By Desie Heita
In case you missed it, and the chances are you did, the British media did not react well to the news – or are they still rumours – that 32-year old Prince Harry of Wales, the fifth in line to the British throne, could be dating 35-year old Meghan Markle, the actress who plays Rachel in the series ‘Suits’.
The negative publicity in the British media was not so much about the fact that Markle has no royal blood and is not British, but because Markle is black. Or so argue the horde of pan-Africanists in the diaspora, who all woke up this week to such news on their tablets and smartphones and got enraged enough to rally against this racial injustice perpetrated by the British tabloid press and mainstream media, apparently still hung-over with the colonial quest for aristocratic “pure blood”.
For the uninitiated Markle is of mixed raced parentage, as she is born of a white father and black mother. She does have a fairly light skin and straight hair. Yet, look closely at her pictures splashed all over internet, thanks to her being a Hollywood star, and one could see that her light skin is indeed that of heavily tanned light if not of light brown colour. Indeed, the woman is black.
And that, according to pan-African bloggers, who jumped to her defence, is the only thing that British media noticed and for which she is being crucified. The Daily Mail called her ‘a brunette’, while another broadsheet tabloid referred to her as ‘a glamorous brunette.’
The pro-Markle camp is livid, insulted even, that the British media could not even bring itself to call her bi-racial or point-blank black. The colour of her hair, they say, could not be the only feature to describe Markle.
“I think what they are trying to say is that Markle, actor, global development ambassador and lifestyle blogger, is black,” wrote Afua Hirsch in an opinion titled ‘Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the myth of royal purity’ in one of UK mainstream newspaper this week.
Hirsch is one of the few pan-Africanists who opted to air their criticism by publishing properly researched opinions, distinguishing themselves from Twitter and Instagram lynch mobs.
“The actor, who grew up in LA but lives in Toronto, has spoken extensively about her dual heritage – her father white and a mother she describes as “100% black” – and her quest for her identity over the years,” wrote Hirsch.
But there is more: The headlines that announced the rumoured relationship were also described as downright bigotry, prompting a polarised fury response on Twitter and Instagram.
“As a brunette, an American and a human rights campaigner, Meghan Markle is something of a departure from Prince Harry’s usual type,” is how the Daily Mail introduced the relationship. “Prince Harry’s rumoured girlfriend
Meghan Markle has starred in some fruity TV scenes,” was the headline Daily Mail went for.
The Telegraph went for the jugular, with the screaming headline: “Prince Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle would not fit in with the Royal family, her half-sister claims.”
“They have made it clear that her relationship with Harry is scandalous, for a number of reasons: she is divorced; she is older, she’s played raunchy scenes in the US TV series Suits – and her mother is visibly black, with dreadlocks,” Hirsch argues.
As though to bring home its point of unsuitability the Telegraph report went on to cite Markle’s half sister speaking about the narcissistic, selfish character of Markles, her “soft spot for gingers”, and her ambitions to succeed in life.
The readers are also told of what they are to deduce as salacious pictures she posted on social media, “including one of a pair of bananas ‘cuddling’ each other, with the caption ‘sleep tight’ and another of an elephant teapot and cup.”
“These details would be unremarkable – irrelevant, inappropriate, even – were it any other celebrity romance. But Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, is a different matter. The very concept of the royal family is the antithesis of diversity.
The terminology says it all: “blue blood”, from the Spanish sagre azul, coined in the late 1500s to distinguish between the supposed racially superior white Christian nobility (with pale skin revealing blue veins) and the Jews, Muslims and West Africans, whom Europeans were increasingly ousting from their continent, notes Hirsch.
Only at the bottom of the story did the Telegraph inform its readers that Merkle is a UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Leadership and Political Participation, runs her own lifestyle website, called The Tig, and has just launched a fashion line.
For all her faults (which we now know thanks to her estranged American half-sister, who apparently blabbed to a tabloid in London) Merkle is obviously an intelligent woman, who is heavily involved in advocacy work for women and girls around the world.
Just read this excerpts from one of her very recent speeches at a UN international event on women: “Equality means that President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, whose country I recently visited as part of my learning mission with UN Women, is equal to the little girl in the Gihembe refugee camp, who is dreaming about being a president one day.
Equality means that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is equal to the young intern at the UN, who is dreaming about shaking his hand. It means a wife is equal to her husband, a sister to her brother. Not better nor worse – they are equal.”
And in defence of Markle and Price Harry, their relationship is but a rumour that may or may not be true. The only confirmation given thus far is based on Instagram photos of bananas and a teapot, as well as some tabloid reporting that the two appear, from their Instagram postings, to have matching bead-bracelets (they are blue and white if you wondering).
“Prince Harry’s ‘secret girlfriend’ Meghan Markle drops HUGE hint at royal romance,” screamed The Mirror when it announced the Instagram picture of the teapot.
“Today [she] teased fans with a picture of that most British of pastimes – afternoon tea, perhaps practising for her first visit to the Palace,” The Sun told its readers.
“[She] posted a snap of two bananas snuggled together on her Instagram and captioned it: ‘Sleep tight xx.’,” screamed another headline after she posted two yellow bananas. For those interested, both bananas had one pale yellow colour.