“Meghan Markle’s Image, Battered in Britain’s Tabloids, Thrives in U.S.” That’s the headline on this piece in the New York Times, by Ryan Lizza, a senior national correspondent. And I’m no different from most people who don’t have three stars on their chest and stand before tons of bouquets.
This was the key element of Lizza’s article: “Since the royal wedding, Ms. Markle’s privacy has been guarded harder by the media than her fiance, Prince Harry. That has helped her surpass Kate Middleton, the princess formerly known as William’s wife, among American media; Ms. Markle has become a more powerful public personality in the U.S. than Ms. Middleton was.”
From there, and in a subtle message, Lizza argues that Meghan “is a newer breed of celebrity who doesn’t play by the rules.” She arrived in the public eye from a different, hipper type of show biz than Kate, who went from glossy magazines to cheesy reality TV (remember “Diana: In Her Own Words?”). Meghan tweeted in 2015. She has shown more of her personal side than Kate (and did Kate take issue with all the fluff? When the royal family snubbed Meghan’s father for this wedding, did Kate not give her the same kind of frowning eye, or the rolling of her eyes? No doubt she was annoyed – and the British tabloids had a field day).
From Lizza’s piece:
In 2015, when Meghan was still an actress, Vanity Fair had a cover story that amounted to a brief cover story about her, with several lengthy captions. It included a description of “Meghan Markle: Suits character, social worker, struggling actress” (words like “struggling” and “social worker” are almost certainly buzzwords you’ve heard) and “Meghan Markle: Does the future royal have a future?” Meghan also has a history of activism, particularly with women’s issues, including her advocacy for women’s rights around the world.
With two famous parents, Prince Harry and American actress, Meghan Markle, who met and fell in love with Prince Harry while making a deal for a television show, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have the distinct advantage of being part of a global brand and brand-identity that transcends nationality, nationality, and royal allegiance. In the United States, Meghan Markle is simply a stunning woman, a force of nature – a celebrity who has attracted intense interest to the Royal Family and who is, in her own words, “a normal girl from a normal family.”
The point of Lizza’s piece, a tight report on whether Meghan Markle is a “blank slate” – as she calls herself in one interview – is not about her future marriage to Prince Harry. It’s about Meghan’s past. Is her first name essentially Markle in English or North American or both? But a lot more can be gleaned from these interview with Meghan than from Harry’s telling Newsnight interviewer that his royal career is not a burden or a burden on Meghan.
In other words, yes, there are universal lessons in the monarchy for Markle – like how to avoid insulting a princess and how to be a good role model, which she seems to possess. But is that Meghan’s biggest political engagement?
Perhaps most important, Lizza means the same thing (chuckle) that those who are connected to the monarchy would – that the monarchy will suffer without Harry, and in fact, are grateful that the press aren’t reporting much on the future prince. By (un)constitutional necessity, and in a beautifully controlled tone, Ryan Lizza has the upper hand. But it’s worth reading the entire piece. We could learn a few things, too.