A Grim Fairy Tale
I’m that person. The one who’s going to be a party pooper about the impending royal nuptials. I won’t get overly political, but I will say that I find the notion of a hereditary monarchy abhorrent. I disagree vehemently with the notion that a person should have the right to live in a palace, be waited on hand and foot, and be lavished at taxpayers’ expense simply by dint of having slid out of the right birth canal. That anyone is sitting on a throne in 2018 is outrageous.
All that being said, I do understand why people love the British royals. Society pages full of gossip recounting palace intrigue were the first reality shows. And there’s a veneer of respectability all the pomp and pageantry puts on top of it that makes the ostentatious displays of wealth not seem quite so vulgar.
I’m too young to really remember Princess Diana’s wedding. But I do recall the never-ending torrent of tabloid stories, the nasty divorce, and all the tumultuous drama that culminated in her death — a horrible car crash as she was being chased by paparazzi through a Paris tunnel.
Why on earth would anyone volunteer to live like that?
That’s the question I asked when Kate and Wills got engaged, and I keep staring in disbelief of photos of another smiling, attractive young woman who’s lined up to be grist for that mill.
Meghan Markle certainly looks the part of a princess. She’s poised, stylish and likeable. We all can see what Harry’s drawn to. If she’d been a bigger star, I might have even gone so far as to call her a 21st century Grace Kelly.
But there are rough edges that she can do little to sandpaper away. Her family is horrible. They’ve run to tell tales to the tabloids in ways that aren’t just selfish and moneygrubbing, they are outright vindictive. I suppose family ties blind. Meghan Markle knows what her family are, but she didn’t pay them off and bind them to non-disclosure agreements the moment she realized things were serious with Harry. It’s a mercenary way to behave, but if you can’t escape the wolves around you, you have to feed them. It’s having to think like that, having to dirty up your already fraught relationships even more that always made celebrity seem horrifying to me.
Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, struck up an odd friendship with Michael Jackson while they were alive. They were the two most famous people on the planet, and maybe they were the only ones who could truly understand each other’s suffering. It’s the kind of agony you’re meant to remain silent about, because you have no right to complain, not just because you have what everyone else thinks they want, but because you chose the spotlight, and if the heat of the bright lights burns you death, well, you asked for it, didn’t you?
People who haven’t lived through it can’t understand fame. Especially not on the scale brought on by becoming a British royal.
Experience is a cruel teacher, and I worry about the lessons Meghan Markle is going to be forced to learn. Especially about how very nearly passing for White won’t satisfy much of the British public, who’ve only ever experienced a lily-white royal family.
Princess Michael of Kent wore a blackamoor brooch to an event Markle attended. Her choice of adornment was racist, a clear shot across the bow about the “sort of person” she wouldn’t stand to see infiltrate the royal family. These are the kinds of slights Markle is going to have to put up with. And the irony is that they probably won’t come from the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William. They will come from the hangers-on, from the extended family who’ll never move up the line of succession. They will come from the staff. That seems like an incredibly lonely way to live even if you have a supportive family to lean on, which Markle doesn’t.
Then there’s the vicious British press who will pounce on any misstep Markle makes and pronounce her “unworthy” of her position. The British tabloids make TMZ look like choirboys. They hounded Princess Diana to her death and hacked a dead child’s cell phone — mucking up a police investigation. Their utter shamelessness is something I don’t think anyone can truly fathom until they have to face it for themselves.
Even the people who are trying to hold Markle up and support her are being super gross. There’s a contingent of “woke” Black Twitter that sees Markle’s ascension as some sort of triumph for them. They’re in raptures over every detail of her wedding plans and are claiming her newly-minted status as a victory for Black women, who can now aspire to marrying a Handsome White Prince. They also become enraged when articles about Markle giving Black women “hope” are written, calling them condescending and disrespectful. There’s a trying to have it both ways that’s just bizarre. I don’t get how anyone who claims to be about the liberation of Black people could give a damn about anything the British royals do, much less be jumping up and down in excitement about one of them getting married.
And here, I will get political. I am Jamaican. I am the descendant of enslaved Africans. My country was a British colony until 1962. The British Crown has stolen too much from my people for me to celebrate a White-passing Black woman getting to spend their blood money and wear their pilfered jewels. I don’t trust any Black person cheering this on as far as I can pick them up and throw them.
I’m sorry, but I find little to celebrate in this affair. It’s too grim a fairy tale.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seem like nice people, and I wish them the best, but ultimately, this all has nothing to do with me. Each peek I take into it only cements my instinct to stay away. It’s a hideous spectacle.
If I were in their shoes, I’d elope.