In My Humble Opinion...

Why I'm Rooting for Meghan Markle (And Hope She Doesn't End Up In the Sunken Place)


I’ve never been a fan of the Royal Family. It’s not like I harbor some big grudge against them. It’s more that I simply don’t see their relevance to, well, anything in a modern world.

I know that lots of people feel otherwise, though. And whether or not I get it, I recognize that the Royal Family is incredibly influential, not just in the U.K., but around the world.

And that’s why I am grateful to Meghan Markle for her willingness to marry Prince Harry. By doing so, she has advanced the cause of women everywhere.

From time immemorial, women have been told that to be “worthy,” we have to be subservient and “pure.” And we have also been told that two important markers of purity are pale skin and virginity. By marrying into the family that is the standard bearer for all things white and uptight, Meghan has dealt those damaging messages a colossal blow.

Now, the list of adjectives that describe what it means to be “royal” has been broadened to include biracial, divorced, and feminist. As a result, what is and is not acceptable for women everywhere—from balconies of Buckingham Palace to the slums of Mumbai—has been modernized.

In yet another example of others taking credit for a woman’s accomplishments, some attribute this forward progress to the Royal Family for “letting” Meghan in, or to Prince Harry for “daring” to love her. This ignores the reality of the situation.

This wasn’t some sort of Cinderella story. Prince Harry didn’t rescue Meghan from a life of drudgery. She was living the dream. A successful actress on a popular television series with her own lifestyle blog, she was financially successful with a huge group of friends. Her position of prominence allowed her to take causes that she had always cared about—like gender, racial, and societal equality—and advocate for them on a global stage. She was a difference maker in her own right, jet-setting around the world for both work and fun.

In order to marry Prince Harry and advance our cause in the process, she had to give almost all of that up. That’s quite the ironic sacrifice.

Talk about taking one for the team.

The Royal Family has far more to gain from her than she does from them. She can help the Royal Family modernize their brand—a brand is in desperate need of updating.

What remains to be seen, though, is whether she will pull the Royal Family up to the light, or if they will pull her down to the Sunken Place. Up until very recently, I was hopeful that Meghan would prevail. After all, Meghan and Harry even made the decidedly feminist move of asking guests to send donations in lieu of wedding gifts to the Myna Mahila Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving access to feminine hygiene products to women in the slums of Mumbai.

But now I have my concerns.

Since the wedding, I’ve seen news stories about how the Queen is sending Meghan to six months of Duchess training—training that will focus on schooling Meghan in the rules of social protocol. I can’t imagine anything less worthy of Meghan’s Northwestern University-educated brain and highly evolved social conscience.

I’ve also read stories about the long list of rules Meghan now has to live by—rules that provide a window into the bizarrely micromanaged and superficial world she now inhabits. From now on, Meghan can’t cross her legs in public. Or have social media accounts or a blog. She isn’t allowed to take selfies or give autographs. Oh, and no wedge heels. Or skirts or dresses with hemlines that are more than a few inches above the knee. And no wearing black unless she’s in mourning. And no colored nail polish.

From now on, she can’t appear in public with bare legs, which means she’ll have to wear hosiery—something that women liberated themselves from years ago. And when walking into a room, she must curtsey to the Queen. Plus, she has to enter in a certain order—William comes before Kate, and Kate comes before Harry, and Harry comes before Meghan.

Let that sink in a minute. A woman who has advocated for equality since she was in elementary school is now being told how to dress and to accept that her proper place is behind her husband.

I can’t help but think how humanity would be better served if Meghan were training the Royal Family how to be more like her rather than the other way around. But this is what Meghan Markle’s life has now become. She has given up everything and they have given up nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m rooting for Prince Harry and Meghan as a couple. I love how in love they are. They seem so warm, genuine, and down to earth. Those are qualities that I have never before associated with any member of the Royal Family. I hope Meghan and Harry can stay true to who they are and protect what they have—but I recognize how hard that will be, given what they are up against.

And while I am rooting for them as a couple, I am rooting for Meghan as an individual even more. If being Royal requires her to be banished to the Sunken Place, I hope she gets out before it’s too late. Because while we've already gained a lot from Meghan Markle, I suspect she has a lot more to give.