When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of Wales got engaged on 27 November 2017 lots of people had high hopes for the couple and wanted her to do well in her new role. They would “modernize” the monarchy, she would be a fresh wind in the rather stiff British royal family. Things have gone down since. Bad media, especially online, too much criticism (certainly not always deserved), that surely has influenced the way people think about the couple, negative behaviour of some so-called fans and haters on social media, too many “royal sources” and “friends” blabbing to the media. Some reasons for all the negativity given: racism, but surely I think also the fact that she was an American divorcee and had been an actress must have played a huge role. Meghan was at least not the regular bride to enter a royal family.
And now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are known since their wedding, have announced that they don’t want to be senior royals anymore and be financially independent. They’ve just shaken up not only the UK, but also the whole world, as many expected that they would come back after their short break at the end of 2019. Probably they should have taken some more time off, maybe a year or even more, just to allow them to settle into their personal live, without searching the publicity themselves. Maybe, as some rumours go, she wasn’t as well accepted by the family as it looked like either. Whatever their reasons were, lots of people wish them well and hope they and the royal family will end up with a workable solution. It will be interesting to see what the couple and the royal family have decided on their future role and all aspects that play a role in such cases.
Some time ago I held an inquiry on Twitter and Facebook, just after that ITV-documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey” was broadcasted. What do people like and not like about Meghan was the question? Although I’ve always tried to be objective, and certainly don’t believe a lot of stories (that protocol breaking stuff for example), it is terribly hard not to be influenced by the negativity online. People either tend to be extremely negative, or extremely positive. I don’t like it either way to be honest. Often it is also really difficult to see which articles are true and which are just gossip.
Most comments people who answered my inquiry – lots of them longtime royalty-watchers – came up mainly with things people were being concerned about. They are also not directed at Meghan only, but also at Harry who sometimes should have known better, knowing how it works being a member of the royal family. Also the British royal family is surprisingly not as used to having a member of the family coming from a foreign country as some other European royal families. Some of the points might also play a role in the decision of Meghan and Harry to quit as senior royals, but it is hard to say.
- Didn’t it all go a bit too quick? They did only know each other for one and a half year after all. Given her age and wish to have children, it wasn’t too strange that they didn’t wait as long as some others.
- As an actress she had some kind of idea what it is to live in the limelight. But was Meghan prepared enough for royal life? Which leads to the question: did she receive enough guidance, did she knew what kind of life was waiting for her? Not only the royal family, but in the first place also Harry himself would have had to inform her about the consequences.
- Although Meghan had moved to another country before, moving from Northern America to the UK, a country she knew, was a huge step. Did she underestimate the impact on her? She didn’t have to learn a new language, but each country, its people, its culture are different. Should she have taken more time to get to know the UK?
- She had to tackle a lot in a short time: being a royal, motherhood, public life. Probably she should have taken more time to settle, to get used to her new life, family, learn what a monarchy is, learn about being a royal and understand it before starting to undertake lots of engagements.
- Both Meghan and Harry should remember they have a supporting role in the royal family, and that they are/were representing the monarchy, Great Britain, rather than only themselves. Before trying to change things, one should focus first on how one fits into the program and find a way it works for both parties.
- They’re too focused on promoting themselves: the Sussexes. However unless something terrible happens, Harry is never destined to become the future King. It was however expected that he would support his father Prince Charles as soon as he was a king, and certainly afterwards his brother William. As the Queen is 93, Charles already 71, you can’t expect them to be around for ever. But as long as his children aren’t adults yet, William can use all support he can get, as most senior royals are already old now.
- Meghan and Harry should have shown more respect for royal (and British) traditions, the importance of the monarchy, history, the institution. For genealogists it was a disappointment that their son Archie officially is not going to be called by the title he is entitled to, at least not in the near future.
- The couple and their PR-Team haven’t handled the negative coverage very well, and have rather made the situation worse. “Too much drama!” or “Stop whining!” were words I heard more than once. Suing newspapers, complaining about royal life in a TV-documentary – that was not well received -, and using the media to complain is not the right way to deal with criticism. Nor is it right to release information without consultation. Some people have pointed out by the way that having three separate courts: Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace already hasn’t worked well for years, as there is sometimes lots of competition between the courts.
- Hugging people in public, especially when you do not or hardly know them, is very un-British and certainly also unroyal, and was both liked and unliked by people answering my inquiry. People in the UK are used to curtsy for royals, which for a new royal certainly might feel uncomfortable. Shaking hands would be a nice solution in the middle.
- A royal is not a celebrity, even when you sometimes wonder.
Meghan and Harry became surprisingly quick “unpopular”. As someone said: disappointment is leading to disinterest. At least that is the case for some people. It is not that people expected Meghan to grasp everything within such a short time. Although there were some mis-steps in the eyes of several people, there was nothing that couldn’t be improved, as obviously Meghan still had a lot to learn. Being a royal, especially a British one, is a trade in its own right. Nothing can be compared with it.
However there are also a lot of things that people like about Meghan, something you’d almost forget when reading all the negative articles and read far too little about. She has a lot of potential, I was told several times. What positive things did people have to say about Meghan? One really shouldn’t forget these!
- Meghan clearly loves Harry, and she has helped him to grow and mature as a person.
- She is modern, beautiful, intelligent, smart, ambitious, sympathic, dynamic, and a strong woman, self-confident, caring, motivated. But she also dares to show herself as a vulnerable, insecure woman.
- A symbol of modern day realities of multi-racial families. And it is good to know that she doesn’t have a perfect family and is not a perfect person herself. She is a human being like everyone else on this earth. She’s doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not.
- She could have opted for an easier life, but hasn’t taken the easier path and decided to go for it.
- Meghan has a vision for making the world a better place.
- Already before meeting Harry Meghan was involved in humanitarian work, quite impressive too. She is devoted, passionate about the causes she advocates. She already knew what causes she wanted to focus on as a royal, she has goals. And she is not shy about feminism.
- She likes to help solving problems as we have seen with The Hubb Community Kitchen cookbook and the Smart Works Capsule Collection. Her approach to causes is quite effective. The way she approaches and interacts with people reminds of Princess Diana.
- From the beginning Meghan has started to try to get involved and help. There are many projects going on, with a huge diversity. Meghan is creative, presents her ideas well, is good at promoting and fundraising for them. She thinks out of the box.
- The Duchess is a good role model for women of color and young women in general, and has a positive influence on many of them all around the world.
- Meghan is engaging with the public and makes people feel included. She doesn’t only make public visits, but also private ones.
- She has a good working ethic and really rolls her sleeves up.
- She is a great public speaker, very articulate.
- It is good that Meghan and Harry openly talk about their feelings, as it makes them more human.
- She is an inspiration, has a positive impact.
- Meghan has her own style. Some people had hoped she would wear more British fashion labels and think she spent too much money and her clothes could use more colour, and her jewels bigger (which is all of course a matter of taste). It is great that she recycles and wears designers with a message, and wears sustainable clothes too.
Harry’s spouse, as someone said, would have strengthened the united brand of the Cambridges and Sussexes for the associates employed to keep the various projects organized, easily managed and less costly for management expenses. With two separate organizations, there is twice as much overhead that could be going to something more worthwhile financially (remember this was all said before the announcement that they were quiting as senior royals). Someone also said she could be a huge benefit for the royal family in the long term. It would have been very interesting to see long term what Meghan would have achieved as a senior fulltime working royal. Unfortunately it seems we are not going to experience that. Hopefully they don’t disappear from the radar totally.