By Ellie Young
Harry and Meghan’s explosive interview with Oprah is undoubtedly an awkward discussion. To what extent should we focus on facts in discussing institutional racism and mental illness, as survivors must be believed first and foremost? But as one person’s ‘truth’ begins to be questioned, should Meghan’s Markle’s claims be allowed to tarnish something so integral to British culture as our monarchy? Both sides on this tug of war are problematic in their own way, so it is difficult to find a clear ‘winner’ in this conflict.
Regardless of factual correctness, what is most revealing about this historic interview, is how complacent we as the British public have been about the Royal Family’s response. Following the Black Lives Matter Movement, institutional racism has rightly been dominant in discourse about police forces worldwide.
Of course, the Royal Family have been condemned for the accused racism regarding the colour of Archie’s skin. Still, I worry that we have allowed them to slip through the net of determining whether our oldest institution is institutionally racist. Buckingham Palace’s statement on behalf of the Queen stated that racist allegations will be “addressed by the family privately.”
However, surely the British public, especially our BAME community, have a right to know whether those with such unfathomable privilege are racist? Other institutions accused of racism, made up of ordinary people, have been the subject of public enquiries rather than domestic “handlings”, such as the Metropolitan Police following their shambolic handling of the Stephen Lawrence case. Perhaps what this interview reveals most is the untouchable power of the monarchy that it set out to confront.
The actions of the Royal Family are actively undermining their half-hearted statement, as their actions fail to measure up to their words. Prince William certainly seemed a concerned brother, a true member of a “whole family saddened”, when he told a journalist that he was yet to reach out to his brother after learning that his sister-in-law “didn’t want to be alive anymore” while being a senior member of the Royal Family. This appears to confirm Harry’s claim that communication and financial aid from family members have been cut off.
However, the balance between truth and reality is becoming increasingly distorted as time unravels. It becomes more evident that perhaps Meghan and Harry are not the most reliable narrators. This follows the Archbishop of Canterbury’s claim that he did not marry the couple three days before the broadcasted wedding, as stated in the interview.
It is interesting that when discussing whether the interview is ‘factual’, we investigate Meghan as a reliable source, not Harry. The majority of news articles I have read refer to this as ‘Meghan’s claim’, which fails to acknowledge Harry’s input that it was ‘just the three of us.’
Therefore, while these factual elements of the couple’s ‘truth’ has rightly been questioned, the British media’s response to this actively enforces Meghan’s claims surrounding the toxic nature of the press. The villainization of Meghan reveals the sexist default of blaming women in the British media.
Even if the claims in this interview may not be entirely factually correct, the aftermath and responses following the interview in part confirm the couple’s ‘truth.’ After all, surely we should measure such human experiences such as mental illness and racism through the actions we observe, rather than institutional facts, regarding Archie’s title, for instance.
On the other hand, it is essential that in the age of ‘cancel culture’, we continue to question and do not complacently accept the information we receive. Ultimately, perhaps the aftermath of this monumental interview, rather than its content, tells us more about ‘truth’ and the problems within British society.
Image: Steve Fitch via Flickr