On the area, Meghan Markle and Prince Andrew couldn’t have less in common. One got married in the Royal family and the other never knew a life apart from her. Meghan has spent decades forging her own path and identity. Andrew, on the other hand, had his path mapped out for him from birth, and as the Queen’s second son, an established public identity that he always knew he would be bound to fulfill. They do, however, have one major similarity: they are, according to a recent survey, the two least popular members of the House of Windsor. This lack of popularity in itself is enough for many to draw comparisons between the two. In reality, they couldn’t be more different.
During her tenure as an active royal, Meghan has most often been directly compared to the Duchess of Cambridge. She even commented on how this stream of comparisons made her feel during her much-discussed interview with Oprah in 2021. The Duchess of Sussex said after seeing respective headlines about the two women doing essentially the same things, cradling their baby bumps and eating avocados: ‘I can see now what layers were in play there, and again , they really seem to want a tale of a hero and a villain. Since stepping back from senior royal lifethis feeling that Meghan is portrayed as a villain has only taken root.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to speak publicly with Oprah about their experiences as royals is perhaps the only tangible thing they share with Prince Andrew, who has embarked on his own. high profile TV interview with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in 2019. Meghan’s admission of serious mental health issues and her allegations of lack of support from the Palace sparked much discussion that continues to this day. From those who immediately sympathized with her, on the other end of the spectrum who ridiculed her for daring to be both wealthy and mentally challenged, it proved that she was nothing if not a divisive figure.
That Meghan and Andrew are determined to push their own version of the stories isn’t enough to cast them in the same role, however. Meghan’s attempt to speak her truth seemed based on a sort of desperation to be understood, to redirect the narratives swirling around her. Some of them were relatively benign things that had been misinterpreted. For example, two step sisters having minor spat in high pressure wedding prep is not exactly unusual.
In contrast, the charges surrounding Andrew were the subject of a civil case. Virginia Giuffre accused him of sexually assaulting her three times. The veracity of these claims has never been determined by a court, and Prince Andrew has vehemently and consistently denied them. He reached a multi-million pound out-of-court settlement with Giuffre in February and, with him, released a statement which read: ‘Prince Andrew never intended to slander Mrs Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she suffered both as an abused workbench and as a result of unjust public attacks. Jeffrey Epstein is known to have trafficked countless young girls over the years. Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein and salutes the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors.
However, many members of the public could not understand his decision to pay Giuffre such a large settlement, when he had previously insisted on wanting his day in court. As royal commentator Omid Scobie wrote for The Independent“Didn’t he want to take advantage of this moment to fight for his innocence? One last chance to prove that he hadn’t done the heinous things he was accused of? I know that if I faced at the same predicament, I would. This seems to be a sticking point for a lot of people. Whatever Andrew’s reasons were, the settlement left a stink.
To many, it looked like a hodgepodge attempt to prevent this already massive public relations disaster for the Royal Family from spiraling even further out of control. Despite the acknowledgments in his statement, it further reinforced a more general feeling that there was a lack of real responsibility: with vast wealth, power and privilege at your fingertips, it seems easy to get by.
Before the jubilee, it was clear that the public mood is still firmly against Andrew. A song called “Prince Andrew is a Sweaty N*nce” began to climb the charts, and there was immediate backlash when the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested the public be more “open and forgiving” and “back off a little”. [Andrew] seeks to make amends. The Archbishop and Prince Andrew reportedly appeared at the Thanksgiving service if they hadn’t tested positive for coronavirus. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise for the royal family. In this context, Andrew’s appearance could certainly have spoiled what turned out to be a great event.
Meghan’s appearance over the Platinum Jubilee weekend proved that it certainly still arouses strong opinions. There’s a large portion of the public that seems determined not to like it. However, those who feel supportive of her are more than ready to speak up for her in the face of the barrage of criticism she receives. Meghan seemed, like everyone else at the Thanksgiving service, delighted to be there and to have the opportunity to celebrate the Queen. The Sussexes may have played a smaller role in the proceedings than they once would have, but they were always made clear that they were important guests and at the heart of the action.
That Meghan ranks second to Andrew in popularity polls is somewhat shocking. While Andrew certainly regrets his association with Epstein, it was misguided at best and shows a serious lack of judgment. Meghan, on the other hand, only had the audacity to be herself and take the necessary steps to protect her sanity. She may have disrupted things, but the controversy over her seems unwarranted. When compared directly to the seriousness of the charges against Andrew, it’s hard not to be cynical: the only real threat she posed was that of the alleged tradition of whiteness.
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