Co-written and edited by Etta Ibok
In any case, Her Majesty the Queen appears to be quite happy with Duchess Meghan given the charities that she has bestowed on her, including appointing her as Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. According to historian, David Starky, the only thing the Queen really cares about is the Commonwealth and the fact that, in less than a year as a member of the Royal family, the Queen, in effect, made Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan her ambassadors to the Commonwealth is a sign of the Monarch’s fondness for her granddaughter-in-law. [Elle]
On her part, Duchess Meghan has run her charities brilliantly and, in just over one year as a Duchess, including nine months of pregnancy and five months of maternity leave, Duchess Meghan has produced substantive and tangible results for her charities that no other royal wife can match. Two examples will suffice.
- The Hubb Kitchen: Under Duchess Meghan’s guidance, the Women of Hubb Community Kitchen published a cookbook (Together: Our Community Cookbook), which sold 130,000 copies globally. Proceeds from the sale were used to refurbish the center, to expand services to seven days a week and widen the center’s reach to others in the community. [The Duchess of Sussex]
- Smart Works: Recently, the Duchess of Sussex, in collaboration with leading fashion designers John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw and Misha Nonoo, launched the Smart Set Capsule Collection for Smart Works, a charity that
“helps unemployed women regain the confidence they need to succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives”.Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
- Outland Denim: Outland denim is not one of Duchess Meghan charities. Duchess Meghan is known to promote sustainability in her fashion choices. Not for the first time, it was recently reported that Outland Denim, a Queensland-based and ethically minded denim business whose “Harriet” jeans the Duchess wore while she and Prince Harry toured Australia in 2018, saw a 948% percent increase in traffic. With increased sales, driven by the Duchess Meghan’s stamp of approval (the “Meghan Effect”) Outland was able to open a new finishing facility in Cambodia, which provides jobs for 46 new seamstresses — women rescued from human trafficking. [Harper’s Bazaar]
According to a post on September 21, 2019 on the Sussexes’ official Instagram, within eight days of its launch, Smart Works received enough units from the capsule collection to support its members for a full year.
These three examples, like others not discussed here, represent Duchess Meghan’s effectiveness in using her privileged platform to produce tangible, measurable, and positive results that are not subject to speculation, dispute or differences of opinion. And, outside of Great Britain, there are people who recognize Duchess Meghan’s “soft” power as an influencer and a force for change or, in the eyes of the women she met in South Africa, a “beacon of hope” for women’s empowerment. [People]
Why was she holding her pregnant bump, as if she is the only woman who has ever been pregnant?
To criticize Duchess Meghan for holding her baby bump, something most, if not all, pregnant women do at one time or the other, is just plain silly and shows just how baseless the vitriol directed at her really is.
If the Royal family had known the kind of family she had (Samantha and Thomas Markle, Sr. and Jr.) the Queen would not have given Prince Harry permission to marry Meghan Markle.
Another puerile argument that ignores reality and cold hard facts. The House of Windsor or Mountbatten-Windsor may be royal, but it is not without its own family scandals, ones that are more serious than snippings from the sidelines by two disgruntled siblings and a befuddled father struggling to accept personal responsibility for actions that led to a heart attack that, in turn, sidelined him as a mere footnote in a history-making royal wedding in which he was billed to take center stage by walking his daughter down the aisle in the traditional giving-away of the bride. The Markles pale alongside the Mountbatten-Windsors’ transgressions that include, as samplers: searing love children, infidelity (which seems to be rampant among the male members of the clan, including the most recent claim that the second-in-line stepped out on his wife and children), divorces, divorces and more divorces, selling access to a Prince, associating with a convicted and known pedophile, to mention just a few.
Duchess Meghan is often disparaged for being a divorcee. Yet, in recent times, the House of Windsor/Mountbatten-Windsor has experienced at least four high-profile divorces, including three of the Queen’s four children, two of whom went on to remarry. The royal family endured through and survived the very public and very embarrassing mess of a separation and subsequent divorce of Prince Charles, the current heir to the throne, from Princess Diana. Prince Charles subsequently married the woman who everybody blamed for breaking up his first marriage. The public seems to have forgiven and have accepted her as the first-in-line as Queen consort in-waiting. Last year, at the celebration of Princes Charles’ 70th birthday, Her Majesty, in her role as a mother, acknowledged and commended the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, for making her son very happy. [For more on royal family and divorce, see History.com] If the Royal family survived its own internal upheavals and scandals, it will survive Prince Harry’s marriage to Duchess Meghan.
In Meghan Markle, the House of Mountbatten-Windsor has an opportunity to remake its image – from that of a dusty old institution, an anachronism from the past that is impervious to change and that U.K. citizens hold onto for no tangible reasons, to that of an institution whose privileged members become the vanguard of changes that are inevitably sweeping through the world as national boundaries dissolve in the global search for global solutions to the world’s most enduring and daunting problems — climate change, poverty, and women’s empowerment, to mention just a few.
Duchess Meghan brings dynamism, creativity and a strong work ethic to the Royal family. As the events unfolding in South Africa during the Sussex’s ongoing visit to that country show, the Royal family would do well to embrace and harness Duchess Meghan’s exceptionalism, as well as her and Prince Harry’s star power, towards building a new and modern dynasty that caters, and is responsive, to all its people – both those under its direct rule, as well as the other 52 countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations.
Especially in the less developed member countries of this loose and largely voluntary association of nations, there is a thirst for change, of leadership that requires a redefinition of the role of the monarchy to that of an agent of change. As expressed by one South African female entrepreneur who met with Duchess Meghan in one of several discussion groups that she held during her current tour of South Africa, people are looking for solutions, not just “to have tea with the royals for the sake of having tea with royals”.
I don’t want to have tea with the royals for the sake of having tea with the royals. As a female founder and entrepreneur, I want to know, ‘How does a woman like her open doors?’Matsi Modise, founder of skills training company Simodisa
Female entrepreneurs in Africa, for example, want to know how to get the doors open to them. Duchess Meghan’s qualification and suitability in a leadership role as a representative of the British Crown is assessed in practical and functional terms. Because of her modest background and because she worked hard to build a successful career, Duchess Meghan is seen as someone who “can relate to the struggles of the normal person in the street who’s trying to make something of herself.” She is “a beacon of hope”, [People], and a change agent that the British monarchy can utilize to increase its relevance globally.
It is worth noting that, while Princess Diana is remembered today with great fondness, reverence and nostalgia, this was not always the case when she was alive. Just as they are now doing to her posthumous daughter-in-law, the British media hounded and fed off Princess Diana’s every real and imagined missteps. Princess Diana paid the ultimate price with her life, for the media’s inhumane and unwarranted pursuit of her. Those who support Duchess Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, are acutely aware of this tragic history.
And, for all people of color who have drank of the British media Cool aid and believe that Duchess Meghan should conform, here’s a final thought: If African Americans, after 400 years of slavery, had left things just the way they were because “[i]t was an old establishment and that was how things were done”; if Rosa Parks had continued to conform and not refused to give up her seat to a white person; if Nelson Mandela and other Pan Africanists had not stood up and fought back against an old established system, made tough personal sacrifices and endured long incarcerations, the old, established systems would not have changed. Those in power do not voluntarily surrender the privilege that that power confers without a fight.
And that is why Duchess Meghan cannot, should not, and must not conform to some traditional, stereotypical and malleable standard of behavior to assuage her critics. Duchess Meghan may not be able to effect changes to the institutional and structural barriers that perpetuate existing national and global inequalities and oppression. But she has the experience, the passion and the platform to make a difference. As a wife, a mother, a woman and a woman of color, Duchess Meghan is an embodiment of vast possibilities, a powerful symbol that young girls can easily recognize, identify with and seek to emulate. By continuing to use her soft power and her global platform to champion and rally support for causes close to her heart, Duchess Meghan can help open doors of opportunity for those who lack the information, opportunities, and connections that in many instances make the difference between success and failure.