The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

For Britain’s vicious tabloids, Meghan remains a constant target

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visits Chester Town Hall with Queen Elizabeth II on June 14, 2018, in Chester, England. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

LONDON — Meghan may have found her prince, but it seems Britain’s media is determined she won’t get the complete fairy tale.

Since the news broke three years ago that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were dating, British tabloid interest in the pair has been incessant, and it’s been nasty. So much so that in November 2016, Prince Harry issued an unusually fierce statement in which he called out racist and sexist media coverage of his then-girlfriend and said he was concerned for her safety.

The former actress — now Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — is a biracial American with a white father and an African American mother. She is proud of her heritage and has not shied away from talking about her racial background.

But, to the scavenging British tabloids, Meghan will always be an outsider.

“Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton” wrote the Daily Mail in 2016, focusing on the Los Angeles neighborhood of Meghan’s mother, Doria. In 2017, the Sun apologized over its 2016 story headlined, “Harry’s girl on Pornhub.”

In the weeks before the couple’s May 2018 royal wedding, the press zeroed in on Meghan’s family, with particular focus on her rocky relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, and her half sister, Samantha. They dug into her father’s financial problems and his health while intensely speculating about whether he would make the wedding. He did not.

Since marrying into the royal family and officially becoming duchess of Sussex, Meghan has continued to draw bitter media coverage — despite calls from Buckingham Palace for the media to “pause and reflect” on their coverage of her.

The Duchess of Sussex chose to feature 15 women she considers "forces for change" on the cover of the September issue of British Vogue that she guest edited. (Video: Reuters)

According to negative takes in the tabloids, Meghan and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, have been virtually at war — causing a rift between Harry and his brother, Prince William. Royal fans were angry at the couple’s decision to make the christening in May of their son Archie a small and private affair. More recently, the press pounced on Meghan’s guest-edit of the September edition of British Vogue.

MEG’S LEFTIE ISSUE,” declared the Sun newspaper, which said she was celebrating women with “leftie views.” The Daily Mail’s Piers Morgan labeled the duchess “Me-Me-Meghan” and slammed her project as a “shamelessly hypocritical super-woke Vogue stunt.”

Others demanded to know why Meghan had not included Queen Elizabeth II on the cover as one of the women she admires.

“A guest editorship of Vogue featuring a list of inspirational women, half of whom no one’s ever heard of,” wrote controversial columnist Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail. “You fail to nominate the one truly inspirational woman in your life, the Queen, whose years of selfless devotion to this country knock all of the others into a cocked hat.”

Meghan fans, however, believe she did everything right: She opted not to appear on the front cover herself, saying it would be a “boastful” of her to do so. She spotlighted 15 important women to know — from Ni­ger­ian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

She even included a mirror in the cover’s 16th spot, signaling to readers that they, too, have the power to create change.

Morgan, who, like Vine, is known for penning particularly controversial pieces for the Mail, accused her of caring more about “promoting herself than the Royal Family or Britain.” Morgan also noted that Meghan did not meet President Trump during his summer state visit to Britain but found the time to work with Vogue. Meghan worked on the project for seven months, starting in January.

Days after the birth of Archie, British radio host Danny Baker was fired from the BBC after writing a racist tweet that compared the newest royal to a chimpanzee. He later apologized following a slew of complaints and defended his actions, saying he had meant to compare the royals to circus animals.

British radio host fired for racist tweet comparing Archie Harrison to a chimp

In the September edition of British Vogue, Prince Harry talked openly about how many people don’t understand the “unconscious bias” at play with racism, how they can be biased without knowing it. Harry’s comments were made in a question-and-answer interview with primatologist Jane Goodall, published Tuesday on the magazine’s website.

The two spoke about climate change, the environment and how Harry plans to have only “two, maximum!” children. They also spoke about how, as Harry put it, “stigma is handed down from generation to generation.”

Harry described “unconscious bias” as “something which so many people don’t understand, why they feel the way that they do. Despite the fact that if you go up to someone and say, ‘What you’ve just said, or the way that you’ve behaved, is racist’ — they’ll turn around and say, ‘I’m not a racist.’"

The prince added: “I’m not saying that you’re a racist. I’m just saying that your unconscious bias is proving that, because of the way that you’ve been brought up, the environment you’ve been brought up in, suggests that you have this point of view — unconscious point of view — where naturally you will look at someone in a different way.”