Illustrations by Megan Le Brocq
Meghan Markle has become like Marmite: you either love or hate her. She is either the anti-British hypocrite, or the “woke” princess; hunted by the press, or hungry for attention. Well, for me, like my inability to pick a side in the Marmite debate (rather instead feeling that it is a perfectly adequate substitute for jam or honey), I am equally indifferent to Meghan Markle. I recognise that the press has been particularly critical of her, though I do also feel like she has sought after increased press coverage – all being under only her own terms.
The “Meghan and Harry” issue has become yet another modern debate lacking nuance and instead split into a strict dichotomy between “good” and “evil”. If you don’t like Meghan, you must hate her; if you don’t hate her, you must love her. This is the weird thing about these debates. Staunch republicans have “come out” in favour of Meghan and Harry; because the “right-wingers” hate her, the left must love her. We are talking about Harry – the guy who dressed up as a Nazi, pretty woke.
I can see why people began to get annoyed by Harry and Meghan, they epitomise – as Ricky Gervais put it in his 2020 Golden Globes speech – the preachy celebrities who advocate one thing, but do not follow it themselves. This was particularly evident when they presented themselves as climate change activists, but then flew on a private jet which produces ten times the amount of carbon per passenger compared to a commercial flight.
But hypocrisy, alongside lack of nuance in debates, has become a regular occurrence in modern politics. People across the left and the right have become so polarised; they support or condemn actions dependent on which political side they are on, but not the action itself.
For instance, Meghan has recently been accused of bullying members of staff when she joined the royal family. Two of her personal assistants quit while working for her, the first having been already in the palace before she came – leaving just six months after the wedding. Meghan has denied these accusations vehemently. Harry, meanwhile, has allegedly put this down to “cultural differences”. There is no concrete evidence either side at the moment, but it is the reaction to these instances which I object to. When Priti Patel was accused of bullying, there was, rightly so, outrage when Boris Johnson protected her. So, why is it that when Priti Patel was accused of bullying, the left accepted it and denounced her being protected, but when Meghan Markle is accused of bullying, they brush over it, or argue that she is the victim. She indeed might be, but why not assume Priti Patel is a victim too?
Joe Biden has similarly demonstrated hypocrisy through his recent Syrian airstrike, particularly given he called Trump’s actions in Syria ‘erratic’ and ‘impulsive’. Similarly, in a tweet by Kamala Harris which has recently resurfaced, she said she was ‘deeply concerned’ about Trump’s airstrikes in 2018. She has so far been silent on Biden’s moves.
Why do we criticise an action done by the “wrong” person, but support something else just because this person happens to be the “right” one? Why are we so afraid to be critical of those on our side? Why do we shift our values depending on our political alliances? These fixed and rigid political boundaries are in danger of cementing us as hypocrites, favouring people over policies, words over actions, and accepting over questioning.