In Finding Freedom, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand do an excellent job of assessing and explaining the attacks on the Duchess of Sussex, but as we’ve been discussing this week, there are absolutely some details left out, like who was behind what. I suspect that this is a legal issue for Scobie and Durand about what can be proven and what can’t. I also appreciate the fact that they point out at several different points that so many people had problems with Meghan and only *part* of it was about racism. I mean, I still believe a huge chunk of it was racism, and Durand and Scobie do too. But the vein of anti-Americanism was really strong within the Firm:
A number of courtiers believe there were some working in the institution who were biased against Meghan because she was an American and a former actress. There are inherently different working styles between Americans and Brits. Americans can be much more direct, and that doesn’t often sit well in the much more refined institution of the monarchy. Sometimes the American matter-of-fact tone in British society could be viewed as abrasive.
“This is a script that wrote itself as soon as you knew that an American actress was coming into the royal family,” another aide added.
Meghan felt like some of the commentary and tabloid stories were more than a culture clash; they were sexist and prejudiced. If a man got up before dawn to work, he was applauded for his work ethic. If a woman did it, she was deemed difficult or a bitch. The double standard was only exacerbated when it came to successful women of color, often labeled as demanding or aggressive.
[From Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan, and the Making of a Modern Royal Family]
I think it’s all connected, the sexist and racist tropes of “duchess difficult” and labeling Meghan as rude or aggressive or angry or a diva – to American ears, we’ve had those conversations for years, if not decades. We call out the dog-whistles when we hear them. And… it feels like British society does not even acknowledge that there are racist dog-whistles. That too is part of the “culture clash” between Americans and Brits, the lack of conversation about what is and is not an offensive, dehumanizing stereotype. And yes, Meghan’s American work ethic didn’t help her among those stuffy courtiers who were used to telling the royals when and where to work. They weren’t used to a duchess – a biracial American woman – who had ideas, who wanted to implement things in a timely fashion, who wanted her staff to pull 40-50 hour weeks.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red, Backgrid.
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