Meghan, who is biracial, said when she was pregnant, there were “concerns and conversations” about how dark her son Archie’s skin would be. She also opened up about having suicidal thoughts after joining the royal family, in part due to her treatment by the British press. The troubling revelations prompted serious social media discussion about race, the royal family and the tabloids.
But Twitter’s mug also filled to the rim with jokes — mostly about tea.
“Y’all this is TOO MUCH PIPING HOT BRITISH TEA,” tweeted writer Mekita Rivas.
“ONCE AGAIN AMERICA WILL DEFEAT THE BRITISH MONARCHY BY SPILLING TEA,” wrote University of Miami professor Gabrielle Cornish.
Writer Dana Schwartz took a similar tack, tweeting, “Meghan is like, oh so I heard you british people like tea????”
A user going by the name Rob Bob wrote, “an American’s about to expose the British royalty. We haven’t had this kind of Boston tea since 1776.”
Even Dan Rather got in on the action, tweeting, “The last time this much British tea was spilled there were man-of-war ships in Boston harbor.”
Many of the tweets, of course, call back to 1773’s Boston Tea Party, in which American colonists dumped imported British tea into the harbor to protest “taxation without representation” by the Brits — an analogy that nods to Meghan’s American citizenship and her and Harry’s new home in California. That reference has been mashed together with the phrase “spill the tea,” which has become popular Internet slang for “when one tells an especially juicy bit of gossip,” according to Urban Dictionary. Many suggest the phrase originated in drag culture, in which “T” stands for truth, and was popularized in part by Lady Chablis in the book “Midnight in the Garden and Good and Evil.”
During the interview, Meghan also revealed that she went to royal human resources in search of help, only to be told, “There’s nothing we can do to protect you, because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.”
Many found dark humor in how relatable the experience was.
“It was devastating to hear Meghan Markle and Prince Harry reveal that Human Resources said, ‘we see the problem but we can’t help you,’” tweeted Omri Rolan. “But it was also comforting to know The Monarchy uses the same HR company as all the start-ups I used to work for.”
Another user put it a bit more succinctly: “so the HR department is useless no matter where you go.”
One person imagined royal Human Resources as Toby Flenderson, the sad sack, ineffectual HR rep from “The Office.”
Others imagined what writers of Netflix’s series “The Crown” might be thinking as they watched the interview and considered future episodes. Finally, images of Oprah’s reactions during the interview went viral.
Case-in-point: Writer Nadirah Simmons, who works at “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," tweeted an image of Oprah with her hands up along with the caption, “please know i’m going to run this image into the ground, it’s perfect for everything lol.”
As one user put it, “One thing about Oprah [is] she will give you a meme.”
And, of course, she was Photoshopped into other scenarios, such as one in which she interviews the main characters of the hit Marvel show “WandaVision."
At this point, the meme-ification of just about any large event is inevitable. Twitter has created a world in which even the most serious incident becomes another occasion for making jokes. They’re then collected by reporters and made into roundups, like this one. But, inevitably, some of those jokes can come across as poorly timed, tone-deaf or downright cruel — and often spark backlash. This case was no different.
As musician Eve Belle tweeted, “I don’t love memes being made out of the Meghan interview, even if their ‘good-spirited’. This is a woman talking about how she was tormented and abused. It feels in bad taste. Be compassionate and take her seriously.”
And comic-book writer Ron Marz suggested, “So I see the meme-ification of the Harry and Meghan interview is already in full swing, and ... I dunno, maybe just leave them alone?”
This story has been updated.