LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – Today’s International Women’s Day, not sure if OprahWinfrey and her team planned to have this explosive interview with Meghan & Harry drop on this day. But as a human, as a woman and as a black woman I cannot help but feel Meghan’s pain and there seems to be an unsaid consensus in the black community that we need to rally around Meghan and her family and protect them, the same way my parents’ generation rallied around Princess Diana.
Before we get into the highly anticipated interview, let’s take a few steps back and look at Meghan & Harry’s love story.
July 2016: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are set up on a blind date
October 2016: It is first reported that the two are dating.
When reports of their relationship started flying around, I noticed a certain tone in British papers and all-over social media. I saw a Daily Mail article that nearly made me collapse, not only was I offended as a black woman but as a journalist, I didn’t understand how an editor would have approved such an outrageous headline:
EXCLUSIVE: Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outtaCompton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed – so will he be dropping by for tea?
Just months into their relationship the British press felt the need to constantly speak about Meghan’s blackness despite her being one of the lightest black women I’ve ever come across. Every day it was a different headline that had racial slurs. From a human standpoint, this made me very uncomfortable because I was watching an innocent woman being attacked every day by these papers for no reason but falling in love with a Prince. As a black woman, it was even harder to see because the British press is always painting black women in a negative light. If it’s not Serena Williams being printed on the front page of papers and being called aggressive at Wimbledon just for being frustrated like any other athlete, it’s black women have an attitude or we’re too loud. Something about black women being successful or being in positions of power seems to enrage a certain group of people in the UK.
November 2016: Kensington Palace releases a statement confirming Harry and Markle’s relationship while calling out the “wave of abuse and harassment” directed at her.
At this point, the abuse Meghan was getting was out of control and uncalled for, so I was happy to see the Palace step up and call out the abuse and harassment Meghan was receiving. This was also the first time we saw Harry protecting Meghan which was beautiful to see. The statement said:
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
After this, it seemed like the public abuse from the press died down. I guess a letter from the Palace gets people a little rattled.
April 2017: Markle shuts down her lifestyle blog.
We started seeing Meghan stop her successful career as an actress and a lifestyle blogger so that she could be the perfect princess. At this point, that’s when I knew she really must love this man because after all that abuse most people would have run for the hills.
November 2017: Prince Harry proposes to Markle at their home while she is cooking a roast chicken.
November 2017: Prince Harry proposes to Markle at their home while she is cooking a roast chicken.
The Princess Diary moment that Meghan and Harry’s lovers have been waiting for finally happened. This is when the reality of what this all means kicked in. The British monarchy is about to have their first black princess! I’ll never forget the gorgeous white coat Meghan was wearing, they both just looked so happy and in love.
May 19, 2018: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle as millions watch.
Up until this point apart from her sister Samantha talking to the press and her dad. We didn’t know much about Meghan’s other side of the family. So, seeing her mum at the star stubbed wedding was a delight, seeing her proudly walk into St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with the beautiful dreadlocks brought tears to my eyes. Who would have thought the mighty British empire would one day welcome a black woman into the royal family. It was a historic moment, to say the least. Meghan brought a lot of her culture to the wedding an American bishop and a fabulous black choir though this had me standing on my feet clapping and dancing a lot of people were not happy with the ceremony and the racial slurs quickly came back on social media and the press.
October 2018: The royals announce Markle is pregnant with their first child.
When the couple announced they were having their first child most people were happy for the couple well, so I thought… the narrative quickly shifted to Meghan and Harry spendingtaxpayer’s money to renovate their new home. I’m sure this is not the first time the royal family has used taxpayer’s money so why was it a big deal that Meghan and Harry did? At this point, you can’t help but notice that this couple is being unfairly treated and once again the constant newspaper headlines about the couple began. And you can’t help but wonder if her race is playing a part.
This opened the flood gates for more abuse and a comparison between Meghan and her sister in law Kate:
Kate: “Bumping along nicely! The Duchess was seen placing a protective hand on her tummy as she exited the event.” Daily Mail: March 22, 2018
Meghan: “Personally, I find the cradling a bit like those signs in the back of cars: Baby on Board. Virtue signalling, as though the rest of us barren harridans deserve to burn alive in our cars.” Daily Mail: Jan. 26, 2019
Kate and William: “Prince William was given one of the green fruit – wrapped up in a bow – by a little boy who’smother is suffering during her pregnancy too… ‘He said he’d take it to [Kate] and see what happens – and said good luck for [the boy’s] mummy.'” Express: Sept. 14, 2017
Meghan: “The pregnant Duchess of Sussex and so-called ‘avocado on toast whisperer’ is wolfing down a fruit linked to water shortages, illegal deforestation and all-round general environmental devastation.” Express: Jan. 23, 2019
Kate and William: “Creating their own companies will allow William and Kate to bring out, should they ever chose to, myriad items of officially-endorsed merchandise from tea towels to coffee cups… Kensington Palace officials said they were doing the sensible thing’ in protecting the couple’s rights.” Daily Mail: Jan. 17, 2014
Meghan and Harry: “The Sussexes want to stamp their name on dozens of products including T-shirts, hoodies, journals and gloves for their newly-created foundation Sussex Royal… Experts said Harry and Meghan were actively preparing to quit the Royal Family months ago by filing trademark applications to commercially protect their brand.” Daily Mail: Jan. 9, 2020
We could be here all day listing all these headlines but I’m sure you get where I’m going with all this.
May 2019: Prince Harry and Markle’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, is born.
Instead of the couple enjoying this moment many had taken to social media and started with the black baby jokes including BBC reporter Danny Baker who took to Twitter and uploaded a tweet that I was very offended by.
The tweet featured a black-and-white photograph of a couple holding hands with a chimp dressed in a suit alongside the caption: “Royal baby leaves hospital”.
We all know the racial contentions associated with black people and monkeys. Football fans throw bananas at black football players all the time and make monkey chants. For centuries the West has found it useful to compare black people to monkeys. This statement was racist, and Danny knew what he was trying to say when he posted that picture. What I also found very disturbing was the fact that this man works for the BBC, this man in control of narratives the public see’s. British people are very good at being politically correct, so a lot of racism has gone unnoticed. Despite the BBC firing Danny the damage had already been done. And it was now clear that this united front the UK puts on isn’t accurate a lot of people in the UK are still very racist and they just needed a black princess and a black royal baby for them to show their true colours.
October 2019: Meghan and Harry announce they are suing Associated Newspapers after the Daily Mail published a private letter sent by Markle to her father.
This publication has been at the forefront of abusing Meghan with racist headlines and ridiculous stories.
October 2019: Multiple news outlets report that Harry and Markle will take a six-week break from royal duties and spend the holidays in Canada with her mother.
At this point, we now start seeing Meghan & Harry moving away from royal life and creating their own lane. After all the abuse and slander, honestly who would blame them. Especially knowing the history with Princess Diana.
January 2020: The couple shares their decision to be “financially independent” and take a “step back” from the royal family.
January 2020: Prince Harry speaks about the decision to step back from his royal duties, saying, “There really was no other option.”
March 2020: Markle and Prince Harry return to the UK for their final engagements as senior royals.
April 2020: The royal couple cuts all ties with four British tabloids.
July 2020: Harry and Markle purchase their first home together in Santa Barbara, California.
People were speculating about what caused them to move away, many even painted the narrative that Harry was weak, and Meghan was the one controlling him and making him leave his family. But that’s not what I saw! I saw a man who loved his wife and child and wanted to protect this family from the press and from some for his family members. I saw a couple that was driven out of the family because they were not accepted like everyone else.
September 2020: It’s announced that Markle and Prince Harry have founded their own production company and signed a deal with Netflix.
November 2020: Markle pens an op-ed revealing she had a miscarriage in July.
So many women experience miscarriages but very few talkabout it, Meghan took a very courageous step and opened up about losing her child.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” she wrote. “Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
After reading the letter in the New York Times I was heartbroken for her but there was a group in society who saw this as another opportunity to mock Meghan, call her an attention seeker and all sorts of names. I just couldn’t understand why they hated her so much. Everything she did seemed to trigger abuse.
February 14, 2021: Meghan Markle wins her case against Associated Newspapers and thanks to her husband for his support.
February 14, 2021: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announce they are expecting their second child.
February 19, 2021: Buckingham Palace confirms Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will no longer work on behalf of the royal family.
March 2021: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s sit-down, tell-all interview with Oprah airs in the US and the UK.
Just days before this interview CBS started dropping small snippets from the interview and I’m sure that rattled the Palace who usually have so much control over what members of the royal family are saying. The UK Times published an article citing sources who claimed that Meghan drove out two personal assistants from her Kensington Palace household and undermined the confidence of a third staff member. In response to this Buckingham Palace said they would investigate allegations that Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, bullied several staff members. I personally don’t believe these allegations but let’s they are true, why wait 3 years to bring this up? Why was this not mentioned before? For me, this felt like someone wanted to undermine Meghan and make her look bad just before she’s about to reveal things the royal family don’t want the world to know. This was just another opportunity for the British press to push a false narrative centred around making Meghan look like a villain.
The buildup of this interview has been nail-biting. Prince Philip was admitted into hospital with an infection and a preexisting condition, for someone who’s 99 this isn’t abnormal. The likes of Daily Mail started another hate campaign towards Meghan publishing headlines such as:
Royal experts and fans call on CBS to postpone broadcast of Oprah’s explosive two-hour Harry and Meghan interview out of respect for Prince Philip, 99, as he’s moved for specialist care at a heart hospital.
Despite all the push back ITV won Meghan and Prince Harry’s Interview with Oprah and the interview aired and boy was it eye opening and explosive! Several points stood out to me:
Concerns about Archies skin colour• Meghan told Oprah that an unnamed member of the family raised the issue of how dark their unborn baby Archie’s skin would be while she was pregnant. There were several “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born,” she said. My heart sank when I heard this, it took me back to the colonial era where black people were seen as less than. It’s as if the royal family would be ashamed to have a brown family member, which then makes me wonder how they feel about Meghan or her mother who’s even darker than her.• During an interview with CBS the day after the premiere of the interview, Oprah did confirm that the Queen & Prince Philip had nothing to do with the conservation about Archies skin colour and Harry wanted people to know this. So, who is so powerful in the institution to have such a question?
Archie not being given a title or security • “They didn’t want him to be a prince . . . which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” she told Oprah. This is mind-blowing for me what makes Archie different from all the other royal kids? In as much as we don’t want to bring this down to race, I do wonder if Meghan was white would Archie be treated differently? And we were made to believe that Meghan and Harry made this decision when really, they were not given a choice.
Meghan feeling suicidal • Meghan also told Oprah she struggled with her mental health due to the intense pressures of being in the Royal Family, and that she had suicidal thoughts. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she said.• “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember, I remember how [Harry] just cradled me and I was… I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution. Last year we saw the power negative British press can have when Caroline Flack took her own life. Mental health is a cause the Royals have backed for a long-time hearing Meghan saying that she contemplated taking her own life and that she wasn’t able or allowed to get the help she needed is shocking.
Harry cut off financially • Another eyebrow-raising moment was when Harry revealed that the royal family “literally cut me off financially” after he and Meghan stepped back as working royals.• Harry said that he was cut off in the first quarter of 2020 — shortly after he and Meghan announced they would step back as senior members of the royal family. He added that he had the money left to him by his late mother, Princess Diana. “Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” he said.• Harry added, “All I wanted was enough money to get security and keep my family safe.” Some members of the royal family even suggested Meghan go back to acting so she could pay for her own security…I don’t know how much the royal family has but would the security of Archie & Meghan cause the royal family to go into bankruptcy? probably not, so the question here is why is it difficult for the royal family to treat Archie the same way Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louise are treated? does being black play a part in the way they see him as a member of the royal family? Though the interview clarified a lot of questions it also left me with so many more questions. And I hope the Palace respond. I won’t even get into the Royal family still supporting Prince Andrew despite all the drama and scandals he’s been associated with.
Who is calling all the shots? According to this interview, Harry and the Queen are close, she likes Meghan, so which royal member is causing this rift? Who is really in charge of the “Firm”? I feel like this interview showed us a very different and dark side of the royal family. It was raw, candid and sad to watch. We saw a similar moment when Princess Diana had an interview with Panorama in 1995.
#Protect Meghan started trending on Twitter after the interview premiered and I think protecting Meghan should be a priority, so history doesn’t repeat itself. Women of colourare always subjects to abuse in the media which was echoed by Meghan’s friend Serena Williams who penned a letter in support of Meghan and Harry’s interview:
“Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life —and leads by example — with empathy and compassion,” wrote Williams.
“I know first-hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimize us, to break up down and demonize us,” Williams’ statement reads. “We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systematic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.”
“I want Meghan’s daughter, my daughter and your daughter to live in a society that is driven by respect,” Williams continued. “Keep in your memory the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”
Samantha Tapfumaneyi is a freelance presenter/journalist. Currently working at CNN International. She has also worked with numerous other companies in the UK including BBC, Channel 5 News, Swindon 105.5, Model United Nations, Invictus Games & Many More. This has given her the opportunity to report at places such as Downing Street.