Ever since the fairytale wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Meghan’s independent spirit has challenged the traditional regime. Meghan is an American, an actress, a divorcee, and an outspoken feminist – characteristics atypical of the conservative Royal Family. Because of this, the American duchess has battled intense criticism and negative press over the past two years, often remarking on her biracial heritage and career as an actress. The unrelenting tabloids began to take a toll on Meghan’s mental health. Meghan admitted her struggles in an ITV documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, saying in an interview, “not that many people ask me if I am ok.” The media attacks also pushed the couple to file a lawsuit against a British tabloid last year.
Image via Flickr, by Mark Jones
On January 8, 2020, Meghan and Harry announced that they will be stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family. Instead of issuing a formal announcement, the couple revealed their decision via caption in an Instagram post through their account, @SussexRoyal. While unconventional, their use of social media is representative of Meghan and Harry’s modern style compared to the traditional practices of British royalty. To make the news more shocking, the couple did not consult anyone else in the Royal Family before making this statement.
In the post, Harry and Meghan explain that they hoped to “carve out a progressive new role” within the establishment. This would involve splitting their residence between the United Kingdom and North America and refusing to accept taxpayer money. However, ten days later, the couple reached a severance deal with the Royal Family that virtually eliminated them from the Royal Family by revoking their titles and privileges. In the agreement, Harry and Meghan expressed their wish to repay the $3 million dollars of public funds that they used to renovate their house, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor. This royal exit has been dubbed, “Megxit,” as a nod to the divisive political controversy over Brexit that has engrossed the nation for the past few years. Reaction to the ordeal is largely split by age and political affiliation, similar to that of Brexit lines. Amidst the wave of nationalistic fervor sparked by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, older conservatives are passionately supportive of the Royal Family – an establishment that is symbolic of British identity – in the Megxit debate. However, younger liberals who voted to stay in the European Union tend to be more sympathetic to the couple and respectful of their decision to step away from the constraints of royal life to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Meghan is quick to embrace her newfound freedom. On Monday, January 7, she was seen taking a walk with her baby son, Archie, and dogs on Vancouver Island. She was wearing leggings, a beanie, and duck boots – an outfit that violates the rigid fashion rules she had to follow for the past two years. Her refusal to conform to the outdated rules of the Royal Family and her courage to forge her own path is an inspiring symbol of the progressive spirit. She is a powerful example of a modern woman who made a decision to remove herself from a system that was damaging to her mental health and well-being.