Meghan Markle is more than just the American princess. She's also a lifelong humanitarian and feminist, who works tirelessly to promote her charitable endeavours — and did so long before she got to Windsor Castle. However, as Meghan and husband Prince Harry await the arrival of their first child, the tabloids have been anything but kind to the Duchess of Sussex. A new report from Vanity Fair suggests that bias against Black women in power could be the reason why.
It's easy to find an article that declares Meghan is bossy with her staff, petty with sister-in-law Kate Middleton, and perpetually ruffling feathers in the royal family with her undignified decisions — such as her choice to have a pricy American baby shower. Some tabloids even criticized her for holding her belly too often, which isn't uncommon for pregnant women to do.
Could the fact that Meghan is of mixed race be the reason why? While many people celebrated the fact that a Black woman is now British royalty, intrinsic bias could be the thing causing tabloids to pick at Meghan during her happiest time, author Alyssa Cole told Vanity Fair.
"[The backlash was] basically white journalists mad that she dare appear to be happy and glowing," said Cole, author of book series Reluctant Royals. "Meanwhile, any pregnant white celebrity can hop on the cover of a magazine naked and cupping her belly."
Maiysha Kai, managing editor of the Root’s fashion and beauty site, the Glow Up, echoed that statement to Vanity Fair.
"You see it in the reporting about Meghan, but people don’t want to speak honestly about the real issue: they don’t believe a Black woman has a place in the royal family...There is this sense that she’s never going to be enough."
The media routinely depict Black women by the media as angry or undignified. It wasn't too long ago that Meghan's friend, Serena Williams, was criticized for speaking out when an umpire allegedly robbed her of points during a tennis match.
While women, in general, are criticized when they are anything but polite and playing by all the rules, Black women who dare stand up for themselves are especially vulnerable to unfair stereotypes.
Meghan has conviction and routinely speaks about her beliefs, which makes her an icon to may. To others, though, her outspokenness is out of line.
The one silver lining is that the media may ease up on Meghan after the royal baby is born.
"They build someone up and put them on a pedestal, and when they can’t find anything more to say, they start knocking them down,” said royal historian Coryne Hall. "[After the royal baby is born, news coverage of Meghan] will go the other way again. She won’t do any wrong."
That may be the case, as criticizing a new mother seems particularly low, even for tabloids. However, it doesn't fix the real issue here, which is that the tabloids may never treat a Black princess as they do the white royals.