Since the news of Prince Harry dating biracial American actress Meghan Markle was confirmed last week, a wave of abuse has been unleashed by British media outlets; proving that misogynoir is very much alive and well.
A statement released by Kensington Palace on Tuesday on behalf of the prince reads that in the past week a line has been crossed. It further goes on to discuss “the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls”. This acknowledgment of misogynoir was not only shocking to hear from a member of the monarchy, who have historically constructed colonialism and rarely discussed issues involving racism and sexism, but also refreshing.
Undoubtedly anyone who has a public relationship with a member of the royal family will be under high scrutiny, especially in country where the queen is so loved and cherished, (in 2012 it was found that three-quarters of the population want Britain to remain a monarchy), but as the statement illustrated, there are plenty of intersectional pressures for women of colour living in the public eye that mean our fate might be worse than for Chelsy Davy-types, who have plenty of Daddy’s money to keep the paps at bay.
According to the press, there is no space for Markle to be Britain’s sweetheart as she is merely diminished as “the divorcee” with “thick, exotic blood”; her merit and identity stripped away with the tired trope of women being tarnished goods once they end a marriage, and certainly not fit for a prince.
Markle is an actor known for her role in the hit US drama Suits. She’s also a global ambassador for World Vision Canada (she lives in Toronto), she graduated with a communications degree from Northwestern University in Illinois. She has also worked alongside the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Like most black women I root for other black women wherever I see them, whether it’s the Olympics or Great British Bake Off it’s nice to see women of colour succeeding, especially in areas where representation is important.
So whilst there is a backlash seeped in racist and sexist undertones from the media, simultaneously there are a number of black women around the world rejoicing about Prince Harry being down with “the swirl”. I myself must say I was happily surprised to see that Prince Harry’s new beau was a woman of colour. While she is of mixed-heritage and perhaps a more palatable face of blackness, in a world where Eurocentric aesthetics are at the forefront of beauty standards it’s nice to see one of the world’s most “eligible bachelors” with a black woman.
I’m so far detached from the monarchy that to me the worlds of kings and queens do just feel like fairytales that I couldn’t be apart of. Maybe Markle could be the Brandy Cinderella of our dreams and prove to women of colour that being a British princess is also now a possibility (if that’s what you want from life).
But at the moment it feels like Prince Harry is being glorified for being in an interracial relationship. The reaction to his new relationship status seems to only continue to perpetrate the new trend of fetishism around white men and black women. From YouTube to Tumblr, being down with the swirl has become a trending topic.
Prince Harry doesn’t deserve a badge or a biscuit for dating a woman of colour. It is nothing but damaging to put white men on a pedestal for finding non white people attractive whilst simultaneously their partners are attacked for their blackness. Much like Robert Pattinson, who was praised for dating FKA Twigs while she received merciless racism, there is a problem when we find ourselves in an age where white men are championed for thinking outside the Eurocentric box. It is Markle who must face daily harassment, endure constant defamation by the press, and her whose love life is scrutinised with microscopic precision.