Prince Harry's stance against racist, sexist abuse of Meghan Markle has endeared him to me very much – Laura Waddell
As Harry indicated in their much-discussed Netflix documentary, in the royal generations above his there has been expectation, or precedent, for royal women to bear mistreatment by the tabloids, and for the men to look the other way – when not tacitly feeding salacious snippets of misdirection to the press themselves. But comparing a selection of tabloid headlines, Meghan gets a much rougher reception, accused of breaking royal protocol for wearing a shoulder-revealing dress where Kate, in a similar situation, was instead praised for her style.
That is the tip of the iceberg; the documentary tells the story of how the sheer volume of racialised hate aimed at Meghan on social media, and whistled to by the British print and talk media, took a serious toll on her health. This woman was abused.
As has been seen by the stomach-churning interjection of Jeremy Clarkson, who has, in the face of a backlash, since scrambled to apologise for his words about parading Meghan naked down the street, hateful fantasies about punishing women in the public eye are voiced far too freely.
Of course, in the age of Instagram, how and why things are packaged the way they are should always be considered. This documentary is a slick PR effort. I have consumed too many hours of political news and reality television, alike in many ways, not to look at the glamorous still photographs and domestic moments captured on film and see two people extremely aware of – and tormented by – their public image. Even despite their stressful circumstances, the living conditions of Harry and Meghan, the simple, elegant styling of the minimalist surroundings, are exceedingly enviable during a cost-of-living crisis.
But while not predisposed to over-extend sympathy for Etonians, that Harry has spoken out against the public’s sporting abuse of his wife, while at the same time making a strike against the intimidating institution that is his own peculiar family, endears him to me very much. It is my hope he will get through to those who need to hear his message most; those men who will only listen, at first, to other men.
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