Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary series continued to set the record straight. For years, large swathes of the British media have formed their own stance on what led to the couple stepping down as senior royals and moving to the United States. Coined ‘Megxit’, the couple’s decision to live a more independent life was instantly cast as solely the work of Meghan. In this version of events, Prince Harry had been heavily armed to leave behind his family and a lifestyle he loved by his “controlling” American wife. Because it couldn’t be of her own free will.
Harry and Meghan, which just ended on Netflix, tells a different story. In episode six – which is streaming now – we see Harry happy aboard his “freedom flight” to California. With a broad grin on his face, that’s not quite the expression of a man unsure of his choice. While the mistreatment of Meghan by the British press may have been the latest push for his decision, Harry has long felt unhappy with his position. Archive footage shows that even as a child he was bewildered by the presence of paparazzi during holidays and family celebrations, and by the fact that due to his birth his life was constantly made available to the public. .
Of course, this urge to attribute a man’s actions to a woman is a standard example of misogyny. Harry knows that too. “How predictable the wife is to blame for a couple’s decision,” he notes in the series. “Actually, it was my decision. She never asked to leave. I had to see it for myself, but that’s misogyny at its best. Placing Meghan, a mixed-race woman , as the architect of their departure, the ‘Megxit’ narrative also served to regurgitate the racist trope of black women being aggressive and overly forceful It also shed light on how the general public holds the royal family uncritically .
Many Sussex critics would find it hard to imagine that someone so steeped in royalty would want a life outside of it. Unless, that is, some outside force convinced him. To accept that Harry has made the decision to leave is to accept that the royal family is not the harmless and harmonious symbol of British civility that we have always been told. This is something a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge.
Race is a frustrating thing to try to discuss in the UK at the best of times. Those who point out the systemic biases that affect millions of people are often accused of being overly sensitive or being snowflakes with chips on their shoulders. But when brought up in the context of the royal family, the brick wall of ignorance is even higher.
The uncomfortable truth is that the wealth inherited from the Royal Family today is a direct result of the actions of the British Empire. Through violence and subjugation that lasted over 400 years, Britain invaded and brutally destabilized other countries – the majority of which are home to blacks and browns. Although nations that suffered under British invasion and rule are still recovering from the effects today, there is little evidence that modern Britain adequately recognizes this.
Britain is a country that fails to own the historic atrocities it spearheads, so it’s no surprise that it continues to stick its head in the sand at the mere suggestion of racial prejudice in modern life. You need look no further than last month for an example. After Ngozi Fulani, the CEO of domestic violence charity Sistah Space, spoke of a racist encounter at Buckingham Palace with Prince William’s godmother Lady Susan Hussey – who has since resigned from her honorary post as lady-in-waiting to the Royal Household and offered her a ‘deep apology’ – the charity was forced to suspend operations due to the amount of abuse it had received.
It’s much easier to see Harry’s rejection of the royal machine as Meghan’s handiwork than to correctly grasp the wickedness that exists at its root. Kingship is built on the idea of inherent supremacy. This is not a place where Meghan could have stayed.
It remains to be seen how much longer people choose to ignore the problems of a fundamentally exclusive institution that rules British society. But when one of its main branches willfully separates, it’s a stark indication that the Royal Family deserves much closer scrutiny – even if what’s uncovered makes for painful reading.