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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex officially became a member of the royal family on May 19, 2018, when she walked (herself) down the aisle toward blushing groom Prince Harry. Less than two years later, Meghan and Harry have exited the royal family and started a new life split between North America and the UK, citing a desire for their son Archie to grow up without the same scrutiny and criticism Meghan faced as a royal. And while her time as a royal was filled with joys and successes like the birth of baby Archie and expansions of her philanthropy work, those highlights were often overshadowed by the barrage of commentary from the outside world.
Meghan herself has admitted that joining the royal family was one of the hardest years of her life. She had to swallow her pride and words as her estranged family soiled her name in the press. She shouldered the brunt of the blame for an alleged rift between Prince William and Prince Harry. She had her name attached to an alleged cheating scandal by Prince William. And she’s had to stay mostly silent as the British press and public pummeled her — and even her baby — with racist and sexist messages.
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When you stop and think about the incessant abuse, it’s a miracle Meghan didn’t leave the family sooner. The scandals from Meghan’s royal tenure can be divided into three categories — family, tabloid or public — with each one outdoing the last in terms of hate for and bullying of our dear Duchess.
Ahead, the most shocking and ridiculous storms Meghan has had to weather since she tied the knot to Harry.
May 2018 — That time she was accused of not curtsying to the Queen.
That wedding band was fresh on her ring finger when Meghan was accused of not curtseying for the Queen at her own wedding. Eagle-eyed fans had to scan the video of the moment to defend the new duchess. Girlfriend definitely curtseyed.
June 2018 — That time her father revealed what Harry thought of Donald Trump.
In one of his many interviews with the press, Thomas Markle revealed the details of a private phone conversation with Prince Harry. Of the details he dropped, he also mentioned that Harry said Markle should give Trump a chance. That may be nothing to you and me, but protocol dictates that royals don’t comment on heads of state.
June 2018 — That time her father criticized Queen Elizabeth II.
Speaking with TMZ, Markle questioned why the Queen had not met with him yet, saying, “If the Queen is willing to meet our arrogant and insensitive president she has no excuse not to meet me. I’m nowhere near as bad.”
July 2018 — That time her sister admitted she was being paid for press.
We’ll let Samantha Markle’s words speak for herself in this one: “I worked in media most of my life and in broadcasting, so because my sister is suddenly royal isn’t grounds for me to stop doing all of that. Let’s face it — we all have to survive. Money makes the world go round, so if you want to call that cashing in, that’s fine, but I think no one in media would refuse a paycheck for talking about the royal and, as a family, we’re not subject to royal protocol. Why would I stop living because we have a family issue going on?”
October 2018 — That time with Princess Eugenie’s Wedding.
Days before Meghan and Harry jetted off on their 16-day royal tour of Australia, they notified Queen Elizabeth II that they were expecting a baby. The problem, for some critics, is that they told the monarch at another royal event: Princess Eugenie’s October 12 wedding. Haters turned on Meghan for reportedly taking all the attention away from the bride.
October 2018 — That time her sister parked herself outside of Buckingham Palace.
When interviews across the Atlantic just wouldn’t do it, Samantha Markle made the trip across the pond and showed up at Buckingham Palace in the hopes of “reconnecting” with Meghan. Funny, since Meghan and Harry actually lived a few miles down the road at Kensington Palace. To make sure everyone knew she was in town, Markle went on Channel 5 Monday, where she was grilled about her motives.
“I’ve always wanted to see London, but really I wanted to make the trip and sort of speak the wishes and thoughts and sentiments of my father, and hopefully get a message to my sister,” Markle said. “Things aren’t really what they seem. There’s so much misperception. Hopefully we could clear up record and move forward with peaceful resolve.”
November 2018 — That time she “feuded” with Kate Middleton.
When news of Harry and Meghan’s move out of Kensington Palace to strike out on their own first broke in November of 2018, the public and the press came to a unanimous conclusion as to why that would be: Meghan. Everyone pointed the fingers at the new royal, suggesting her alleged “Difficult Duchess” attitude was not just reserved for the staff, and had caused a feud between her and Kate. Obviously, all that turned out to be untrue. The Sussexes were expecting a baby and wanted more space than the two-bedroom apartment they lived in at Kensington Palace.
December 2018 — That time Prince William totally hated Meghan.
As rumors of tension between the Cambridges and Sussexes grew, so did a rumor that Prince William never approved of Harry’s choice for a bride, causing tension and a falling out between the otherwise close-knit brothers. This rumor had a life of its own and had many iterations for the reasons and causes during the holiday season and into 2019.
January 2019 — All those times she was grilled for cradling her pregnant belly.
Can we all agree that sometimes the internet is just a hot dumpster fire? Okay, now that that’s out of the way — people spent months criticizing Meghan for how, how often and when she touched her pregnant belly. We’re not going to expand further on this because it’s truly vile and unwarranted criticism that unfortunately, came from women as much as it did from men.
March 2019 — That time a fourth Sussex staff member quit.
When yet another one of Meghan and Harry’s aides decided to part ways with couple, the news media spun the news as: the Difficult Duchess strikes again!
April 2019 — That time truthers said she was faking her pregnancy.
As so often happens with famous women, fans and trolls alike feel treat a celebrity’s body as if it’s their own. So when Meghan’s pregnancy began to be more noticeable, a conspiracy theory that she was using a prosthetic belly gained traction online. Truthers used hashtags like #Moonbump and #Megxit as a bat signal of sorts to spread the completely unfounded theory that Meghan and Harry were using a surrogate and hiding the whole thing from the public.
April 2019 — That time royal reporters and British tabloids turned on Meghan and Harry.
When @SussexRoyal, the couple’s official instagram account, announced they were eschewing tradition for a more private royal birth, the British press straight up turned on them, demanding the right to see their newborn. The Sun published a letter criticizing the expectant parents: “The public has a right to know about the lives of those largely funded by their taxes. You can accept that or be private citizens. Not both.”
May 2019 – That time Meghan refused to pose (in heels!) with her newborn baby.
For absolutely no good reason that I can think of, it’s long been royal family tradition to pose with one’s newborn child on the steps of St. Mary’s Hospital mere hours after giving birth. Princess Diana did it. Kate Middleton did it. And Meghan Markle gave it a big old “no thank you.” She planned a photoshoot and released photos on her own schedule — so obviously, the public fell all over themselves accusing her of being a diva and telling her they had a “right as taxpayers” to see her baby.
May 2019 — That time Harry “let slip” that Archie was secretly two weeks old.
Buckle up, because this one’s crazy. In his first interview since Archie’s birth, Harry makes this comment when asked who the baby most resembles: “Everyone says that babies change so much over two weeks, so we’re sort of monitoring how this changing process happens over this next month really. But his looks are changing every single day so who knows.”
Not much to see here, right? Wrong! The internet decided that Harry, sleep-deprived and weary, had accidentally let slip that Archie had been born a full two weeks prior, thus depriving the public of even more precious Archie time.
June 2019 — That time they broke tradition with Archie’s christening.
When it came to Archie, this couple did pretty much whatever they wanted — as they should have. While christenings were typically publicly documented events, they insisted on a private ceremony for their baby boy.
June 2019 — That time Meghan was shamed for having too nice a baby shower.
As it turns out, baby showers aren’t a big British tradition (the one tradition they don’t like, I guess). So when Meghan had a baby shower thrown by friends like Serena Williams, the press was immediately on her back about how “lavish” the event was and how expensive her travel was for the event. That travel? A private jet sent over by Amal Clooney, and 100% free.
July 2019 — That time Meghan was called too “political” for featuring Black women in Vogue.
When Meghan was given the opportunity to guest-edit an edition of Vogue UK, she featured 15 “Forces for Change:” women whose work she admired and who she felt were creating a better future. When a preview of Meghan’s stunning Vogue cover came out, she was criticized for being fame-hungry, political, and fake. The cover was criticized as being offensive to white people and men (seriously).
August 2019 — That time everyone freaked out at Meghan and Harry for flying private.
Ugh. When Harry and Meghan took themselves on a little summer vacay to Nice, they flew on a private jet (like every other celebrity in the world). We’re not saying concerns about environmental effects are trivial — quite the opposite. But it’s suuuper telling who the media chooses to target every time they fly private, and who they don’t.
Luckily, the Duke and Duchess had plenty of celeb friends rushing to their defense, with Elton John clarifying publicly that he had sent them a private jet through a company that mandates carbon offsetting.
September 2019 — That time Meghan admitted no one was looking out for her.
Meghan Markle broke the internet (and our hearts) when she admitted in an interview while on tour that she was still really struggling to be under so much scrutiny as a new mom. “Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging. And then when you have a newborn, you know,” she told ITV’s Tom Bradby. “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay.”
Per American standards, this isn’t even close to out of line. But by royal family standards, this was a huge disclosure.
October 2019 — That time the Sussexes declared full legal war on British media outlets.
By October, Meghan and Harry had had enough. In a scathing statement, Harry announced that the couple was pressing charges against multiple British outlets for breaking into their phones, publishing their private documents, and purposely misleading readers. Harry admitted that his worst fear was history repeating itself, referring to his mother Diana’s fatal car crash on the run from paparazzi.
November 2019 — That time Meghan and Harry skipped the Queen’s Christmas plans.
By the end of 2019, the other royals must have known something was afoot when Meghan and Harry bowed out of the annual Christmas festivities, a choice that wasn’t taken lightly. Instead, they spent the holidays in Canada where they were officially “resetting as a family” and unofficially laying the groundwork for their January exit…
January 2020 — That time Meghan and Harry surprised the royal family by announcing their exit.
Harry and Meghan dropped the bomb bright and early in the new year, reportedly taking everyone — even the Queen — by surprise. “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they wrote on Instagram. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
Over the next few weeks, Harry and the royal family entered a series of negotiations about what their new life as “working royals” would look like, including paying their own security fees, achieving financial independence, and maintaining certain conduct standards out of care for the Queen’s reputation. Meghan stayed in Canada with baby Archie before a final, week-long royal tour in February, and the couple have since settled in her hometown of Los Angeles.
I’ll just say it. In less than two years, Meghan Markle turned Prince Harry from the world’s most eligible royal bachelor to a stay-at-home dad who likes long bike rides down Venice Beach. Both their families, the media, and the public came at them with everything they had. But Meghan was stronger.
Click here to see the 100 best photos of the royal family from the last 20 years.
Launch Gallery: 100 Best Photos of the Royal Family From the Past 20 Years
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