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"Dignified" Kate and "difficult" Meghan: The stark double standards of the British media.

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On Monday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down for their long-anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The wide-ranging interview, which has since been viewed by millions worldwide, covered everything from Harry and Meghan's royal wedding to their relationships with other members of the royal family.

But as many expected, the most prominent focus of the interview was the couple's years-long struggle with the British press.

Watch the moment Prince Harry spoke openly about Meghan Markle's mental health during the birth of their son, Archie. Post continues after video.


Video via CBS.

During the interview, Meghan admitted that she struggled with suicidal ideation after years of harsh criticism from the British tabloids.

"I just didn’t see a solution. I would sit up at night, and I was just, like, I don’t understand how all of this is being churned out," Meghan said.

"I realised that it was all happening just because I was breathing. I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry, especially, because I know how much loss he’s suffered. But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought."

Since their relationship went public in 2016, Harry and Meghan have remained outspoken about the media's treatment of the Duchess of Sussex.

When they first started dating, Harry issued a rare public statement, pleading to the media – and the general public – to stop the "wave of abuse and harassment" and "outright sexist and racist comments" against Meghan. 

"Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her," the statement read.

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"It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game.' He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his."

Similarly, the couple launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday in October 2019 after the tabloid published a private handwritten letter Meghan sent to her father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018. 

Listen to Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, below. Post continues after video.

But while speaking to Oprah on Monday, Harry and Meghan both emphasised that they experienced a lack of support from the royal family while they were struggling to deal with the British press.

In new footage from the interview, which aired on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Meghan shared that instead of providing support, the royal family simply tried to compare her experience with their own experiences with the British tabloids.

"Members of his family say, 'Well, this is what's happened to all of us,' [as] if they can compare what the experience that I went through was similar to what has been shared with us," the ex-Suits actress said. 

"Kate was called 'Waity Katie,' waiting to marry William. While I imagine that was really hard — and I do, I can't picture what that felt like — this is not the same," she added.

"And if a member of his family will comfortably say, 'We've all had to deal with some things that are rude,' rude and racist are not the same."

Speaking to Oprah, Harry and Meghan both claimed that Meghan's treatment in the media was different due to Meghan's race and her outsider status as an American.

It was a claim that was well-founded.

After all, one only has to look at the headlines to understand that Meghan has long been held to an entirely different standard than other members of the royal family, including the Duchess of Cambridge.

Image: Mamamia.  

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As pointed out last year, the contrast between the reporting on Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton has been incredibly stark.

In a study conducted by The Guardian in 2020, 43 per cent of headlines published about Meghan since 2018 were found to be negative in tone, compared to just eight per cent for Kate. 

In some headline examples, Meghan and Kate were treated entirely different for doing the same thing. While Meghan was endlessly criticised and shamed, Kate was celebrated.

In one particular instance, Kate was described as "tenderly cradling" her baby bump, while Meghan was slammed for constantly cradling her own baby bump.

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In another example, Kate was celebrated for her "homegrown" bouquet of wedding flowers that followed "royal code", while Meghan was criticised for potentially "putting Princess Charlotte’s life at risk" with her choice of wedding flowers.

When looking at the labels Meghan and Kate have been given, the double standards in the British media become even more apparent.

While Kate has long been praised by the tabloids for her 'dignity' and 'poise', Meghan has been given nicknames ranging from 'Hurricane Meghan' to 'Duchess Difficult'.

Even today, the Daily Mail celebrated 'dignified Kate' for carrying on with her royal duties after Meghan and Harry's tell-all interview.

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In comparison, author Edwin Hayward pointed out that over 120 negative articles have been published about Meghan Markle across four British news websites in the past 24 hours.

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When these labels and stereotypes are continually used by the media, it perpetuates a damaging narrative. A narrative where a woman can be labelled as 'difficult' for simply speaking up.

As Meghan's biographer, Omid Scobie, told Insider"Meghan hasn't really been able to step away from that 'Duchess Difficult' character, and it leaned into some really clichéd stereotypes that I think are quite dangerous to still use."

He continued: "Particularly when we're talking about successful women of colour — being called too difficult, too demanding, too ambitious... these are things we hear time and time again."

It begs the question: If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge departed the royal family, would they face the same level of vitriol as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex? Would Kate be labelled a 'bully' for having a voice, or 'Duchess Difficult' for speaking up about mistreatment?

For more on this topic:

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Getty.

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