With over 2 billion people worldwide tuning in to watch the wedding of Meghan and Harry in May and the announcement of Meghan’s pregnancy sparking excitement around the world, Meghan Markle is truly becoming an icon of our time. Yet, many are questioning some aspects of the Duchess.
Meghan is a self-professed feminist, speaking at the UN in 2015 she said: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.” Her speech called for women’s voices to be heard at the highest levels of decision making, and equality between men and women around the world.
Recently, whilst touring Australia and New Zealand Meghan made a speech celebrating the 125thanniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. She congratulated the country for being the first country to champion women’s right to vote, and pointed out that “feminism is about fairness.”
Yet, can she profess to be a feminist when she gave up so much for a man?
Meghan quickly gave up her acting career after becoming engaged to Harry, she said in an interview she did not see it as giving something up but rather “I just see it as a change…a new chapter”. Further, following her engagement she closed all of her social media accounts since the senior members of the monarchy have social media accounts run by the media teams of their households. Before she deleted her accounts she had 1.9 million Instagram followers, 350,000 Twitter followers and 800,000 Facebook likes – this kind of reach is something many activists could only dream of. Can you be a feminist when your life and choices are dictated by who the man in your life is, or is this a demonstration of the feminist ideal that a woman should be allowed to make her own choice even if other women don’t agree with it?
In November 2016 Meghan was spotted wearing a grocery bag which sported the slogan “Alleviating Poverty Worldwide”. She was a Global Ambassador for World Vision from 2016 to 2017 and took trips to raise awareness for humanitarian issues, including one to Rwanda in 2016. She has also worked as an ambassador for the UN and as a One Young World counsellor, as well as working with organisations such as the Myna Mahila foundation. While more recently Meghan has been working to support victims of Grenfell tower.
Yet Meghan often wears wildly expensive clothing items and accessories. One of her most recent looks whilst in New Zealand featured a $1020 Leap of Faith blazer dress and $625 Manolo Blahnik pumps, not to mention a Simon James necklace valued at over $17,000. What kind of message does this send to ordinary people fighting to get through each day?
Is it acceptable to fight against poverty whilst wearing outfits that are worth so much, or does it matter more that she is using her voice and power to affect change, whilst looking appropriate for her role as a Duchess?
Questions also have to come when we delve into the confusing relationship Meghan has with her father Thomas.
During her younger years Meghan appears to have been close to her father, yet according to a home video belonging to her former friend Ninaki Priddy an 18-year-old Meghan claims she and her father “aren’t on the best terms.”
However, by 2016 things were clearly fine between them, on Father’s Day Meghan took to Instagram to write: “Thanks for my work ethic, my love of Busby Berkely films & club sandwiches, for teaching me the importance of handwritten thank you notes, and for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you.” Further, a 2016 source told People that Meghan “has paid many of her father’s bills over the years.”
Even leading up to her wedding earlier this year, Meghan and Thomas’ relationship seemed to be okay, with Meghan arranging for him to have fittings at Beverly Hills ateliers and to have his wedding shoes made by the royal cobblers.
However, following his post-wedding interview with Good Morning Britain where he spoke of Harry’s political views and Meghan’s desire to have a child, amongst other things, he has reportedly been frozen out of Meghan’s life. Her numbers have been changed and Thomas apparently cannot contact his daughter. Since being cut out of her life Thomas has said: “perhaps it would be easier if I were dead.”
Should Meghan’s family life be written off as a private matter, the sort of issue that many families around the world have a similar experience with? Or does it say something of a woman who can cut off her father from her life with no questions?
Meghan clearly has had a great impact before and since her induction into the royal family. She has raised awareness for many humanitarian and social issues and she brings a new youthful diversity to the royal family. Yet there are issues.
Can we accept the contradictions of Meghan? Is it a good thing to see someone who’s not perfect, or should we expect more of those in our royal family?