This International Women's Day, Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot has her say...
Meghan Markle is the most talked-about woman in the world right now, something that has only increased since she and Prince Harry stepped down as royal family members and relocated to California.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are expecting their second child, took part in an in-depth interview with Oprah on Sunday evening to set the record straight about their departure from royal life.
Watching the interview live, I was shocked.
To clarify, my shock was not at Meghan Markle’s actions, but at the fact that she was having to go to such great lengths to clear her name when she has done absolutely nothing wrong.
Meghan Markle and her torturous few years as a royal is a shocking example of how the world treats powerful women.
They are considered a threat and torn down, with Meghan bullied out of the country and left feeling ‘suicidal’, only to be blamed for masterminding the whole thing herself.
As she said, ‘[The firm] were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me.’
Scrolling through my social media feeds, I was shocked by how much hate was being posted – nearly all of it aimed at Meghan.
‘Traitor’, ‘manipulator’, ‘Duchess Difficult’ and ‘Me-Gain’ were just some of the terms used to describe the former Suits actress. And I’m not having it.
Meghan Markle was failed. She was left unprotected to bullies and unable to defend herself. Of course she wants to tell her truth now – and she should.
‘I’ve advocated for so long for women to use their voice, and then, I was silent,’ she explained but when later asked by Oprah if she was silent or silenced, she replied ‘the latter’.
No one can deny that Meghan Markle threw herself into royal life and sacrificed a hell of a lot to marry the man she loved.
She gave up her job, her nationality, her home and her freedom, closing her beloved blog The Tig and moving away from her friends and family.
In short – she sacrificed everything to become the Duchess of Sussex and all she got in return was a tonne of abuse.
From the moment Meghan was rumoured to be dating Prince Harry, she was hounded by the press and public alike, with Prince Harry forced to release an unprecedented statement asking for her privacy.
Since becoming a royal family member it only got worse. The run-up to the couple’s wedding was overshadowed by Thomas Markle drama and cruel reports of Meghan making Kate Middleton cry, pitting the royal sisters-in-law against each other. Her pregnancy was consumed with online abuse in the form of body shaming, and after welcoming baby Archie to the world, the mum shaming started. Now, just days after Meghan’s second pregnancy announcement, bullying slander against the Duchess has emerged to drown it out.
Let’s be honest – for the past few years, it has been impossible for Meghan to put a foot right.
If she smiles she is called smug, if she keeps straight faced she is accused of being cold, if she stays silent she is uncaring and if she speaks out she is emotional.
Meghan has had an awful deal – put simply, she cannot win. So, is it surprising that she and Harry decided to put their marriage and their mental wellbeing ahead of royal life?
We too often forget that royals are real people. And like real people, they have very real feelings and needs. If any of us were put in the same situation, I’m not sure we would cope as well.
Instead of picking Meghan Markle apart, we should be apologising to her for being failed and using her mistreatment as a catalyst for change.
It is 2021 and it is unacceptable for a woman to be so aggressively attacked for simply being a powerful and popular figure who is able to make change.
I’m sorry that you were treated so unfairly Meghan Markle. I hope we learn from you.