality. There is a complete misalignment. And there is no way to explain it to peopleMarch 7th Oprah Interview
Meghan used an example of photos from a public event her and Harry attended where it looks like they were happy, but the reality was much more weighted.
Meghan revealed that earlier that day she found courage to talk to Harry about her declining mental health and the rise of suicidal thoughts and her attendance that night was because she knew she could not be left alone. Paired with this is also the media’s constant harping on Harry and Meghan’s continual displays of holding hands and affection. Both of which are highly discouraged by royal protocol during public events. With the revelation by Meghan the photos in question are not a disregard of British protocol but Harry and Meghan literally holding onto each for dear life.
The interview is a PSA for the very real experiences of declining mental health and the courage it takes to reach out and ask for help. They both stated that the British Crown and the Royal Family willingly denied help, assistance, and support to Meghan (just like they did with Diana.) Harry subtly talked about the toxic environment that is in the royal family that mental health issues are not supported or treated. Harry affirms one of the major themes found in the Netflix show “The Crown” that members of the Royal Family are trapped into a vicious unhealthy relationships and cycles.
Some of the residual things that I have carried not just from this interview but also from Princess Diana’s story, is that the romantic fairy tales that we have perpetuated about being royal, about being in the public eye has damaging effects. Mental health issues affect everyone at any time in their lives and their stigmas are still there. There are deep seeded misogynistic and racist beliefs which we need to continue to talk about and root out. What I also know is that Diana would be so proud of Harry and Meghan not only in the private life they have but in their continual mission to be of service to our world.
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is currently teaching at Saint Louis University. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She is focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them.