How the Media's Mistreatment of Meghan Markle Led to Megxit

In 2017, photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games, in Toronto, stirred the tabloids’ curiosity into knowing everything about the potential royal candidate. The couple were seen laughing and holding hands, and the British press shifted its attention to the mysterious woman who caught the red headed royal’s attention.

The media scrutinised this woman’s life and began to intrude in the everyday lives of her closest relatives, possibly with the intention to retrieve scandalous information about her to represent her negatively to the British public. This relentless persecution by the press resulted in a royal statement being published online. In the document, there are several references to how the media tried to gain information about Meghan: by contacting, bribing or in some cases invading the properties of her family and ex-husband. Here, Prince Harry expressed his concern over her “safety” and the “wave of abuse and harassment” that emerged against his new girlfriend.

Image by Alfred Derks 

Perhaps the media scrutiny regarding this new possible addition to the Royal Family was motivated by the fact that she was not considered the most ‘suitable’ candidate for the important position. Meghan initially gained widespread acclaim during her role as Rachel Zane in the legal drama Suits. The media chose to ignore Meghan’s established career as an actress and her involvement in humanitarian campaigns. Instead, questioning the possibility of an American national being a part of the British royal family. Additionally, Meghan’s private life underwent examination and her previous divorce was immediately viewed as an unfavourable quality for the future Duchess of Sussex. Being a popular actress was not enough to prepare Meghan for the defamation she would suffer after being linked to Prince Harry.

Image by Avel Chuklanov

The ruthless scrutiny by the media did not stop the couple from getting married in 2018. Soon after this, they embarked on their first royal tour together, where the news of an additional member of the family, Archie, was announced. During their visit to Africa, ITV shot a documentary where they exclusively interviewed the couple. When talking to Meghan about the role of the media in her life, the Duchess mentioned that her friends discouraged her from progressing with the relationship and warned that “the British tabloids will destroy your life”. Moreover, Harry said that he “won’t be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum”, referencing the fact that the Prince was only twelve when his mother, Diana, died in a car accident whilst being chased by the paparazzi in Paris, 1997.

Image by Clem Onojeghuo

Harry stood by his wife, stating that “to stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in" when the press was damaging Meghan’s reputation by spreading false information about her. Last October, Meghan took legal action after the Mail on Sunday, without her consent, published a private letter she had written to her father. She wrote that her father taking interviews and giving information about their relationship did not please her. In fact, there has been wide speculation as to why the two are not on speaking terms anymore. However, the newspaper defended the story and said it will stand by its actions. Many, including Hillary Clinton, argued that the treatment that she received from the press was “heart-breaking and wrong”.  

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On the other hand, there are outspoken individuals, like Piers Morgan, who do not see Meghan as a victim of unfair treatment by the media. Morgan wrote that the American press, like CNN or The Washington Post, was wrongly accusing the British media of having issues with race, calling the accusation “garbage”. Furthermore, when earlier this month the couple announced on Instagram that they would step back from their royal duties, he tweeted: “People say that I’m too critical of Meghan Markle – but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William and has now split him from the Royal Family”. The BBC, instead, took a more impartial view on the matter, publishing a video where they interviewed members of the public about their opinion. From the video, it is clear that the nation is divided on the matter, with one individual saying, “people should probably back off” from criticising Meghan, and another stating that the Prince “is totally dominated by Meghan Markle”.

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Many criticise Meghan for taking too drastic a measure against this undesired attention by the British press. However, it seems like the focus is only directed at Meghan’s ‘unfit’ position as a member of the Royal Family, whilst ignoring Harry’s ‘bachelor’ past and defiance of the strict royal code are also controversial. Furthermore, it is important to consider that Meghan is not the first to be subjected to the abuse of the tabloids as previous girlfriends of the Prince have had similar difficulties. His ex-girlfriends, Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, have both hinted that the media attention was hard to handle. Perhaps Meghan’s decisions to sue the Mail on Sunday and to take a break from the public eye do not seem so drastic after all.

I understand that the important position Meghan is holding within the Royal family inevitably brings attention from the media, but this does not justify her being treated with less respect than anybody else. Everyone does have a right to privacy and they should not have to put up with intrusions to their personal life. The tabloids have constantly infiltrated the private lives of public figures in an attempt to produce news. It is time they turned to other areas of news rather than using people's private lives as a focal point of their stories. 

 

Words by Yasmine Moro Virion.

Edited by Fran Holmes.