The trashy newspapers reporting the so-called feud between Meghan and Kate is about as predictable as our Christmas dinner – turkey, always turkey. As soon as the engagement was announced I was waiting for the tabloids to start throwing shade over Meghan and Kate. We didn’t have to wait that long.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner
The press laid off Meghan to start with. They indulged her, showered us with romantic tales of how Meghan likes to cook Harry roast chicken on an evening. Oh how quaint, how normal is what I presumed we were supposed to think. My reaction was – you are cooking roast chicken on a weekday! How have you got the time? Is it a whole roast chicken, for just the two of you? How indulgent! I was slightly envious of their midweek romantic roast chicken evenings. It brought new meaning to the phrase – winner, winner, chicken dinner. Then the wedding happened and the press graced Meghan with a 6 month honeymoon period, all seemed gloriously rosy. At last “hapless” Harry had found love. Isn’t Meghan marvellous? Yada, yada. We all know how the British press works though, they like to build them up so that they can tear them down again.
Tearing them down
6 months later and the chicken dinner has been consigned to the bin Now we are drowning under a flurry of reporting of this so called feud and fall out. Yawn, yawn, it’s banal and boring and it reveals that we are still very much living in a patriarchal society in which the menfolk are very much intimidated by women, especially when those women could form a formidable team. That’s why the papers are doing their best to rip them apart and bring them down. The media is revealing its misogynistic ways once again.
All about the clothes
Firstly, it started with the clothes. It’s always the clothes. Women don’t have brains, don’t you know? We are merely clothes horses meant for parading our wares in front of the man, we are there purely for the male gaze. Sorry, I am going to get down from my high horse (see what I did there?) and explain what I mean. According to the press, Meghan and Kate are not capable of having their own fashion sense (i.e brain) instead they copy other women. In the past Kate has been accused of copying the way the late Princess Diana dressed. Those articles in particular bring out my inner-rage. How can they be so insensitive by comparing Kate to the Princess Diana? Pitting her against a dead woman is a new low. They are in effect silencing her and putting her in the shadow of Diana. That’s an uncomfortable legacy to be saddled with.
Meghan also found herself being very unfairly compared to Princess Diana. Old school friends came out of the woodwork to claim that she loved Princess Diana and how she had always dreamt of growing up to be like the princess. In effect, we were being asked to question Meghan’s motives for marrying Harry. Then the press started pitting Meghan against Kate. A tiresome and predictable formula that has been played out so many times before. We only have to look back to the reporting of Diana and Sarah Ferguson who, according to the press, were jealous and competitive over their charity work.
We have had the pathetic headlines – who wore it better? Other articles claiming that Kate is copying Meghan’s style. We are told endlessly about “how different Kate and Meghan’s personalities are”. I would say that Prince William and Harry also have very different personalities but we don’t see that being critiqued to death. All we are told is that these women are apparently destroying the brothers’ previously very close relationship. The inference being that these women are manipulative, jealous (of each other) and destructive. The poor brothers are helpless and caught in the web. In particular, the press seem to have taken against Meghan and that reveals deep prejudice. They may as well have painted her as a Siren from Greek Mythology, luring Harry to his death.
However, this isn’t the stuff of myths or legends, it’s a modern society, although how modern are we really? The press has taken against Meghan for a number of reasons. Firstly, she is deemed a commoner, just like Kate; Kate had to ride that storm out too. However, unlike Kate, Meghan is American and I can’t help but wonder if some of the reporting stems from unconscious racism. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the papers celebrated Meghan, but no, instead they are peddling the usual stereotypes. We have had reports that Meghan is demanding and brash. We have been told that on one occasion Meghan reduced Kate to tears. They are painting Meghan to be the villain of this piece. Why? It seems that the press doesn’t like it when a woman is ambitious and knows her mind. Meghan can’t win.
We need to put into context the supposed time Meghan made Kate cry. It was during a bridesmaid fitting for Charlotte. If this did happen, then it’s perfectly understandable. Wedding preparations are stressful and fraught at the best of times, this was no ordinary wedding though, this was a royal wedding. Imagine the stress and pressure. On top of this Kate had recently given birth and Meghan was having to deal with the almost daily drama of her family speaking to the press. If things did get a bit frazzled between them it’s no surprise and it certainly shouldn’t be used as a yardstick for measuring how well they get on. We all fall out with family members because we are only human.
Meghan is criticised for rising at 5 am and starting her working day at this time. It’s too pushy, too LA. Yet, if this was a man, if this was Prince Harry, the press would be praising him for it. When a man rises early he is applauded. We are often told that the key to success is to get up early. There are whole books dedicated to the idea of getting up early and achieving success. Look at Hal Elrod and his bestselling book The Miracle Hour. For men, getting up early means they are a go-getter and hardworking. For Meghan it means that she is demanding. It’s hardly fair, but then being a woman isn’t. For Meghan it must feel impossible at times.
Can you imagine marrying into the Royal Family? No, and thankfully most of us won’t have to play that scenario because why it might seem like a fairytale from a distance, we know that the reality is a bit of a nightmare. They are a privileged, difficult and dysfunctional family, who probably make our own family seem normal. Meghan already had the odds stacked against her, the world’s press focussing on her every move; criticising her for breaking royal protocol, wearing her skirt too high, bare legs, inappropriate hair. The list is endless. Basically, she is being criticised for daring to be herself. To Meghan, it must feel like the press are demanding that she forgets her identity. They want her to be less American, less ambitious, they want her to blend into the background, a situation that many women will be able to relate to.
It seems that the press need to be reminded that we now live in a ‘modern’ society. Women don’t need to be enemies, they can get along. The press also needs to stop its prejudice of Meghan. We have seen this same old tired scenario played out so many times before. I recently listened to an interesting podcast – The High Low with guests Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebiene, authors of The Black Girl Bible, who discuss what it’s like to be a young, black woman in the UK and why representation is so important. They found that in 2013-2015 only 12% of trainee teachers were not white. The press should be celebrating Meghan, not trying to break her. Some of the press needs to take a step back, they need to unpick what they are doing and ask themselves why. These prejudices don’t form in a vacuum and they need to stop. Yomi and Elizabeth also talk about the “black angry woman” stereotype, a similar stereotype that the press seems to be pushing onto Meghan.
They discuss the reporting of Keisha Buchanan and Mutya Buena from the Sugarbabes and how it compared to her white bandmate, Heidi Range. How Keisha was portrayed as a bully, Mutya as moody and how Heidi was this sweet angel. There is a complete double-standard in our society. A white woman, such as Gemma Collins, who is forthright and confident is celebrated, where a black woman will be criticised. The media is guilty of having double standards. It’s painting Meghan as the villain and Kate as the sweet, innocent and hurt sister-in-law.
A new narrative
The current narrative of two women at war is damaging and dangerous. Isn’t it time that the media stopped peddling this fallacy? The female feud is a very boring and tired storyline. It’s time to rewrite the stories. It’s time to embrace a new narrative with opinionated and strong duchesses. The press needs to get with the times and embrace the modern royal family.