Meghan Markle: Escaping the Crown investigates the role that the monarchy and British tabloid media played in vilifying Markle. As the saga continues with Harry and Meghan’s loss of royal branding, the documentary confronts issues of race, prejudice, and obsession in a story that now threatens to upend one of the longest-running institutions in the world.
The episode features exclusive interviews with palace insiders and experts, including William and Harry’s former butler, the American wives of the British aristocracy, and royal correspondents.
2. THE STAKES WERE HIGH FOR SMALL MISTAKES
When Meghan inevitably got things “wrong” (remember when she closed her own car door?)—or just chose to do them her own way—Escaping the Crown underscores how quickly people (within the family, within the aristocracy, within the press) would call her out. As British journalist Ash Sarkar phrases it, “If you get one little bit of royal protocol wrong, it will be read as proof of your inherent unworthiness.”
To underscore that point, the doc interviews Kay Dilday, an American woman of colour who married into the upper echelons of British society. “I began to realize that there were some very different ways that they handled themselves,” she says. “There’s a fish plate, there’s a fish knife, there’s grape scissors…all of these things that I hadn’t encountered before. It’s easy to feel that you are an ‘other,’ and you can feel that people are judging you.”
3. MEGHAN FACED RACISM BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE PALACE
The doc explores how Meghan might have felt as a woman of colour entering a very, very white institution. “On the daily, she’s going to be dealing with a whole bunch of microaggressions,” says comedian Sophie Duker, putting herself in Meghan’s shoes. “She’s still going to have to listen to people saying the most incredible bullshit and have to keep quiet because she’s doing it for the person she loves.”
Case in point: The racist blackamoor brooch that Princess Michael of Kent (who is married to the Queen’s cousin) wore to a lunch where she would meet Meghan for the first time. And it’s not a newsflash that Meghan’s treatment by much of the British media was a direct result of racism.
4. MEGHAN WASN’T SUPPORTED BY THE ROYAL FAMILY
According to Scobie, “with the exception of Harry, the Royal Family [stuck] to protocol and didn’t get involved” while Meghan was subject to racist attacks in the tabloid media. “They should have been defending her when she faced struggles that no other royal woman had had to face before. That silence spoke volumes.”
Duker references the horror movie Get Out, in which people of colour are hypnotized so their bodies can be taken over by wealthy white people. “I feel like Meghan Markle’s cameo inside the Royal Family has been like watching the sequel to Get Out. It’s just like the entire time I see pictures of her in the press or doing an interview, I’m like, ‘What are you doing? You’re in the Sunken Place. You need to leave.’”
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
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