For me, someone who is Punjabi-Irish, it comes as no surprise the claims made in the interview show British colonizer-style racism.
On Sunday, March 7, CBS released an Oprah interview that sent shock through social media influencers and people who keep up with the British royal family. Meghan Markle had a completely raw interview with Oprah, where she had no idea the questions being asked. The interview was later joined by Harry, Duke of Sussex.
Throughout the interview, Oprah made sure to center the specific reasons why Markle and Harry stepped back from being working members of the royal family. The reasons included harassment from the tabloids, racism towards Markle and their son Archie, lack of protection from the monarchy and Markle’s mental health.
For me, someone who is Punjabi-Irish, it comes as no surprise the claims made in the interview show British colonizer-style racism. This racism should come as no surprise to anyone else either, considering the history of British colonization.
Now for the purposes of this article, I will be referring to Harry as Harry or the Duke of Sussex, because he has left the royal family and does not wish to use the Mountbatten-Windsor last name, preferring Harry.
It’s obvious the kinds of harassment Harry witnessed his mother, Princess Diana, went through. In the interview, he said he kind of prepared himself for that but the race component was a completely new adjustment.
The racism surrounding Markle was directed by both the tabloids as well as people within the monarchy. When she was pregnant, people were concerned with how the baby would look like. Compared to Kate Middleton, she got harassed for doing the exact same things Middleton did during her pregnancy. There is an inherent race component in the British tabloids that was addressed in the interview, and members of the monarchy play into the tabloids to keep their social status.
In response to the harassment and racism, the monarchy essentially said they could do nothing to protect them. Not dumbfounding at all when considering how members of the monarchy itself were and are racist themselves, even toward Markle. Due to racist understandings, both Markle and their son Archie were denied protection and official titles by the monarchy.
I have heritage on both sides of my family that experienced British colonization and the monarchy’s engagement with different social institutions. For example, my Punjabi side experienced a race-based oppression throughout colonization and my Irish side experienced class-based oppression.
With the history of classism and racism as strong proponents of British colonization, Markle’s relationship with Harry has highlighted those structures as still being present in the monarchy. Markle is a commoner and a person of color. British domination of the world depended on engaging in classism and racism, amplifying those structures with hard power (colonization). Colonization is what made the monarchy powerful, so it is in no way surprising or unforeseen that Markle would experience these issues with the monarchy.
Anyone can expect that Markle being surrounded by these structures would experience a massive deterioration in mental health. With no protection and an extremely controlled lifestyle, Markle experienced depression and suicidal thoughts. No one outside of her close friends and family asked if she was okay. Her ability to see those that she loved was limited, and she was put under more pressure because of her race and class.
After hitting her lowest point mentally, she was not allowed to seek professional help for the fear of how it would look on the royal family. The royal family will only care about their image and nothing more. Not surprising again, considering they gave no protection and abandoned Princess Diana.
When Oprah seemed so flabbergasted throughout the interview, it made me question if she did it for sensational value or if she was genuinely surprised how blatant the negative treatment by the monarchy was.
For me, none of this offered a surprising effect. My Punjabi side experienced massive amounts of racism being in England. Racism was built into the nation because colonization engrained it into the British population. England has their post-colonial issues to go through, and Markle’s struggle with the monarchy shows their strong attachment to colonialism.