Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down from their royal duties led to criticism from the British media, dubbing the act “Megxit.”
“The British tabloids are brutal,” said Katie Locke, an Asheville local who lived in London for 10 years. “In some ways, the British media is much more transparent than the American media in terms of politics. The newspapers are sort of all declared that they are a liberal paper or conservative paper. So you kind of know the bias that you are getting. Whereas in America we tend to say ‘Oh everything is unbiased’ which really isn’t very true.”
Locke keeps up to date on British news and said the treatment of Markle remains brutal.
“I think that Meghan had two strikes against her, being mixed race is one and being an American. The British media really like to be cruel to Americans,” Locke said. “The combination has to lead to her being treated very unfairly. A lot of what they say in jest is very racist and really horrific.”
She said the media’s relationship with Markle indicates covert racism.
“Overtly racist? No. But the fact is that they are treating her so differently than they do Kate Middleton. I think it’s definitely an example of racism. Some of the other things that have happened— There’s Princess Michael of Kent who wore the blackface broach to meet Meghan Markle. I think a politician or someone in the palace that referred to their child as a chimp,” she said. “This is my opinion as an outsider. I think that the average English person loves to complain about the royalty every chance and be critical of them every chance they get. But on the other hand, they also love the pomp and circumstance. They love the parades and the weddings and all of that. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship I think.”
When it comes to her own thoughts on the matter, Locke remains supportive of the couple’s decision to step down from their royal duties.
“I think that it is absolutely their choice. I think they are at this point fairly far removed from him ever being the king. So, I think they ought to be able to step down and do whatever they choose to do,” Locke said.
UNCA exchange students from the United Kingdom, Liv Pattimore and Georgia Forrest have differing opinions on the matter.
Pattimore said the move from royalty seemed inevitable.
“Personally I don’t really like it. I understand you’re born into it and won’t necessarily like what you’re born into, but from the media, in the U.K. the perception is that it’s very much Meghan’s decision. Like kind of pulling him away and I think as well from some of the engagements he’s done recently you can see his sadness and disappointment knowing that it’s some of his last. He’s been stripped of a lot of stuff. I think in terms of that, a lot of his achievements are going to disappear as a result. But at the same time, you can’t necessarily judge because I don’t know her. I don’t know if he’s doing it because he really loves her and wants to protect his family,” Pattimore said. “The royal family is a big tradition. They are changing it very quickly and I don’t think people are responding well to how quickly it’s changing.”
Pattimore sees Markle as being able to fulfill the royal duties.
“You have to uphold moral standards and stuff. I think Meghan Markle definitely has all of those with the charity work she does. I just think that some of it has just come across in the wrong way,” she said.
Forrest, who casually follows the British royal family, admitted that British media knows no boundaries.
“They’ll get into your personal life without even caring,” she said.
Forrest said while the media has a bias toward Markle, she should have been more aware of the situation she was getting herself into.
“I don’t know what she expected. I know that the media was horrible to her and everything, but I don’t know what she expected. She was going to be in the limelight either way. So to just completely leave and step down, I think that was a bit of an extreme move, especially for Harry as well. That was his life,” Forrest said. “I don’t mind them moving abroad. It’s 2020 we can move wherever we want to go. I think stepping down from the duties, I do think that’s a bit extreme.”