THE BLOG

As Prince Harry Shines, Meghan Markle Sinks Into His Shadow

How ironic that Markle, who fought for the empowerment of women, felt she had to wipe the slate clean of her achievements in order to marry a Prince

04/01/2018 16:04 GMT | Updated 07/01/2018 15:31 GMT

While Prince Harry guest edited BBC Radio 4′s Today programme and spoke about issues close to his heart, the voice of his fiancée Meghan Markle has gradually fallen silent.

“Part of my job is to shine a spotlight on issues that need that spotlight,” Harry told the BBC, after using the programme to touch on youth crime, the armed forces and mental health. Harry also interviewed his “Pa” the Prince of Wales about climate change, and Barack Obama about his time in the White House. “These are incredibly important topics we all need to think about,” said the Prince, asking the former President “Boxers or briefs?”. 

Harry did not, however, give his fiancée Meghan any airtime to discuss issues such as race, gender equality and clean drinking water about which, until recently, she has been extremely vociferous and proactive.

Image: Genevieve/Flickr CC BY 2.0
Meghan Markle at a 'Suits' panel 2013

Before becoming engaged to Prince Harry, philanthropist and activist Markle had a successful acting career, edited a lifestyle blog and held high profile charitable roles. But little by little, her career and causes have been quietly stripped away in preparation for her new role as a Royal wife.

In November it was announced that Meghan will not return to the hit US drama Suits, where she played paralegal-turned-lawyer Rachel Zane for seven series. Her lifestyle blog, The Tig, of which she was Editor-in-Chief, closed down in April without explanation. Its archive of content, a subtle mix of lifestyle features peppered with “social consciousness and subjects of higher value than selfies” is no longer accessible, presumably lest anyone should read Meghan’s uncensored opinions and find them improper for a member of the Royal family. 

The official Meghan Markle Instagram account became dormant at the same time (the comments section now filled with vile racist abuse) and her Twitter account has been quiet since March, the last post linking to her Time magazine article on the stigma of menstruation.

Perhaps Markle’s biggest sacrifice has been the relinquishing of her position as advocate for the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, a role which she relished: “When I gave a speech for International Women’s Day, and Ban Ki-moon led the standing ovation, I thought, ‘This right here is the point.’” She has also ceased to be a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, the charity with whom she campaigned for clean drinking water and who described her as a “true humanitarian”.

According to Harry’s communications secretary, Jason Knauf, dropping her charitable commitments was Meghan’s decision. “She wants to start with a clean slate and focus on the UK,” he explained. “So the only the role that she will begin with is as patron of the Royal Foundation.”

How ironic that Markle, who fought for the empowerment of women, felt she had to wipe the slate clean of her achievements in order to marry a Prince.

Meghan is a woman with a fierce conscience and a huge heart. She once turned down an invitation to the Baftas, as it would have meant flying straight from her UN work in from Rwanda, to a glitzy London awards ceremony. “No,′ my heart said. And it wasn’t a soft whisper; it was a lion’s roar,” she wrote. Markle is passionate about feminism, a cause for which she has been fighting since age 11, when she successfully enlisted Hillary Clinton and Gloria Allred to help change the wording of a sexist advert on TV. In the past she has shared her opinions on Donald Trump and Brexit, and says she grew up as “a young adult with a social consciousness to do what I could and speak up when I knew something was wrong.” It’s hard to imagine how she can bear to give up her freedom of speech; to toe the apolitical Royal line, her every word carefully filtered through the Palace PR machine. 

“With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings,” Meghan wrote in Elle before her engagement. Prince Harry is perhaps the most human and likeable of the royals and there is no doubt he and his fiancée are deeply in love. It’s also clear that Markle is a determined young woman, who has both the conscience and intelligence to use her new Royal status as a powerful force for good. But can this Cinderella can live happily ever after in her gilded cage? That’s another story.