Opinion: Is it time for us to stop glamorizing the royal family?


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As the recent events of Prince Harry’s visit in England and Prince William and Duchess Kate’s Caribbean Tour have transpired, it has shown that the reputation of the British monarchy has inflamed due to controversy. From refusing to disown a pedophile, to indirectly supporting bullying and encouraging imperialist tactics, romanticizing the royal family motivates this sort of behavior.

Thewedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 sent shockwaves in the pop culture world. Alast, one of the heartthrobs of the Y2K era was no longer the womanizing, charming prince the media type casted him as. He had finally found his princess; a woman that would honor his mother’s legacy. The tabloids and magazines were starstruck, as they could now glamorize the life of Duchess Kate of Cambridge and paste her fashion style everywhere. Media frenzy turned into the obsession we see today. 

Although the royal wedding in 2011 was monumental, it was not nearly as grand as the 1981 wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. It garnered over 1 billion viewers and had vendors selling royal merchandise making big bucks. Some of the merchandise included t-shirts with Princess Diana’s face plastered on them, and even slices of her wedding cake. The royal family became a global cultural staple soon afterwards, with women desiring to be the next queen of England. 

However, the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997 left a hole in the pop culture world. Her death resulted in numerous conspiracy theories alleging that Queen Elizabeth had set it up in the first place. Mainly originating from the Internet, one of the conspiracy theories casually accused Queen Elizabeth of drinking the blood of dead children from her former colonies. Although the theory is technically borderline QAnon, which has been proven numerous times from media sources to be false, many people immediately ate this up. This, as well as Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, deteriorated the reputation of the royal family. Suddenly, it was as if the death of Princess Diana opened the public up to see reality.

It wasn’t until the royal family welcomed Meghan Markle into their home in 2018 when things started rapidly changing and the viewpoints of how people examined the royal family began to turn sour. In spite of the fact that the royal family never ecstatically welcomed Meghan Markle into their home, the younger generation of Brits were overjoyed to see the first Black princess in the UK. As she was visiting a school right before she departed her royal duties in 2020, the schoolboy next to her couldn’t keep his calm. 

This historical moment came with bumps. Even before the wedding, Markle was subjected to online harassment from various blogs, as well as from the older generation of Brits despising her “liberalism”. Markle was (and still is) compared to her sister-in-law Kate Middleton on Twitter, Daily Mail, The Sun and numerous other British tabloids, for their fashion styles, their family histories, and worst of all: their pregnancies. Despite Markle being candid about her miscarriage by penning an op-ed for The New York Times in November 2020, that didn’t stop the tabloids from bashing her in the headlines. 

The tabloids exploited her relationship with her estranged father for more than two years, while labeling Markle as the “pushy princess” and comparing her to her “perfect” sister-in-law. One headline from the British tabloid  Daily Express adored Prince William for gifting pregnant Kate an avocado to cure her morning sickness; however, Meghan Markle’s “beloved avocado [was] linked to human rights abuse and drought, millennial shame.” The double standard forced Meghan and Harry to leave the UK for California in early 2020, but even then the disparaging headlines are continuing to be published. 

At one point Meghan was even contemplating suicide, but Kensington Palace (better known as the Firm)  seemed to act as if nothing unusual was occurring. The royal family purposefully chose not to protect her from the tabloids because at the end of the day, being a member of the family is simply about how many popularity points you can rank up. For example, Prince Charles became envious of Princess Diana after realizing that the public was in love with her, not him. She had wooed the public with her grace, while he stood there fidgeting with his hands. We can use this same moment to compare it with Meghan’s experience. She had become more popular than William and Kate, with her wedding ranking up 1.9 billion views and the public (outside of the tabloids) adoring her. This most likely riled up the future king and queen, leading to more hate against Meghan. 

The Tik-Tok personality @matta_of_fact, a self-proclaimed royal expert, mentions that the Firm constantly evokes Diana’s memory, despite their past of holding a grudge against the late princess for not abiding by their rules. As she said, “They are unable to replicate the full genius of Diana’s public persona because it didn’t fit with the way that the firm operated and continues to operate today.” Meghan emulated this, while the Firm attempted to dress Kate as the modern-day Diana. 

Were they the ones responsible for the hate campaign against Meghan? Unless we were witnesses to the drama at the palace, we may never know. Nevertheless, Prince Harry dodging the question asked by Today show host Hoda Kotb on whether he missed his brother definitely has a chance of confirming this theory.

Their leave, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movements, had the younger generation realize that the monarchy has no beneficial position in society. After Meghan and Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah, where they had given voice to the racism occurring in Kensington Palace (better known as the Firm), the monarchy rushed to find methods to fix their reputation. Following Meghan’s claim of a royal member being concerned that her son’s skin color would be too dark, the Firm immediately had the tabloids publish an article of a friend of William’s, who is Black, declaring William was not a racist. Instead of making it seem as if Prince William did not make that comment, the article made William even more suspicious. Having a black person come rescue you from a media storm accusing you of being racist definitely made William appear as a racist and as a terrible friend. 

But are we even surprised? England has had a long, dark history of exploiting the resources of developing nations. Even today, the monarchy still uses imperialist tactics to maintain control over their former colonies. Queen Elizabeth is still the queen of 15 commonwealth realms, which means she is still the monarch and head of state in those 15 independent countries.  

Looking back at history, it is clear that England was a major force in the slave trade. The monarchy also had hands advocating for slavery by funding slave voyages and for exploiting their labor. Is this surprising? Of course it is not – but where are the apologies for that then?

On their Caribbean tour just last month, Prince William expressed “profound sorrow” over slavery and said “it should have never happened.” It’s great that he’s self-aware over slavery being terrible (which should be an established fact), but where is the apology from the monarchy over condoning this sort of behavior? Suddenly crickets are chirping. The royal family can stand with Prince Andrew, who was close with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, but when the descendants of African slaves long for recognition and reparations for their generational trauma, the royal family uses taxpayer money to participate in lengthy, grand tours around the world to retain their influence in their former colonies instead. 

Fortunately, it has been proven to fail recently. William and Kate’s spectacle of a show during the Caribbean tour sparked backlash. The island country Barbados just last year removed the queen as its head of state, and Jamaica is poised to do the same. Protests erupted in Jamaica and in Belize demanding change, where the Jamaicans utilized the ‘Say Yeh Sorry’ campaign to pressure the royal family into apologizing. 

Will the 1,200 year rule of the British monarchy suddenly evaporate as a result of the royal family’s reputation coming under fire? Most likely not – but the recent events have made the Firm scrambling to keep the royal family intact. This should be a sign for us to stop glamorizing them as style icons, but instead hold them accountable for their actions. This also includes not glamorizing Meghan and Harry because at the end of the day, all members of the royal family are equally guilty of being overpaid narcissists. Actions have consequences – to defend and participate in racism should have consequences attached.