The Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle definitely went viral. And it was not as though this was surprising; English royalty have forever been fodder for the media. And the common public loves devouring news about present day royals. Every move, statement or visit concerning the house of Windsor is under public scrutiny. It was little wonder then that the said interview would garner immense attention.
At first glance, Meaghan’s predicament does pull at one’s heart strings. It seems to portray a picture of misery and of feeling suffocated and confined. So extreme was the experience of being a royal that she even contemplated taking her own life. While her mental anguish and physical pains cannot be undermined, let us take a closer glance, now that the dust has settled.
There is nothing extraordinary here
Meaghan Markle outlined a story that really is quite run of the mill. Every family, regardless of them being royalty or commoners, have their fair share of problems. What is also not uncommon is for family members to make snide remarks. In the context of Indians especially, family members are often attending a wedding to seek out what was not done right. In most cases, this would seem extraordinary given that either family has actually done them a favour by even inviting them to their special event.
Following a wedding, the next ‘red-letter day’ of sorts, in the family sphere, is the birth of a child. Again, the first question that is top of mind is whether the baby is light or dark skinned. This is interesting given Indians mostly hail from the same lineage. In simple terms, racism is often seen within the same set of people. Are we Indians then sometimes practitioners of ‘intraracism’?
The term race is itself quite myopic and maybe it was only intended to categorise human migrations over the ages. After all, humans first began dwelling in the African continent and then migrated to all other areas. Meanwhile, skin colour in humans is determined by a pigment called melanin. There is higher secretion of this pigment in people living closer to the equator because the sunshine is strongest there. It serves as the body’s natural defence mechanism. In case of people living further from the equator, there is less melanin secretion and therefore, skin tones are lighter.
Now whether Prince Harry and Duchess Markle’s baby is light or dark is inconsequential and unpleasant remarks, even if received, need to be simply swept under the rug. Perhaps you may ask why? Why should one not speak out loud and vent? Allow me to explain.
People’s memories are very short
If one hasn’t observed by now, people’s memories are extremely short. What was said one day will likely be forgotten the next. Conversely, what someone detests today, they may become highly fond of in due course. There is no better analogy than to suggest how politicians go about their business. When a certain party is in the opposition, they are usually averse to most proposals of the ruling party but when the tables turn, the earlier opposition is found putting forth the same proposals. And the ordinary electorate buys it because who recalls what happened only a few years ago?
In Meaghan Markle’s case, I see it completely as a case of washing one’s dirty linen in public and exercising regular hypocrisy. In one breath, she wants to live the life of a common citizen but in another, she desires a security entourage. Markle was even surprised that she would have to follow royal protocol and maintain ‘standard operating procedure’ in the Queen’s presence. Marrying into royalty entails, I am sure, a far more formal life. These are elements she would have easily gathered well before her marriage because she’d been invited to family occasions well before she and Harry were man and wife.
Quit washing dirty linen in public
The question on my mind is that if someone is wondering whether the baby is going to be white, black, brown or yellow, what really is the big deal? Chances are it was a statement in jest and when you have chosen a life where you are going be among British royalty, a few such remarks will come your way. In case of Princess Diana, she was of the same race and even had aristocratic lineage. Yet, she was considered an ordinary commoner, and bore the brunt of prejudice. What is even more surprising is the fact that Meaghan at no point mentioned seeking her mother’s counsel to tide over her mental agony. Meaghan’s mother–Doria Ragland–worked as a mental health social worker until as recently as 2018.
It must be reiterated that problems of the marital, mental or other kinds elude no one. They are as much part and parcel as are life’s high moments. We do not live in Utopia, we are all hypocrites and the best we can do is to grow a tough hide and quit washing dirty linen in public!