As public figures, both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are targets for criticism. But there’s a big difference in the way the British media covers the two duchesses, which Markle talked about in her March 7 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The Duchess of Sussex told Winfrey race and social media have made dealing with the “toxic environment” of the British press different for her than other royals.
“Unfortunately, if members of his family say, ‘Well this is what’s happened to all of us,’ if they can compare the experience that I went through…Kate was called ‘Waity Katie’ waiting to marry William,” Markle said. “While I imagine that was really hard, and I do, I can’t picture what that felt like, this is not the same. And if a member of his family will comfortably say, ‘We’ve all had to deal with things that are rude,’ rude and racist are not the same.”
To be clear, this isn’t any criticism of Kate Middleton as a person, or of her in particular. The point is that Black women and white women are, in general, treated differently for doing the same thing. Or as Meghan Markle put it, “It was all happening just because I was breathing.”
Another anecdote from the interview that had viewers outraged was the couple revealing a member of the royal family, whom they wouldn’t name, expressed concern over the skin tone of her then-unborn son Archie. “In those months when I was pregnant…[there were] concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born,” Markle told Winfrey, who was visibly shocked.
The day after the interview aired, Winfrey appeared on CBS This Morning to clarify this person was neither Queen Elizabeth nor her husband, Prince Philip.
And in case anyone is unclear, the skin tone conversation isn’t just rude: It’s racist.