By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–
I have to admit, when I decided to write on this topic this week, I thought it would be a bit of a lighter piece, but after watching Sunday night’s revelatory interview, I realized that this would be far from light.
Surely, for history-aware folks, it was already understood that the British Royal Institution, as part of a colonizing country, had a deeply racist history. As a political science major, I’ve always felt a bit of shame about my genuine interest in the Royals, but I have also always known that the Institution is deeply flawed, damaging, and in no way progressive.
But after Harry and Meghan’s interview, I realized how little I really knew.
Meghan’s candidness to speak so frankly and truthfully about her personal struggles with mental health, even her having suicidal thoughts, to her pleas for safety for her family, to her feelings of betrayal by the Institution in the name of protection, and the legacies of racism all coming to head in the face of her and her then-unborn baby hallmarked her courage and candor. Truly, to speak so unabashedly about such deeply personal matters knowing the rift it would cause took such integrity, strength, and bravery.
I, like interviewer-of-the-century Oprah, was struck by Harry’s revealing that his Dad had at one point rejected his calls. I empathized so deeply as Meghan discussed how when she needed help, due to both the Institution’s unwillingness to do anything and her social status preventing her from going to a standard hospital, she couldn’t get it. In nearly every example, legacies of racism and sexism were woven throughout. But it was when Meghan, and later Harry, said that someone in the family had shared concerns about how dark the then-unborn Archie’s skin might be, that the shoe dropped.
Oprah’s memorable “what?” encompassed the collective reaction of all viewer’s watching, but in some ways, I wasn’t as shocked as maybe I could’ve been. The roots of royalty are entrenched in racism. While I think most folks hope (and perhaps assume) that the Royals have adapted with the times, through their public image, their whiteness, and their wealth, it is clear that not much has changed. And as we know now, both the media and the Royals benefit from one another, just as they are. So why would they change?
Regardless, Harry and Meghan’s interview offered a lot of food for thought. Why has America’s infatuation with the Royals persisted all these years? What will the legacy of Meghan and Harry be? Nevertheless, it was an interview that truly did live up to its hype. But on day after International Women’s Day, it’s like Meghan said: in the end, the Little Mermaid does find her voice. The truth cannot be silenced forever.