If Meghan Markle Was a Disney Princess, We’d All Be Cheering Her On

Shannon Ashley

But this is the real world, and she’s got our own expectations weighing her down.

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Meghan Markle is once again making headlines for living her life.

In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, the Duchess opened up about a miscarriage she suffered over the summer, and once again, the internet has decided grill her. "I thought she wanted privacy," her critics tease, as if the woman can never share a public opinion again. Much like with Chrissy Teigen, folks can't seem to live and let live. Instead, many people have taken to social media to declare that these women are engaged in nothing but publicity stunts.

This reaction is an exhausting reminder of why so many women like you and I are hesitant to speak up about our own real-life experiences.

After all, if royals and high-profile celebrities aren’t safe to talk about their pain without extreme ridicule, how can we fare any better?

It's ironic.

The western world has had an ongoing love affair with princess stories and royal engagements. That’s why Disney, Netflix, and the rest of the entertainment industry keeps selling us princess tales.

In one way, though, the tide has been shifting. Just a tad. When it comes to our royal fantasies, we now want our fictitious princesses to be a little bit rebellious so they can fight for their rights.

Over the years, we’ve gotten behind Elsa who doesn’t need a man to be happy. We supported Merida for wanting to do her own thing. When Princess Jasmine came to life in 2019, she assured us she wouldn’t go “Speechless.”

Even Moana bucked convention and fought against her father’s expectations of her as a princess.

All in all, I have to say that this trend is a good thing. Since the western world is already so obsessed with princess stories and fairytales, let’s tell stories that are actually worth telling. Let’s make our princesses strong and brave.

If our fictional princesses are finally allowed to exercise more freedom, what about real-world royalty? To be fair, I’m not one of those people who’s ever been too interested in the British monarchy. I’m not especially keen on protecting their traditions, because I don’t really see the point. This is real life and not some fairy tale. The truth is that no one can help where or to whom they were born.

And while royals like Prince William and Harry have been financially fortunate, I wouldn’t exactly call them lucky in life.

To live with the whole world watching isn’t any sort of luck. Their lives have been filled with enormous pressure and ridiculous expectations from the start. And for years, Harry lashed out in sweeping stereotypes as the second-born, troubled, and constantly partying prince.

Both princes have lived in the shadow of their mother’s high-profile death. They’ve had to deal with rumors and theories of murder or even espionage.

And now their wives have to live in the shadow of Diana too. Something I find so very strange when folks criticize Meghan Markle. People frequently and unfavorably compare her to Diana. As if Meghan will never be the royal she was.

But part of what made Diana so famous was her unwillingness to keep protocol and tradition above everything else. In fact, the public was not always such a fan of Diana, who frequently made headlines for not doing things the “right” way. Nevertheless, it seems that Diana ultimately did win over many hearts for her role in our coveted princess fantasy. And as time passed, her willingness to rebel rather endeared her to much of the world.

Yet, here we are, lapping up gossip about Meghan Markle as if Diana taught us nothing, and as if we don’t want our princesses to “misbehave.”

I am routinely flabbergasted by headlines about Meghan which paint her as some sort of master manipulator who’s number one goal was to “steal” Harry away. Away from what or whom?

Away from the royals who have a very specific agenda to uphold their line of privilege and never rock the boat? Are we really so insistent on our notion of happily ever after within some palace’s walls that we can’t envision Harry being happy with a slightly more stripped down life?

I keep wondering what it is that Meghan Markle owes anyone aside from her husband and child.

If she was a Disney princess, we’d have no problem saying, “Girl! You do you.” Instead, people are worried about her supposed disrespect for the station. Or, god forbid, disrespect to the queen.

Meghan’s own father has accused her of cheapening the royal family by saying,

“It’s disappointing because she actually got every girl’s dream. Every young girl wants to become a princess and she got that and now she’s tossing that away, for, it looks like she’s tossing that away for money.”

Don’t you just love it when your estranged father publicly blasts you to say you’ve failed to fulfill your responsibilities to, um, the British monarchy? An institution literally steeped in inequity, classism, and wealth.

He went onto call Harry and his daughter “lost souls,” and I thought wow. Thomas Markle plays every bit of the bad Disney villain, but folks are in an uproar at Meghan for somehow turning Harry’s head.

And by the way, what sort of father criticizes his kid for failing the monarchy as if the monarchy itself doesn’t pose a serious threat to one’s health and sanity?

A crappy dad, that’s who.

Were this a Disney princess movie or even another installment of Netflix’s The Christmas Prince, folks wouldn’t be in such an uproar against the American “commoner” who married a British prince.

Instead, they’d be on her side as she decides to live her life her way. But this is real life, where people actually tweet that baby Archie isn’t just Meghan and Harry’s baby, but Britain’s baby.

Random criticisms on Twitter aren't such a big deal though, right? Maybe not, except that the data shows Meghan Markle gets twice as much bad press as William's wife Kate Middleton.

“According to analysis conducted by The Guardian, 43 percent of articles written about Meghan Markle between May 2018 and mid-January 2019 were negative in tone.
Out of 843 articles about Meghan published in 14 newspapers, just 20 percent were found to be positive, while the remaining 36 per cent were neutral.

So, why don’t people like Meghan Markle? Here’s the main list of “reasons” I see online:

  • They say she wasn’t a great actress
  • They insist she married Harry for money or fame
  • They claim she isn’t nice to her own family
  • They complain she doesn’t respect the monarchy
  • They accuse her of manipulating Harry

None of these opinions are factual. Frankly, I haven’t found a single good reason for folks to hate Meghan Markle as much as they do. Whether or not she was a good actress has nothing to do with her character as a person.

And as for all of the drama with her family, I haven’t found anything she’s said that I wouldn’t say to a toxic family member myself. Meghan has a right to distance herself from toxic family members, and when I look at their criticism against her, that’s all I see. And frankly, it’s familiar. It’s the same trashy behavior we’ve seen from the parents of Hollywood stars who want to get their hands on some of their children’s money or fame.

There is so little evidence for any of the claims of abuse against Harry that in order to actually sell it, folks have to completely ignore the fact that the British monarchy is its own sort of cult that pretty much crushed their darling Diana with scrutiny and unbearable expectations.

To paint Meghan as an abusive wife and Harry as the poor bloke who can’t get away from her manipulation requires us to paint over the monarchy with a magnanimous brush that has never existed. It relies upon rumors and hearsay with no shred of proof. It also discredits Harry by suggesting he's too stupid to see he's being played.

Finally, to paint Meghan Markle as a villain, we’ve got to throw out every bit of progress we’ve made in Disney princess movies that say women have the right to steer the course of their own lives.

It’s uncomfortable, but I can only see two real reasons why people don’t like Meghan Markle: racism and an unhealthy fixation with British royalty, which despite having its queen, is still all about patriarchy.

As far as any of us know, Meghan hasn’t done anything wong. She has tried to live her life under scrutiny as a new wife and mother.

But it seems our criticisms of her won’t stop because there’s just something about her that people can’t put their fingers on.

Hint: when you can’t really put a finger on what you don’t like about a high-profile black woman, it’s usually racism. Sometimes, misogyny.

Though considering how much the world forgave Diana for being the original royal rebel, it looks like racism is the most likely culprit here.

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Single mama, full-time writer, ex-vangelical. It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. I cover real-life issues, like family, parenting, relationships, and spiritual abuse.

Cleveland, TN
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