Grace Manning ’21
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey has gone viral over the past week. Social media is flooded with tweets and posts calling for the end of the monarchy and wondering aloud whether this interview will mean the death of a carefully fabricated and maintained identity and reputation for the royal family. However, I am talking about largely American voices. People in Britain bring another view to the table. The interview aired first in the U.S., then in the U.K. and I waited in anticipation to hear the opinions of my family and friends who live in London. The most common question I heard was “this is news?” While not excusing their behaviour, the monarchy in England, although earnestly defended as a necessary and a key part of tradition and history, is also known to have its deeply-rooted issues. The English, don’t forget, had Diana, Princess of Wales as their national sweetheart and they were devastated when she died. They were equally infuriated that the royal family had very little to say when she did. But British sympathies don’t lie as completely with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as one might expect.
The overwhelming sentiments in the U.S. are outrage and empathy for Meghan Markle. But some British argue that she knew what she was getting into by marrying into the royal family. There seems to be the acknowledgement that while it is known that the royal family is tight knit, closed off to outsiders and often cold and callous, it is also understood that anyone joining the family is acutely aware of their problematic nature. The British tabloids began ripping the interview apart, seconds after its release in the U.K. “Megxit,” a play on Brexit, was a term coined by the tabloids to mock the couple. It is difficult for some in the U.K. to sympathize with Meghan and Harry when they feel the interview was in the couple’s own self-interest and used as a tactical move in getting the public on their side. Meghan Markle is also a wealthy celebrity who was born, worked, and lived in the U.S., so her self-motivated exile loses some of its impact for the British.
The aftermath of the interview in both the U.S. and the U.K., therefore, has been interesting in revealing the different views of the monarchy. The call for the “end” of the established ruling group in England is simply laughable to many British people. The monarchy is established and sometimes, if not always, beloved by its people as a symbol of what it means to be uniquely British. The solidarity with Meghan Markle is justified, her experience living with the royal family likely was difficult as an American, and, as we saw with Princess Diana, no one is arguing that the royal family can’t be cruelly exclusive. But the arrival of an American into the royal family, despite social media’s valiant attempts, will not be the downfall of this family, much to American dismay.