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Ditching the royal title

by Brittany Reed

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, have chosen to step down from being senior members of the Royal Family in order to work towards financial independence while continuing to support Queen Elizabeth II. Harry and Meghan released a statement on Wednesday, Jan. 8 on both their Instagram account and website announcing their plans to step back and live in both the United Kingdom and Canada. 

According to Buckingham Palace, the statement isn’t official until the spring and will be reviewed after one year. Buckingham Palace also revealed that Harry and Meghan will no longer be “working members” of the Royal Family, meaning they will give up their royal titles and will no longer receive public funding.

The Queen released a statement five days after the couple’s Instagram announcement stating, “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.” The statement also explained her agreement on a “period of transition” where the Duke and Duchess will spend time in both countries.  

“I think that by trying to live separately from the royal family, Meghan and Harry are gaining their own independence and freedom to raise their family how they wish to,” said Caitlyn Miller, University of Tampa junior criminology major. According to NBC News, the couple now has a home in Vancouver Island, Canada.

There are many debates on the reasons why Harry and Meghan have decided to step back from the Royal Family, and one highly discussed argument is the hate and criticism towards Meghan from the British media. Since she began dating Harry in 2016, Meghan has faced serious backlash from British tabloids. 

A 2016, a Daily Mail headline refers to Meghan as “(almost) straight outta Compton,” and declares she comes from a “gang-scarred” home. The racial undertones in this headline, along with many others, sparked discussion over whether or not coverage on Meghan is racist. According to Maya Goodfellow, a journalist at Vox, the remarks made towards Meghan are a perfect example of the “UK press’s continued denial of racism.”    

Meghan is also often bashed for things that Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, is praised for. One Daily Mail article applauds Kate for “tenderly cradling” her baby bump while another questions why Meghan “can’t keep her hands off her bump.” A 2017 Express article tells the story of a boy gifting Prince William an avocado to give Kate for her morning sickness while a 2019 Express article claims that Meghan, the ‘avocado on toast whisperer,’ is linked to drought, deforestation and water shortages.        

“The media is really not a fan of Meghan or the choices she has made, but I think most of the things they are saying are totally incorrect,” said  Hannah Mitchell, sophomore criminology and criminal justice double major. “She gave up her whole life to be with Harry and moved away from family… I think the media is overly critical of her at this point.” 

Harry released a statement in 2016, the year the couple began dating, that confronted the press about their comments. It referenced the struggles Meghan was dealing with, like “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

Harry claimed his worry about Meghan’s safety which continued all the way into 2019. Last October, Harry released another statement stating his concerns about the media’s behavior and announcing that he was taking legal action towards the media’s publishing of a private letter. 

“Media, especially pop culture media, thrives off of ‘exposing’ people and within that toxic culture, I hope someone ‘exposes’ the journalists who are saying these nasty things,” said  Jessica McNeill, sophomore advertising and PR major.         

The question is, will Harry and Meghan’s separation from the Royal Family change anything? Or will the British tabloids continue to bash the family all the way across the Atlantic?

Brittany Reed can be reached at brittany.reed@spartans.ut.edu

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