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Meghan Markle and the Press: Where is the Hate Coming From? PDF Print

12 September 2019

Country: United Kingdom / Australia

by: Eline Jeanné

MeghanIt is no secret that the British monarchy has a certain power over the public; whether that is satisfying their adoring fans or firing up its critics. The UK media plays a large role in this, with barely a week going by without a new story about the royal family. In recent times, this reporting has largely been focused on one new royal: Megan Markle. The American ex-actress married Prince Harry and during her short time as a royal family member, Markle has been the focus of an extraordinary amount of criticism. The media has been criticised for its unfairly negative coverage of Markle, with some media outlets using racist tactics to smear her.

In the most recent example, Australia’s 60 Minutes investigates the “royal crisis,” announcing the new episode along the hashtag #Megxit. One of their main sources? Katie Hopkins.

Hopkins is known for many things. She called for a “final solution” in response to the Manchester terror attack. She has repeatedly described migrants as “cockroaches” and “feral humans.” She used the racial slur “Jigga-Boo” referring to a black man on Twitter, a platform which now acts as her main source of content, and which has been retweeted by Donald Trump. All in all, Hopkins is known for racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, sexism and a myriad of other forms of hate—nevertheless, she was presented as a reliable source for a show on Meghan Markle. Do you see the problem here?

“It’s my royal family. It’s my country. Prince Harry is my Prince Harry,” Hopkins tells 60 Minutes host Karl Stefanovic. “What is she really? She’s a no one. She a divorcee: when did we want a divorcee in the royal family? She wears bad clothes: when did we ask for that? We’ve just got so much better of our own.”

Besides the hints of jealousy, there is a clear message here: Markle is different, an outsider, and she is not welcome in Hopkins’ UK. When asked if she thinks some of her arguments against Markle are founded in racism, she brushes it off, responding: “This racist thing is really old and tired, but I think it’s just people’s way of sort of saying ‘you must not criticize Megan’.”

Patrick Jephson, former private secretary to Princess Diana, was also interview by 60 Minutes. “I think that the whole racial question is entirely misleading,” he claimed. “It’s irrelevant, and I would warn against anybody taking that line as any sort of explanation as to why Megan sometimes doesn’t get the press she necessarily wants.” In response, host Stefanovic claimed that Prince Harry plays “the racism card” often when it comes to his wife. On multiple occasions, the show completely disregards racism as one of the reasons Markle gets the amount of criticism she does, and instead claims it is used as a defence mechanism. This is dangerous and false, as it completely disregards clear cases of racism against her in the past.

In 2016, the Daily Mail published several pieces on Markle with blatant racist language. First, columnist Rachel Johnson described Meghan as having “exotic DNA.” Later, the website took it one step further, running another piece on Meghan titled: “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed – so will he be dropping by for tea?”

In response to this coverage, and similar themes found in other media outlets, Kensington Palace released a rare statement on behalf of Prince Harry, which stated that Markle has “been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment” which included “racial undertones of comment pieces” and “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

The 60 Minutes episode received much criticism, many people calling out the sensationalist reporting and claiming that the inherent racism was clear. People also wondered why the all royal family reporting continues to be on Markle, when Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein has recently been exposed. Surely a royal family member’s ties with a convicted sex offender are more alarming and newsworthy than how Markle carried herself at the U.S. Open? The issue here is why Markle continues to be berated for everything she does.

Scrutiny and criticism of the royal family is not problematic; however, when there is a theme of racism underlying those criticisms, it is time to ask what is actually being criticized.

To read more of our coverage of Katie Hopkins, click here.