Our generation does not remember Princess Diana, or the treatment she faced by the media. We know she was hounded; we know she died.
Conspiracy theorists even believe she was murdered, trying time and time again to prove the Royal family are to blame. They’re not; the media is. Surely we can’t know what it was like to read about Diana in the news every day?
But, we actually kind of do. Not a day goes by without a story on Meghan Markle: everyday a new dress, a new leaking from her family, a new image of her ‘cradling’ her bump.
Meghan Markle’s assimilation into the Royal family, and into British consciousness and the public eye has not been simple.
It seems that no lessons have been learnt from the fate of the previous ‘People’s Princess’.
There are arguments that this treatment is to be expected for anyone of such high profile; A sense that if Meghan is going to be so prominent in the public eye, then the public are entitled to know everything about her, to harass her, that it makes it ok that her family have leaked all the informa- tion they have about her into the world.
But we are not entitled to any of these things. We are not entitled to Markle. It is one thing for it to be reported that she has attended an event, given patronage, or for it to be breaking news when she soon gives birth.
It is another thing entirely for news outlets to give interviews to her attention seeking, cruel distant family. In the past few weeks, a letter Markle sent to her father was leaked to the Daily Mail.
It could only really have been leaked by one person: him. The man who claimed victimhood when unable to attend Markle’s wedding in May last year.
The man who says he wants reconciliation with his daughter, and yet has caused the severing.
A world where a person’s handwriting can show them to be a ‘narcissist’, as one ‘handwriting expert’ has analysed of the leaked letter, is a world where everything has gone too far.
This isn’t news, it isn’t any semblance of decent reporting, it’s bullying. No matter what the status is of the person receiving the abuse, it is still abuse.
If you type ‘Meghan Markle Bump’ into Google, a myriad of stories appear. One from the Express on the 26th of January stands out, titled, “Meghan CAN’T STOP showing off: Duchess uses these SNEAKY tricks to flaunt her baby bump.” Crude insinuations of attention seeking and sneakiness are bizarre: the bump cannot be hidden.
The article – and all others in the same vein – made me think: Why are we criticising a woman who wants to touch her baby bump anyway?
The reaction to Markle’s apparent bump cradling highlights more about her critics than it does her.
Some people cannot stand the sight of someone seemingly doing ‘better’ than them. It reeks of jealousy. And of course, it is not only jealousy that fuels the media’s torrent of criticism: racism and classism are obvious factors in the media’s treatment of Markle.
There are racist ‘trolls’ on twitter and Instagram, and there are unscrupulous journalists covering Meghan’s every move. I’d suggest there isn’t too much difference between the two.
The media insinuates, and the public pile on, in comment sections, in conversation. It is hard to avoid. I’ve seen more photos of Markle’s baby bump than I’ve seen photos of my own mother in the past few months, and she posts on Instagram all the time.
One of the tabloids’ current Markle obsessions is the rumour that the ‘fab four’ (William, Kate, Harry, Meghan) are fracturing, and that she is to blame. Speculation and unnamed sources have led to a strange situation where we follow the daily activities and dramas of the Royal family as if they are a reality show.
The two couples are reportedly ‘splitting their staff’ as Harry and Meghan move away from Kensington Palace. What is so radical and dramatic about two grown-up brothers finally deciding not to live together? Nothing, really.
It seems that the media is attempting to pull the individuals apart in order to break down each one individually. But their main target will always be Markle.
Most of us will probably remember the media attention given to Kate Middleton before and after her wedding. Everyone was obsessed with her, just as originally, we were all obsessed with Markle in a positive way, but Middleton was never really attacked in the media.
Not to the same extent, anyway. William never had to put out a statement urging the media to leave her alone. In a post-Diana and post-Leveson culture, it is surprising that the media continues to act as it does. Nobody really sees the Royals as ‘real’ people, and in many ways they’re not real. They seem untouchable.
Society is somewhat split into two sides: the side who love the Royals, and hence believe they’re entitled to know everything about them, and the more Republican side who see no point in monarchy existing anymore, and therefore in criticising Markle they think they’re actually attacking the monarchy as a whole.
But the Markle criticism is over the top, insidious, targeted and cruel.
Whilst the media are free to report on events as they do, the practice of giving media space and attention to Markle’s father and other family members highlights a darker side to news which we should be avoiding, not encouraging by reading and watching it.