Meghan Markle, Actress and Humanitarian, to Wed Prince Harry

In an announcement released on November 27th, it was revealed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been engaged for the last month. Fierce rumors and speculation of their engagement have swirled around the couple for awhile, so this news comes to no great surprise.

The pair has been dating since July 2016  and are soon to be wed in the spring. Meghan Markle is an American actress famous for her role as Rachel Zane on the long-running USA Network drama Suits, a humanitarian who was the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, as well as the editor-in-chief of The Tig, her personal lifestyle brand and website. Of course media coverage has reduced her to a divorced, fame hungry American, lucky to be marrying into the British royal family, as estranged family members and childhood friends have come pouring out of the woodwork, eager to sell childhood photographs and tales of Markle’s previous two year marriage.

Despite this controversy, there has been much excitement surrounding the fact that the British royal family is finally getting a black princess. Although, technically, Meghan Markle may not be a true princess (or the first black royal family member as some historians believe Queen Charlotte was) because she is not of royal blood, she will be declared either the Duchess of Sussex or Her Royal Highness, Princess Henry of Wales. Either way, people, especially black women, are thrilled.


This is a hugely important move not only because it's an historic event but it's also  symbolic. Great Britain and its royal family is guilty of colonizing much of the world, including Africa, and stripping away natural resources, demolishing cultural identities and enslaving people, so to finally have a black person in the royal family is monumental. As the New York Times called it, they [Prince Harry and Prince William] are a “new generation of royals eager to project themselves as modern, inclusive and down-to-earth”. This is certainly demonstrative of that. A biracial, previously, divorced, American actress in the British royal family may go against their mold of the typical royal family member, but Markle is representative of many biracial citizens, especially children, who now have a real-life princess (or duchess) that looks like them.

This announcement, however, has been met with a deluge of sexist, racist and classist media coverage and remarks. Meghan Markle, is proudly biracial which she wrote about in Elle magazine in 2015. Markle writes about the pain of witnessing her mother be called the n-word, being asked what she is by strangers and of being told when she was young to fill in the box “white” on a questionnaire because that’s what she looked like. She discussed her troubles finding roles in Hollywood because she was ethnically ambiguous, but she “wasn't black enough for the black roles and [she] wasn't white enough for the white ones”. Markle writes about how viewers reacted with disgust when they realized her character and her were biracial. Similarly, media coverage has been ignorant at best.

Elle magazine, the same magazine that published Markle’s story, had a slideshow about the “7 Times Meghan Markle Looked Like Pippa Middleton.” Pippa Middleton is white, and saying that Markle looks like Middleton because she has a tan erases Markle’s biracial identity. Disgustingly, The Daily Mail had a racist headline entitled “Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed - so will he be dropping by for tea?” Another Daily Mail article called Markle’s mother “a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks” and Markle’s looks “exotic”.

Prince Harry made a rare statement condemning these articles and online vitriol as “racist” and “sexist” and rightfully so. Clearly, despite the joy of this historic event, the societal change it represents and the symbolism of a black princess, this by no means is indicative of a post-racial Britain, or any tripe like that. Racism is still a tremendous problem in Great Britain and America. After all, would a dark-skinned, dreadlocked Meghan Markle be even palatable to the media? However, there is hope. To quote Ms. Meghan Markle, herself, from her aforementioned Elle article, “While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”

Here’s to you Meghan Markle, your engagement, and to fact that there’s finally a strong, mixed-race woman in the British royal family.