Meghan Markle Isn’t the Problem
Almost a year ago veteran journalist and author of Finding Freedom, Omid Scobie, was alone with Meghan Markle in a room at Buckingham Palace.
The Duchess of Sussex had just completed her last solo engagement as a working member of the royal family, on Prince Harry's so-called "farewell tour" of the United Kingdom. It was a meeting with scholars from across the Commonwealth that was part of her work as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Patronage taken from the Duchess and returned to Queen Elizabeth II last month as part of Her Majesty's final decision on Harry and Meghan's status as working kings.
After everyone left the room that day in March, Meghan said to Scobie, "It didn't have to be like this."
According to Scobie, Meghan and Harry never wanted this - in order to stop being working members of the royal family. "I hope people realize this is a couple that tried everything to make it work before stepping down," Scobie says in a new interview with Glamor. "Instead of following the narrative that they just stopped because they couldn't have it that way."
The problem is bigger than Meghan and Harry, and it didn't start with them either. It is the misogynist way the press - especially the British press - treats the firm's women who marry into the royal family. And the institution that doesn't protect them.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sit down with Oprah Winfrey in a comprehensive interview that will air on Sunday March 7th.
Harpo Productions, Joe Pugliese
It goes back to the 1930s when Wallis Simpson was derisively described as a woman of "boundless ambition" because King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to follow his heart. Behavior deteriorated in the 80s and 90s when Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson divorced their respective princes. Even Kate Middleton faced those horrific headlines from Waity Katie in the 2000s. If you're new to the family - especially as a woman - you'll be put through its paces.
"To see someone so broken, so upset and vulnerable right now ..." Scobie recalls his emotional meeting with Meghan last March. “She stood in the middle of the palace and knew that as a working member of the royal family she would never be there again. That is when you realize that it wasn't just a difficult couple that failed to get it to work. It was an entire institution that failed to nurture and protect a newcomer. "
He continues, "It's a problem that we keep seeing: women who marry into the royal family and they leave beaten and hurt. I think that when it comes to treating women in the royal family or newcomers, the real ones Problems lie. "
That issue is sure to be addressed in Oprah Winfrey's prime-time CBS interview with the Sussexes on Sunday March 7th, which aired an explosive trailer earlier this week. "I just want to make it clear to everyone that there is no topic that is forbidden," says Winfrey in the clip.
But Scobie predicts that the interview is less about beating up the royal family and more about the couple finally getting a chance to tell their own story after Meghan's privacy case against the mail was cleared on Sunday (in A $ 625,000 win for the.) Duchess). Scobie, who has been reporting on the work of the Sussexes for years, says a seated interview was something the couple had wanted to do for a long time, even when they were still working members of the royal family.
He admits the timing of the interview is "massively unfortunate" as Harry's grandfather Prince Philip is currently in the hospital. Even so, the decision to have this interview was made before the king went into foster care.
"Despite the seemingly hysterical fear emanating from the palace that members of the royal family will be exposed or thrown under the bus, I think this will actually have a lot to do with the story of Harry and Meghan," says Scobie. "I think it will be about their own experiences as a married couple and working members of the royal family and what they expected within the institution of the monarchy."
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit Johannesburg - day two
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a reception in Johannesburg on October 2, 2019.
The "institution" Scobie is referring to is not necessarily the individual members of the royal family, but rather "the machine that runs alongside them". It is reminiscent of the stories of "men in gray suits" that Diana spoke about so long ago. "As hard as Harry and Meghan tried to get it working in this room, they found they couldn't find that happiness or the ability to thrive in this setting," Scobie says.
The two now seem to be thriving: they started a new life in California, founded their own nonprofit Archewell, and signed major contracts with Netflix and Spotify. And of course they are expecting their second baby this year.
"This really is the beginning of Harry and Meghan's next chapter," says Scobie. “Not being able to share her side of the story in her own words has held her back somehow. This enables them to break away from the pains and difficulties of the past. I would imagine the experience of sitting down with Oprah would have been incredibly cathartic for the couple. Now you can really focus on the things that are important to you. "
In Meghan's own words: "It didn't have to be like that." But how did we get here? On May 19, 2018 - the day Meghan married into the royal family - the event was celebrated worldwide.
When Scobie began writing the best-selling book, Finding Freedom, with co-author Carolyn Durand, which was published in August 2020, he said they wanted to tell the story of “a beautiful love story between two people from very different backgrounds who meet and what We felt that as working members of the royal family this would have been a very exciting legacy. “And when he first met the couple, he said Meghan was thrilled to take on the role of the Duchess of Sussex. Harry, meanwhile, was delighted to finally have a partner by his side.
But things took a turn when Harry and Meghan started talking about their treatment on the British tabloids. It "fell on deaf ears in the palace," says Scobie. The institution's regulated no-comment policy "really hurt Harry and Meghan's experience as members of the royal family together. They felt unprotected - unable to protect themselves or each other, especially in Harry's case after seeing how his mother had been through very similar things. "
After the birth of their son Archie in May 2019, according to Scobie, the Sussexes - Meghan in particular - felt regularly attacked and not defended in the press. At the same time, they believed they had more potential than they were allowed to use.
"They got to the point in January 2020 where they came up with a proposal for this to work that was rejected," Scobie says. "They didn't want to resign. They wanted to stay and let it work. Ultimately, the institution wasn't ready for that."
Flypast for the 100th birthday of the Royal Air Force from Buckingham Palace
A critical element here is the ability to separate the individual members of the royal family from the institution itself; One can respect the people in the royal family, including Prince William and Kate Middleton, while realizing that the institution itself is flawed. "I remember a conversation I had with a senior palace assistant a few years ago," says Scobie. "My question was," Why does everyone, no matter what Meghan does, seem to dislike her? "
The answer, says Scobie, "If she had just sat down and listened instead of trying to be so bloody all the time, we wouldn't be in this situation."
"I think that really sums up the problem here," says Scobie. “She is not submissive; She is not the submissive royal woman we may be used to or better see. She challenged the norms of a female royal role - and I am very much aware of the fact that the queen herself is a feminist and a woman of power in a very powerful role. But I'm talking about the newcomers who marry into the royal family and who, because of their differences, often become the enemy. "
In addition to being American, Meghan had a work ethic a far cry from what Buckingham Palace is used to, says Scobie. “I think it scared some people. Change is frightening, especially within the institution. "
But even in her brief tenure as the working queen, Meghan undoubtedly made a huge impression. For one thing, it attracted a "much more diverse crowd of well-wishers," Scobie says. “For many, it was the first time Meghan was someone at the House of Windsor to connect with and relate to. She changed the connotation of what it meant to be royal or royal - which until then had always been white. It's such a shame it no longer belongs to the royal family because I don't know how we're going to get on from here. I don't know how to modernize it as I missed the golden opportunity to do so. "
In the year between Harry and Meghan's regression and the final decision about their future as working royals, Scobie hoped it could have been a moment of reflection for everyone. But he says, "It seems like we're pretty much in the same place a year later."
And then reports surfaced this week claiming Meghan bullied royal employees in what feels like a pre-emptive strike before the CBS tells it all. The panic feels similar to the fear that preceded Finding Freedom's release in August, Scobie says. "It was ultimately a waste of time and energy on everyone because when the book came out people saw a fair account of the situation. I don't think anyone in that royal family book looked bad."
He expects the same from the interview on Sunday. While the special will be a chance for Harry and Meghan to share their story, he predicts it won't be the smear campaign that so many seem feverishly to expect. "I wish everyone would just take a deep breath and have a little confidence," says Scobie.
Perhaps the problem really isn't that a couple is telling their truth in a session interview with Oprah. Perhaps the problem is the truth itself, both about the institution the couple once worked for and the press treatment that is so vocal about them.
"It could have been so different," says Scobie.
Rachel Burchfield is a freelance writer whose main interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and the British royal family in particular.
Originally published on Glamor
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