As we grow up the majority of us are given a fantasized version of what life as a royal is like. We see images of beautiful gowns, wealth, and a prince to sweep a beautiful woman off her feet to live happily ever after in a big castle. Our educational systems focus on the money, power, and aristocracy of being a royal. Perpetuating the stereotype that it’s something we commoners should all wish for and would be blessed should one among us be chosen to marry into the royal institution. In their first official American sit down interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry threw a well informed rock at that image, shattering the fairytale, and letting the world know that the British monarchy is still fueled and ran on centuries old colonialism and racism. Even in 2021.
The obvious notion is that there is so much to unpack and process. Of course there will be outlets and people that will try to deflect the truth of what Meghan and Harry have shared by focusing on the black and white Armani silk wrap dress that she wore. The irony of it is that the main focus of this interview was the issue of race. Black and white race. The Royal’s issues with Meghan’s race. Maybe she was subconsciously reminding the monarchy of what this interview was about, that they’ve done little to nothing to protect and stand up for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, why they and many in the British media have tried to destroy her character and harass her to the point of suicidal thoughts, and why members of this institution would dare to question and worry about how dark their son would be. All taking place in a time where so much is being said about racial equality and the demand for leaders to stand against it globally is high. While the reasoning for Meghan’s outfit choice will be left in the land of Assumption, Meghan and Harry reminded the world that racism still exists and it still exists in the royal family. Thus destroying the idea that the royals have welcomed changed and progressed with the times.
Harry and Meghan have both been champions of change and global equality both in their single lives and in marriage. They have vowed to stay committed to making it their life work to continue to give marginalized people groups a voice and a platform. So it should come to no surprise of how freeing they were in this conversation with Oprah. They found their voice and spoke very candidly. No question was off limits. Being free of any restrictions, Meghan and Harry basically confirmed what many of us already knew in our hearts and minds. It was like they could finally breathe and just be the beautiful family they’ve always dreamed. Harry can finally live the dream of having a life with a sense of normality. Something that eclipsed his mother, the late Princess Diana. Harry showed the world and perhaps reminded the royal family that like his mother he will always stand up for his family, speak on what is right, and call out wrong doing. Even if that means sacrificing the titles, financial comfort, and family communication. Character traits that made the world fall in love and respect Princess Diana. Character traits that Harry found and has seen in Meghan time and time again.
The world is changing and moving forward, but with this interview we see that white supremacy is still trying to keep clutches in the hands of time. Trying to make it seem that the white race is superior. That people of color are inferior and somehow we should be ashamed and insecure about it. Meghan is a mixed race woman. That is never changing. She has never hid her identity and is devoted and proud of her mother, Doria Ragland. A proud and beautiful Black woman. That is never changing. The lack of protection and support that the monarchy failed to provide Meghan continues to remind us that no matter if one of your parents is white, there are still institutions that will still see you as a person of color and deemed less than.The full acceptance and protection of Meghan and her son would have been a good and beautiful opportunity for the monarchy to move forward and create a more peaceful and inclusive space in the United Kingdom. A sentiment that could have been echoed and heralded around the world. Having the monarchy be seen as the leaders that many have been taught or hoped they would be. Could have. A missed opportunity indeed and that can never be reversed.
Time will move forward and hopefully heal the wounds of the deeply fractured family that is the house of Windsor. Meghan and Harry will welcome their baby girl and complete their little family. They will continue to teach their children that they matter, and are deeply loved and valued. As women of color we should hear Meghan’s story and remind ourselves that when we find ourself drowning in a sea of despair that it’s our right and is essential to use our voice to call out for help. Call out our truth. If your truth is that you don’t feel like living and you are scared, it is your right to speak up and reach out. Tell whomever you can and don’t stop. You will find someone to hear you and support you, because you matter. As the Duchess of Sussex reminds us “it takes courage to speak up.”