Royal reporter says pressure on Meghan Markle is typical — she's just 'complained more'
Harry and Meghan say they will step back from Royal Family, split time between U.K. and North America
In her annual Christmas address, Queen Elizabeth acknowledged that 2019 had been a bumpy year — but she couldn't have anticipated what fresh trouble 2020 would bring.
On Wednesday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced, much to the disappointment of the Queen, that they will be quitting their senior royal roles and moving to North America.
The pair have made no secret that they've had a difficult relationship with the British tabloids. Following their announcement, U.K. reporters and columnists lambasted the couple, calling them petulant and privileged.
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off. Here is part of their conversation.
As you know, the tabloid writers in the U.K. are fuming at Harry and Meghan. How did you react when you learned that they would be quitting their royal duties?
I was as surprised as everybody else. And although we knew that they weren't in a very happy place, we all thought after nearly six weeks in Canada, they're going to be fine and they'll come back refreshed, and, you know, to get on with their life.
But it seems completely the opposite. They've come back and decided this is not the life they want anymore.
But the reaction is so strong, isn't it? The Daily Mail had 17 pages, its first 17 pages, just on this story and called them "rogue royals." ... Prince Harry has been in hot water before. He's been criticized. Why is it so furious in this instance?
I think there's a lot of pent up anger against Meghan because I think the British people rather feel that she's destroyed someone who was actually, you know, in poll terms, the second favourite royal next to the Queen.
And suddenly, he's this angry young man who looks miserable all the time. And I think that they're venting their anger for the first time. I think that's what it is about.
Do you think that Meghan Markle deserves this? I mean, others have said that some of the criticism is racist, it's unfair, it's because she's an American, because Brits are snobs, all kinds of things. Do you think it's justified?
I think, in main, the reporting hasn't been that unfair at all. And she hasn't been chased by paparazzi. She hasn't been hounded. She's actually been treated very well.
There has been some nasty things said about her, but I think it's mostly on social media, and a lot of that just comes from anonymous people.
Remarkable – though not unexpected – developments are announced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. <a href="https://t.co/nOcMgED3MQ">pic.twitter.com/nOcMgED3MQ</a>—@MajestyMagazine
But can you see, perhaps, why that would be disturbing to the couple? They expected it because she's an American woman. She's a woman of colour. It's a very conservative family she's married into. They expected it. But do you think that it, perhaps, really has been too much for the couple to take?
I certainly think it's horrible. And marrying into the Royal Family is not easy. But that was her decision.
If you look at everyone that's married into the Royal Family, they've had a hard time. Fergie had a dreadful time — I mean, much, much, much worse than anything that's happened to Meghan.
Diana didn't have a very easy time at all. Nor did Sophie Wessex. It's hard to marry into this very conservative, straight-laced family with all their traditions.
I don't think Meghan has been treated any worse or better than anyone else. It's just that she's complained more.
I want to talk to you about what their plans seem to be — that they want to work towards becoming financially independent. They want to live on their own, visit every now and then to keep the connection with the royals. What does that mean?
I think what it means is that what they want is to have one foot in the Royal Family and one foot out of the Royal Family. Well, this has never worked before.
But the Queen is determined that it has to work because she doesn't want to see her grandson, Prince Harry, unhappy. She doesn't want another broken marriage. And she doesn't want to break what she considers is a very important union between England and the U.S. And she also sees how valuable Harry and Meghan are for the Commonwealth.
There's a lot of things going for them. So she is going to turn herself, or get her senior advisers, to turn themselves inside out with trying to find a solution to this problem.
The Queen's relationship with Prince Harry has always been pretty special. Do you think she has made direct approaches to him?
No. She doesn't like personal confrontation, and although Harry is said to have made a direct approach to the Queen ... she has said, wisely: Come to me with a plan. Don't just throw things at me. You go to your father. You sort it out. We'll help you, but I'm not going to discuss it with you until you have formulated a plan that might work.
I think it is very disrespectful of Harry, and I blame him more than Meghan because he is a prince, a prince of the blood, and why should she know exactly how to behave in this one?
Written by Jeanne Armstrong and John McGill. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.