When news broke that Prince Harry was dating an American actress named Meghan Markle, the British commentators immediately labeled the relationship as a fling, an itch that had to be scratched, before Harry would move on to marry a ‘proper English girl’. However, Prince Harry chose not to move on, he stayed and chose to defend her and fired back at the media for their unfair treatment of his girlfriend.
And then it happened, the official announcement: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged. When they appeared before the cameras following the official engagement announcement, a reporter asked him when did he know she was the one, his response, “The very first time when we met.” On May 19, 2018, the streets of Windsor overflowed with well wishers and media outlets from all parts of the world, as well as over 2 billion households watching on television, Prince Harry and Rachel Meghan Markle pledged their love to one another.
Prince Harry’s love and commitment to his wife and now mother of his son, has not stopped the naysayers, also known as British Royal Reporters (BRR). They continue to predict and even relish on the imminent demise of the relationship. The BRR deny there is a racial bias in their criticisms but are unable to hide their contempt for celebrities and Hollywood. They condemn the Duchess mannerism as being too Hollywood and her connections to celebrities as unsuitable for the Royal Family. As usual, their selective outrage ignores the strong connection between the royals, Hollywood and celebrities. They complain about the number of celebrities who attended the May 2018 wedding, but made little mention of the ones who attended the October 2018 wedding. Celebrities also attended the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. HM the Queen has entertained a number of celebrities and most recently Prince Charles, William and Harry joined a host of celebrities at ‘Our Planet’ premiere.
The double standard in what passes for Royal reporting as it pertains to Duchess Meghan, is enough to fill several books. What remains persistent is the Royal Family’s silence as lie after lie is leveled against the Duchess. The “never complain, never explain” motto adopted by the Royal Family seems to apply to all events except those relating to the Duchess. Prior to her arrival, the claim of Kate having hair extensions was quickly refuted by Clarence House. When a noted novelist characterized Duchess Kate as “a jointed doll on which certain rags were hung … a shop- window mannequin, with no personality of her own.” The Prime Minister of England and the Daily Mail quickly pushed back on what was labeled as a venomous attack. But when it comes to Duchess Meghan, the silence is so loud.
The Daily Mail called her remarks “venomous”. The Sun described the speech as a “bizarre rant”.The Independent, February 19, 2013
The Sussex Squad, for whom we are so very thankful, is fully committed and remains steadfast in their support for the Duchess. Their pushback at the scurrilous claims against her can be exhausting, especially when it seems the voices with greater sway, can, but never speak out. How could they all remain silent while a pregnant woman was bullied and threatened every day? The tabloids never failed to remind their readers of her age as being hazardous relating to the pregnancy. We took solace when supporters and reporters spoke in her defense on social media outlets and it eased our worry when the Duchess appeared in public, beaming and looking unbothered, Prince Harry smiling, hold her hand and being protective.
While still basking in the glow of a happy unbothered Duchess of Sussex last sighted, something wonderful happened.
Beyoncé and Jay won the BAFTA award for best international group based on their collaborative work as the Carters. They accepted the award via a video message, but it was far from being ordinary. While giving their acceptance speech, the Carters stood in front of a portrait of the Duchess wearing a tiara and pearls, and after the speech they turned and faced the portrait. The regal visage of our “melanated Mona,” Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex, caused a complete meltdown of the Internet. This was the validation we did not know we needed, but welcomed with arms wide open.
This was validation, not only because of who Beyoncé is, but because of all that she has endured, long before the Duchess became a household name. Each time a strong Black woman thrives in a space that is felt to be the exclusive domain of whites, an obstacle course to block her path emerges. Beyoncé traversed the obstacle course, endured the slings and arrows; always focused and unapologetic while around her swirled the toxic rumors of fake pregnancy, public betrayals and a problematic parent. She emerged stronger than before. The much-traveled obstacle path bores the footprint of strong women like Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Nina Simone, and Rosa Parks to name a few. While “never explain, never complain” may be attributed to the Royal family to be used at their convenience; it is these Black Women who have lived the experience.
To those who say, “Duchess Meghan is not Black, she’s biracial” and as she says, “Tell that to my mother.” It is your right to identify however you wish, but it is also in your best interest to realize that for many people, particularly citizens of the United States, the ’one-drop rule’ makes you Black. It is that belief that will drive their assumptions about you and determine their treatment of you. Despite what the British Media would like you to believe, racism is the root cause of their problem with the biracial “Almost Straight Outta Compton” accomplished, confident, young woman that is Duchess Meghan.
Beyoncé and Jay, thrilled us, but it was an appetizer for the feast that would be a face-to-face meeting. When word came that The Lion King would have a London Premier, with Prince Harry attending in support of his conservation causes, we were concerned whether or not Duchess Meghan would also be present. After all, she is on maternity leave and even though Royals are allowed to have pleasure outings while taking a break from official engagements; Master Archie might have other plans for his Mummy.
Then came official word, Duchess Meghan will accompany her husband, the Duke of Sussex. The world tilted a little more on its axis; schedules were quickly rearranged and extra phone batteries purchased to witness the greatest coming together since the flag touched the surface of the moon.
And so on Sunday, July 14, 2019 this happened:
Queen Bey embraced Princess Meghan. As we watched, enthralled, we became Beyoncé, holding Princess Meghan, mother of Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, telling her “We got you, it will be okay, stay strong, we got this.” We were also Princess Meghan, embracing the star we love, the strong sister we admire, our embodiment of strength and resilience, showing us we can endure, we are loved and it will be okay. And the earth righted itself again.
We are all the women, all the people who are daily told we don’t belong, we are not enough, we must change to conform. We are all the women who shed tears because of what we heard and what we saw. Yes, we do belong; yes, we are enough; no, we don’t have to change to conform. Our chief responsibility is to ourselves, to remain true to who we are, to continue down the path to uplift and support and to expect nothing less than what we are.
While the meeting of the Carters and the Sussexes was the high point of the evening, it was no less life-affirming to see Sir Elton John embrace the Duchess and whisper what we imagined were words of support. While her connection to all the actors may not have been the strong “Hollywood celebrities” the tabloids so often use to denigrate the Duchess, she was greeted with the warmth and esteem that Her Royal Highness, Princess Henry of Wales truly deserves.