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Identity

Meghan Markle's Status As a Woman of Color Leaves No Room for Error

The mainstream media has an unhealthy obsession with nitpicking her every move.

by Bianca Betancourt
Dec 12 2018, 9:35pm

Photo by Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images

The press is no stranger to nitpicking the royal family’s every move and its latest curiosity is the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Lately, all eyes have been on who’s in and who’s out of Markle’s official camp. Close scrutiny has been focusing on the fact she’s on the hunt for her third assistant in seven months since joining the royal family this past summer. Allegedly, according to multiple British outlets, palace insiders have dubbed Markle “Duchess Difficult”—supposedly because of her countless demands, constant emailing, and pushing back against royal protocol.

Markle, whose courtship with Prince Harry turned into a whirlwind engagement straight out of a fairytale and resulted in the third-most-viewed royal wedding of all time, has been analyzed from the moment they went public with their relationship. The press has extensively reported on Markle being a Hollywood actress, divorcee, her fashion choices, and even how she holds her pregnant belly.

The Markle obsession hasn’t only come from the British press—few can forget the back and forth between the Royals and Markle’s loose-lipped family in the months leading up to her wedding. While Markle was acclimating to the monarchy and the worldwide spotlight, her father and half-sister spoke to the press on more than one occasion about how Markle had “changed" and cut them off—in addition to staging paparazzi photos.

If one can read between the lines of the press’ analyzation of Markle, it all seems less about a Duchess gone power hungry and more about a new Royal, determined to stand her ground in a cultural climate eager to tear her down.

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While Markle has assumed new power in being a Duchess, she still has to find her footing in a monarchy where she doesn’t have control of her public persona. Before her relationship with Prince Harry, the 37-year-old was a single, famous Hollywood actress, who shifted into a world where her every move has to be approved by the Queen. She now exists within a hierarchical monarchy where simply stating what she wants, can be globally misconstrued as having an attitude and demanding candor—something many Black women, regardless of higher status, are familiar with.

"Black women are not supposed to push back and when they do, they're deemed to be domineering. Aggressive. Threatening. Loud,” Trina Jones, a law professor at Duke University, told the BBC in regards to Black women's depictions in media like Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, and Maxine Waters. Many believe Markle, who identifies as biracial, is dealing with the same scrutiny as she navigates her new role and attempts to put forth an agenda for her civic work and legacy.

Markle’s status—not just as a new royal—but also as a woman of color, means there’s little room for mistakes, especially when the entire world is watching. Her supposed “demands” might simply be synonymous with the world’s eagerness to see her misstep, and her refusing to let that happen.