This week people seem obsessed with all things Meghan Markle and by people — I mean me.
Let’s be honest, on Wednesday, most of us with a pulse collectively clutched our pearls and gasped in amazement as Markle and her husband Prince Harry threw up the deuces. Essentially, they told the monarchy they were quitting their jobs as senior members of the royal family and were going it alone to pursue other endeavors.
This may be the first time in history that someone has publicly quit their family in order to focus more on their work. But what makes this shake up even more notable is just how quickly the same British press that had been mercilessly attacking Markle for the last two years suddenly acted stunned that she’d made the decision to actually break up with their toxic a**es.
Watching the Brits reaction to Harry actually choosing his wife over the gilded cage that is the royal family has been a fascinating illustration of what happens when privileged parties get a reality check that not everyone is playing by the same rules as them.
While blowhard Piers Morgan and the Daily Mail were playing checkers, both Harry and Meghan have been playing chess all along. And as a result, the rest of us now get to behold what happens after a bunch of stuffy rich white people suddenly find themselves at the mercy of a mixed-race Black woman who grew up right outside of Compton.
Let the gaslighting begin
We’ve all seen this scene play out in Lifetime movies: an abusive husband slaps his wife around endlessly while drunk off his own power, and when she finally gets the gumption to pack up the kids and leave him, suddenly he plays the victim and acts as if she’s overreacting to a small misunderstanding.
This blatant retelling of history in order to manipulate the sensibilities of those who have been abused is called “gaslighting” and it’s a wonder the British papers didn’t get whiplash from how quickly they spun the story of the Sussex family around so they could paint themselves (and the British public) as the true victims in all this.
“Look at the reception that Meghan had when she arrived here,” royal biographer Penny Junor said during a recent appearance on CBS This Morning. “We took her to our hearts. The British were thrilled about her marrying into the royal family, and they were thrilled because she was mixed-race. That was one real plus.”
This lie was so bold even the usually tactful Gayle King had to call her out by noting that since-fired BBC Radio host Danny Baker describing the royal baby as a “chimp” because he has a Black mother is actually very decidedly racist.
At this point Junor, who had been doing her best to appear like a harmless and agreeable spokesperson for the British media, began to stutter in visible discomfort. Then she got so confused she accidentally said “coloured people” on-air, a term I suspect pales in comparison to what she calls us in private.
“I don’t believe race is a factor,” Penny Junor says of the treatment of Meghan Markle. pic.twitter.com/uMtPV97es2
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 13, 2020
This is better than ‘Game of Thrones’
Junor’s flustered response to a reasonable and direct question from a Black American woman who isn’t in the mood to be played with, is actually the perfect snapshot of what’s taken place since Meghan was revealed to be Prince Harry’s choice as a mate.
By now it’s safe to say that over the last two years Markle’s mere existence has managed to stir our friends across the pond into such a tizzy that even their usual English restraint has fallen by the wayside and in its absence revealed just how much disdain British people have for Black and Brown folks. A fact that up until this point many Brits had denied, with half-hearted quips like, “We’re not as obsessed with race in England as you Americans are.”
Oooooh really? I do believe the receipts (or in this case — the headlines) say otherwise.
There are currently about two dozen or so split screens that have gone viral this week showing how Kate Middleton, wife of Harry’s older brother, Prince William, was coddled by the press throughout her newlywed years and pregnancy while Markle was repeatedly characterized as a spoiled and entitled attention seeker just for cradling her baby bump.
In fact, our friends over at Buzzfeed even compiled their own list of their 20 top favorite hypocritical media moments when white journalists went out of their way to create a conflict surrounding Markle even when there was none.
Meghan Markle said “I don’t need this kind of negative energy in my life”
This is a WHOLE MOOD!!!!! https://t.co/0wfN25DJ2l
— Bryson Howard (@BrysonHoward24) January 14, 2020
Now some may say, “Well if it’s the press who are attacking the Duke and Duchess of Sussex why are they taking it out on their innocent family?”
But is their family really all that innocent though? Because one could easily counter-argue that since the royal family maintained a cordial relationship with the same UK publications, editors, and press who were attacking Harry and Megan with fanatical glee — while conversely covering William and Kate like two ivory pillars of perfection — they are just as complicit in this fracture as anyone else.
Where I come from, family protects it’s own. And as much as I can tell the royals usually feel the same. So why is this time any different?
Even further, did anyone else peep how Morgan only wrote a handful of articles about Prince Andrew being caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal while spending every other waking moment of his miserable existence slamming Markle for not nailing the proper curtsey during public appearances?
In what world does a new wife and mother doing her best to appease her in-laws somehow anger Morgan more than a grown man allegedly taking part in a sex trafficking ring? If that doesn’t scream, “Get your Black a** out of our country,” I’m not sure what does.
There are so many things right about how Meghan and Prince Harry handled all this but their ability to not cuss out everyone in sight is perhaps the most commendable. I suspect that is what is annoying the British press so much. They’d hoped they could break this young woman, drag her name through the mud till she snapped and then feed off her carcass after they’d created a rift in her marriage to Harry the same way they did with Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.
The blueprint of where this was headed was clear from day one and I could just see the headline: “Angry Markle has lost her sparkle and lashed out in ghastly tirade.”
This narrative of the difficult, angry Black woman leaving a momentary smear on the monarchy has likely been perched on some editor’s mantle for two years now, just waiting for a reason — any reason — to be dusted off and disseminated on a world stage.
The insistence that coverage of Meghan Markle hasn’t been racist shows how poorly racism is understood and talked about by large sections of the media. pic.twitter.com/ueT5hAE7fB
— Maya Goodfellow (@MayaGoodfellow) January 14, 2020
And yet, it never happened.
Meghan kept her cool, even when her voice cracked on camera and you could see the tears welling up in her eyes. The spirit of all the Black women who had come before her stood at her side as she put on a brave smile and waved to crowds of people who she knew considered her unworthy of her throne.
Just when folks forgot just who the f**k she was… the Compton jumped out and she bounced on their asses with her baby and their prince in tow. Some will call this the greatest scam of all time, others will see it as a stunning love story. I simply see it as karmic retribution.
We’re only two weeks into this new decade and Meghan Markle has already managed to snatch off the Queen’s wig and left her exposed with nothing but her dusty, thinning cornrows underneath — so to speak.
Is it crazy that I lowkey/highkey feel like Markle’s Black ancestors all joined forces in the other realm and had something to do with this delicious irony? Because just the optics of a Black woman taking down an empire that was once the most dominant bastion of white supremacy in the world… is deeply satisfying to me in ways I have yet to fully unpack.
What a time to be alive! Black history month came early this year folks, and I’m all the way here for it.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric