Following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first official visit this month to Nottingham, we at JAN Trust wanted to congratulate the happy couple on their engagement. Furthermore, we have been considering the treatment of Markle by the British media since her and Price Harry’s relationship became public knowledge.
It has been hard to escape the fact that Meghan Markle has not had an easy time, the media have distributed tasteless articles with sexist and racist undertones at every turn.
The ensuing press coverage, following the discovery of their relationship focused on Markle’s mixed heritage. Markle was subject to such harassment and abuse, that Prince Harry released an official statement on the 8th of November 2016 which condemned the hounding of Meghan. In the statement Harry said, “Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”. It went on to say that the couple had struggled with “nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of the papers.”
It is easy to see why Prince Harry’s out of the norm statement was necessary. Just a few days earlier, on the 4th of November 2016, The Sun had made Markle the focus of an article headlined, “Harry’s Girl on Pornhub,” which featured clips of Meghan from the hit American drama, Suits. The Sun issued an apology that was published over three months later.
In a Daily Mail article, Rachel Johnson saw fit to comment on the future of Meghan and Harry’s relationship, in the article Johnson stated, “the Windsor’s will thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA.” She went onto describe Markle’s mother as “a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks”. Johnson, also felt it was appropriate to inform the public that Markle is not, “official Wife Material”, and had failed her, “Mum Test”. Another Daily Mail headline read, “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton”, referencing the hit film Straight Outta Compton based in Los Angeles, where Markle is from and where her mother currently lives.
The Mail Online also came under fire when they posted pictures of the couple on a private beach in Jamaica back in July. The images were later removed, after a ruling by Ipso, that branded the publishing of these images as an, “unjustified intrusion”.
The Prince’s disappointment in the vulgarity of the British press’s obsession with Markle’s race appears to be reflected by many, “I feel like racism in the U.K. is pretty insidious,” said Paula Akpan, a co-founder of Black Girl Festival.
Whilst some may believe that their impending matrimony is a big step for women of colour and those of mixed heritage, it is clear that racism and malicious press behaviour are still very much a part of British society.
Hopefully, the more important aspects of Markle’s life will be of more interest to those intrigued by the humanitarian, and gender equality campaigner. Markle is not only an actress about to wed a British royal but also an entrepreneur, UN women’s advocate and an ambassador for Canada’s World Vision Water campaign, for which she has spent time visiting Rwanda.
A satirical article highlighting the irony of the mainstream media in largely failing to recognise Markle’s achievements outside of getting engaged to Prince Harry was written by NewsThump. This article highlights the irony of many of the articles published about the couple.
We at JAN Trust work to support and empower marginalised women, particularly BAME women as well as fight against racism and hate crime. We sincerely hope that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a harassment free future devoid of hurtful and stressful dealings with the media.