The Problem With Those Headlines About Meghan Markle & Her Staff? They’re Sexist.

Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
A staff member who works closely with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has announced that she is leaving her position. Despite what tabloids would have you believe, this is not nearly as dramatic as it sounds.
Amy Pickerill, the assistant private secretary who transferred from the Kensington Palace press operation and has been working closely with Prince Harry and Markle since at least the beginning of 2018, has announced that she is leaving her position. According to her LinkedIn, she has been working for the royal family since September 2016. Pickerill intends to leave and spend some time living abroad once the position can be filled, People reports.
Advertisement
The narrative surrounding Pickerill’s departure is that she quit suddenly, supporting the narrative that Markle must be difficult to work for. When rumors of that tenor first emerged, they were just that — rumors. Tabloids claimed that Markle’s staff were “reduced to tears by the royal’s demands,” that she is “demanding,” and some even go as far as to refer to her as “Duchess Difficult.” All these rumors do is sustain a sexist notion that women who are high achievers in the workplace are hard to work for or with — their defying of gender norms gets them painted with a slew of negative words and feedback such as picky, demanding, difficult, high-maintenance, etc., rather than calling them leaders.
Photo: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images
The reality is: Prince Harry and Markle are in a stage of great transition. They are coming up on their first wedding anniversary, they are expecting their first child, they are renovating and moving into Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate, and they are splitting courts with Prince William and Kate Middleton. During this time, staff has come alongside them to aid in the transition, and not all of the roles were permanent from the onset, such as Samantha Cohen, who took over the role of Prince Harry’s private secretary on an interim basis after Edward Lane Fox left.
Upon closer inspection, a lot of the turnover and changes can be explained by the life changes in the couple’s lives and the evolution of their roles within the royal family. They are splitting courts, which has less to do with Prince Harry and Meghan moving to Frogmore Cottage and more to do with Prince Harry and Prince William’s roles looking different with time. They oversee different things and therefore need separate teams to assist them. No matter what the tabloids try to tell us, it is more like a business splitting a department into two teams as they specialize in different areas rather than a personal feud.
Markle is using her position of influence to speak out on important issues such as women’s rights and gender equality, but instead of being seen as a leader, she is being criticized for one of the oldest sexist insults in the book – not being nice enough. Moreover, not being nice enough in situations that are only rumored.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series