An Anglo-American, who's spent years living in the US and UK, Paul has long been fascinated by celebrity culture and the British royals.
There are few celebrities in the world that divide opinion quite like Meghan Markle. The Duchess of Sussex has large amounts of both dedicated detractors and passionate defenders.
While both groups can agree that Markle is disliked in some quarters, they each have radically different explanations for why this is the case.
Critics of the duchess tend to see her as a privileged person who likes to play the victim. She's also been accused of being a bully, excessively self-centered, and manipulative, as well as behaving in an affectedly woke and hypocritical way on many social, environmental, and political issues.
Defenders of Markle, on the other hand, see attacks on her as being motivated by prejudices such as racism, sexism, and snobbery, and fueled by a brutal British establishment and cruel media culture.
This article looks at the all the main reasons that people give for why Markle is denigrated. I begin with five of those used by her critics, before looking at five that are given by fans.
5 Reasons Why Meghan Markle's Disliked, According to Her CRITICS
Here are five main charges that are often made against the Duchess of Sussex:
- Privileged person who plays the victim
- Controlling and bullying
- Less than truthful
- Overly concerned with social status
I explore each of these accusations in more detail below:
1. Privileged person who plays the victim
Despite having gained a great deal of wealth, fame, and social status through her marriage to Harry, Meghan Markle often portrays herself in podcasts and interviews as somebody whose been treated unfairly. This can seem incongruous to many, as lots of people struggle through life without all the resources that Markle possesses.
While it seems clear from her media output that Markle wants to portray herself as a strong person, whose got where she is through her own efforts, her fame was largely achieved through marriage and she comes across as insecure and vindictive.
2. Controlling and bullying
Critics of Meghan Markle have consistently accused her of being controlling and manipulative, particularly towards her husband Harry. She does appear to have a tendency to dominate the conversation and seek the limelight during interviews.
Staff who worked in the royal household have also complained about bullying by Markle, according to a report that appeared in The Times. Leaked emails written by Jason Knauf, a former Kensington Palace communications secretary, suggested that the duchess had displayed "totally unacceptable" behavior.
Spokespeople for the duchess said that the bullying allegations were part of a smear campaign designed to discredit Markle.
3. Less than truthful
There have been numerous allegations that Meghan Markle has exaggerated, misled, or otherwise not been faithful to the facts in her public statements.
One such example was when she claimed that a Lion King cast member told her that the reaction in South Africa to her royal wedding was for people to celebrate in the streets like "when Mandela was freed from prison."
This anecdote caused confusion as the only cast member of South African nationality said that he'd never met Markle.
It's possible that she was actually referring to the South African composer Lebohang Morake, known as Lebo M, whom she did meet at the movie's London premiere in 2019.
However, Lebo M denied saying the words that Markle was referring to, adding that: "I cannot even tell you now what month she married or what year."
The Duchess of Sussex has played an active role in promoting various causes, including: environmental, social, and political. It's led to a backlash in certain quarters with some people claiming that she does not practice what she preaches.
Examples of her alleged hypocrisy include:
- Extorting about the environment, while flying around the globe in private jets
- Claiming that she's very ordinary, while spending lavishly on clothing and houses and living extravagantly
- Gaining fame and wealth from her association the British royal family, while simultaneously attacking them
5. Overly concerned with social status
For someone who pushes an egalitarian agenda, Markle can seem at times to be excessively concerned with the social status of herself and her family. She seems to desire the standing that goes with being a royal without wanting all the baggage that goes along with it.
She was widely reported, for example, to be furious when she found out that her children Archie and Lilibet wouldn't get HRH status on the grounds that the Sussexes weren't working royals.
5 Reasons Why Meghan Markle's Disliked, According to Her FANS
Here's why the Duchess of Sussex's supporters say that she continues to be wrongfully maligned:
- People side with the establishment
- Media feeds the hate
I look at these five reasons in more detail below:
Racial prejudice is the "elephant in the room," as far as many of Markle's defenders are concerned and it explains many of the double standards that the duchess has to endure.
Comparisons are drawn between the different treatment given to Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. While Middleton regularly receives reverential treatment, Markle too often gets attacked for no good reason, often being subjected to negative stereotypes and innuendo.
Markle's husband, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has publicly stated that one of the main reasons that a rift developed between the couple and the other royals was racism.
During a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, he alleged that a member of the royal family came to Harry while Markle was pregnant with their son Archie with “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born.”
The British royal family is built on the idea of a rigid social hierarchy. An American commoner, who's also a divorcee, is never going to be accepted by the snooty royals. They see their way of doing things, which is rooted in centuries of history, as the one and only way. Merkle, with her more modern and egalitarian outlook, is a threat to their staid and privileged world.
We live in a world of gender inequality. The Duchess of Sussex is a strong woman and many people resent that. They would prefer Markle to be more like Kate Middleton and behave with a greater degree of passivity and conformism.
Feminism is never going to sit easily with the British royals. It's only relatively recently that they finally came around to making the rules of succession equal for men and women.
Despite there being some powerful female monarchs over the years, women in the British royals are generally expected to follow very traditional female roles.
4. People side with the establishment
The royal family are very much at the top of the British establishment. Despite their reticence to respond directly to criticisms in public, they do have an enormous amount of power at their disposal. This doesn't just consist of their own wealth and status, but also includes the resources of the nation state that they head.
There was always a sense that Meghan Merkle was an outsider when she married into the royal family. She herself has stated that she never felt fully welcome. However, a lot of people, especially in the UK, automatically take the side of the royal establishment and this translates into expressing antipathy towards Markle, leaving her to feel like she's in a David and Goliath situation.
5. Media feeds the hate
Much of the vitriol directed against Meghan Markle is generated and fueled by the media, according to her supporters, particularly in the UK. The negativity shown towards the duchess makes money, as it sells newspapers and lures in additional viewers for shows.
While no public figures can expect to be immune from criticism, the level of anger that the British tabloids direct towards Markle is troubling. If Meghan goes to a royal event, the media fume; if she stays at home, they are livid. There seems to be nothing that she can do that will please the media.
Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has described the British media's treatment of himself and Markle as "toxic" and a major reason for their exit from the royal family.
It's difficult to see any major changes in attitudes toward Meghan Markle happening soon. The debate over her personality and behavior is too fraught and draws upon too many emotionally charged issues.
As with all controversial celebrities, people will pick their side. I myself tend to be more sympathetic towards the views of the critics. While I liked the Duchess of Sussex initially, her personality has worn thin for me over time.
That said, I wouldn't describe myself as a "hater." I do believe, though, that even if she genuinely perceives herself to be the target of unfair coverage, she does need to also remember that she is a person of great wealth, social status, and influence. Too often, she appears to project a sense of victimhood and this can seem incongruous to many people, including myself.
If she wants to be more liked, which I believe she does, she should perhaps reexamine her approach toward public relations.
© 2022 Paul Goodman