If the eleven year old Meghan Markle was hurt and angry when she first saw that dish soap advert implying that women’s place was in the kitchen, one wonders what she would have made of the media onslaught against herself just days after announcing her engagement. This period should be one of the happiest times in her life, but I wonder how much hand wringing is going on behind the walls of Nottingham Cottage as media outlets root and dig in to every chapter of her past in a gleeful attempt at sales.
There are always those people in everyone’s life who are best forgotten. The friend who let you down, the sister who got jealous… we all have them. We hope, however, that in a moment of public scrutiny, such people would have the dignity to keep their (and your) past to themselves, no matter how much the bribe. Sadly for Meghan Markle, the people in her life she would probably like to forget are right at the top of the parapet, waving dirty linen and scattering old photographs down on the populace like confetti.
Over the weekend, newspapers have printed private photographs from practically every part of Markle’s life – from chubby cheeked toddler to smiling schoolgirl; gangly teenager to wedding day joys. These photographs have been supplied by an ex-best friend, who has clearly completely sold out the woman she once loved and was inseparable from. It is probably the most bitter pill for Markle to swallow, and she is now unable to reply as a future member of the royal family. It would be unseemly for her to try to explain why their friendship disintegrated – and it is really nobody else’s business. The shame lies with the ex-friend, who has shown to all the world her true sense of loyalty and that she has a price. She has taken her thirty pieces of silver.
She has a price, but Markle has a prince.
Jealousy is a cancer that unless acknowledged and dealt with, will fester and destroy. One hopes that Meghan Markle has the sense to know that this onslaught is born from this – and that she, in her cosy cottage making plans with her royal fiance, has already won the war.
Surely Harry will have told Meghan that this would happen. That the media would dig in to every nook and cranny of her life, unearthing unsavoury characters and unflattering photographs, and if they can’t find anything juicy enough to feed the masses – they might just make it up.
The salivating over every past cleavage shot or sexy scene in Markle’s acting past has a horribly misogynistic undertone, driven by a male dominated media. The wish to reduce a woman who has also worked for the UN to just her body, or what she might do with it, reeks of a wish to demean and to humiliate. It is telling that the young Meghan objected to the wording of a television advert years ago, yet womankind are still being reduced to one dimensional characters in order to sell products. It might be dish soap or it might be a newspaper, but you can get your stereotype here, everyone! At bargain prices!
The latest debacle has been the ‘discovery’ of Markle’s father – a man who clearly lives a quiet life and has stayed out of the spotlight. This hunting down of a private person to see what more can be found out about possible rifts or instability reminds me of a Victorian Freak Show. Roll up, roll up – here is the hermit dug out from his cave! Look at him, wonder at him! It’s shameful and inhumane, yet still the people stare.
Meghan Markle must do what she has done many times in her life – pull her shoulders back, switch on that smile and get her ‘boots on the ground’. As a person, as a three dimensional real person, she is warm, charismatic, kind and hard working. She must not allow herself to be reduced to a cardboard cut out or salacious headline. She must prove the naysayers wrong and push the cupboard skeletons firmly back in as she sashays past with a determined eye on the future.
It is what her younger self would definitely expect.