Updated: Jun 13
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to vilify (vill-if-fie) is ‘to speak very badly of (someone)’. This definition in itself is an understatement about what has been happening in the last 3 years to Prince Harry (the Duke of Sussex) and Meghan (the Duchess of Sussex).
In March 2021, no-one expected the claims that would come out of Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on ITV on March 8th. Meghan and Harry spoke of the many injustices they experienced as senior royal members and the challenges they faced in the 3 years they have been married. Claims like ‘Archie’s race was a factor in him not being made a prince’, Meghan ‘did not want to be alive anymore’ and concerns over ‘how dark the baby’s going to be’ were the most publicized comments from the interview bringing eyes across the globe glued to the UK and the Royal Family. Public reaction came from across the board from Canadian prime ministers to British TV hosts with public opinion torn between those who sympathise with the couple and those who believe their claims are false and tarnish the reputation of the royal family.
Polls in England conducted the day of the interview drudged up unsurprising results about the amount of sympathy the British public has for Harry and Meghan (hint: It’s not a lot). 33% of the public said they do not have any sympathy for the couple with another 23% saying they do not have very much sympathy. Also 44% of the public believe Harry and Meghan should lose their royal titles. This was bound to happen as the interview just gave Britons ‘justification’ to openly express their hate for a couple supposedly ‘attacking the royal family’ and ‘upsetting the royal family’. The royal family haven’t come out and said they feel ‘attacked’ or were upset because of Harry and Meghan doing the interview, but they were saddened to ‘learn the extent of how challenging the last few years have been’. This just shows not only the public’s overblown reaction to the interview but also the media’s.
However, this is not the first time Meghan (specifically) has been scrutinized and vilified by the media. Tabloid headlines have been attacking her for years with almost 0 long term consequences. Especially in comparison to headlines about Meghan’s sister-in-law, Kate (Duchess of Cambridge). . While Kate ‘tenderly cradles her baby bump’, Meghan ‘can’t keep her hands off her bump’ due to ‘pride, vanity, acting – or a new age bonding technique’. While William and Kate ‘secretly set up companies to protect their brand’, Harry and Meghan have a ‘right royal cash in’ by ‘trademarking over 100 items from hoodies to socks’. While Kate ‘went from drab to fab’ and ‘looks sizzling’, apparently ‘Brits prefer true royalty to fashion royalty’ (about Meghan). The double standard here is evident and troubling.
But no. We’re not done yet because an observation I have noticed with the media reporting on the royal family has exposed the shift in the last 3 years from news reporting to news creating. Tabloids repeated use the phrase ‘a royal source’, ‘a palace source’ or a ‘royal expert’ to report on Harry, Meghan and the RF despite none of the parties mentioned saying anything about the ‘issue’. While this very may be to protect the identity of the source, when an article has a claim of a rift in the family or a very serious issue concerning a highly publicized family, isn’t it not wiser to tell the reader who has said this claim. Not according to the news sites. The most recent example of this technique used by British media is in the situation over the naming of Lilibet Diana. Tabloids (and the BBC) have reported that Harry and Meghan did not ask the Queen to use the name ‘Lilibet’ (a childhood nickname for the Queen). Despite the obvious fact that you cannot restrict another human being from using an appropriate name for their child, all of the sites that have reported this (including the BBC) have used ‘sources’ to back their claim    . This is a perfect example of the extent these media outlets would go to vilify these people for the reader’s entertainment and completely sway public opinion.
You may ask, but why? Short answer: systematic racism deep rooted in the UK. Long answer: to the British public and the media alike, Meghan is symbolic of ‘the other’. She is American, a woman of colour, a divorcée, and a former actress (only Wallis Simpson was a divorcée and American before Meghan, and we all know how that turned out) so immediately she’s not seen as the right fit for the Royal Family. She’s seen as everything against what the Royal family stands for (or looks like) and is out there to steal Harry and destroy the Royal Family. So as soon as she began not being accepted it seemed like nothing, she did could ever change their minds and the media circus decided to villainise her instead.
But some may ask, but the Royal Family are also human beings with their own lives? Why are people so defensive of them? I’ll tell you why. The Royal Family are unintentional symbols of English nationalism. They represent an age-old institution that have been the centre of English culture for centuries. It’s why the Queen gets more praise and attention than Boris Johnson and why the Cambridges (William, Kate, George, Charlotte and Louis) are symbolic of ‘the perfect English family’. So, when someone who looks different, sounds different and let’s face it, is different to the Royal Family ethnically shows up and grabs the world’s attention, it was inevitable a storm of hate was going to arise. But no-one guessed it would only take 3 years for everything to boil over.
In the future, nobody knows what will happen to Harry and Meghan. Will they continue to tell their story despite the rise in hate against them? Will the Royal Family finally fully attempt to make amends and fix the problems within their own institution? Will Harry and Meghan stay in America for good? No-one can 100% know the answer to these questions but one thing is definite. The media won’t stop attacking them until something is done about the content news outlets can release in general.
So as people are continuing to call for Harry and Meghan to be completely cut off from the Royal Family itself, you probably know why now.
Meghan and Harry’s interview: Seven bombshell claims The Spectator