There are many things I have in common with Meghan Markle; youth, beauty, wealth, a general ‘je n’ais se quoi’, and the burden of international fascination/obsession about me. Just for example.
And also, I’ve also been accused of ‘tainting the seed’ of the family I married into.
You see, it made international headlines this month when a UK politician’s girlfriend put his career in jeopardy after it was revealed she wrote a series of racist text messages about Meghan Markle.
The messages, published by The Mail on Sunday, were sent by 25-year-old Jo Marney, who UK Independence Party leader Henry Bolton recently left his wife for.
In the messages, Marney says she doesn’t like “black people” because they’re “ugly”. She specifically describes Markle as “wet as a scrubber” and a “dumb little actress no one has heard of”.
And then she says, “And her seed with [sic] taint our royal family. Just a dumb little commoner.”
She adds, “Not wanting other races and cultures to invade your own culture doesn’t mean I hate their race. Just means I don’t want their culture invading mine.”
Marney has since apologised for the texts, claiming she was “to an extent… taken out of context”.
Of course she was.
Whilst most of the world was outraged by the incident, this was my reaction:
YAWN. Meghan, you’re not that special. The same thing happened to me, girlfriend. And not by a stranger, by my own mother-in-law.
It all happened about twenty years ago, when I, like Markle, was young, carefree and dating my future husband. (Who sadly was not a potential future King of England.)
His parents lived in Sydney, so I didn’t have to worry about impressing them for at least six months. And when the time came, I was supremely confident there wouldn’t be an issue, because, well, I rock.
Which is why I was surprised to see my boyfriend nervous about the impending meeting.
“Parents love me,” I reassured him. He wasn’t so sure.
Finally, he admitted, “They’re worried you’re brown.”
My boyfriend dug his hole/explained further, “They can handle that you’re young. But mum’s really worried about having a brown baby in the family. It will look strange. People won’t know it’s mine.”
So… they were cool enough to accept I was two decades younger than him, but the big issue was that at some stage in the distant future (we’d only been together for six months) I could have a baby with their son, and that baby’s mere appearance could bring shame upon the family.
There was nothing to do but laugh. And write a story about it two decades later to try to trump Meghan Markle.
Because this is the thing; you can’t argue with that kind of logic. There’s no point. So the comments were swept under the rug.
And that’s where Markle’s experience and mine differ.
Upon learning of her texts, Marney was “immediately suspended” from the UK Independence Party. Bolton’s career was put in dire jeopardy.
But nothing bloody happened to my future MIL. No one was internationally (or even domestically) shamed. No one risked losing their job. No one had to pretend that they were splitting up for the future of humanity.
Listen: Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Bailey discuss the boundaries and etiquette surrounding families and social media. (Post continues…)
The worst part? Fast forward 10 years and a wedding later, and I didn’t even get to have a ‘revenge baby’.
That’s right – I called it a revenge baby. Having a baby one hundred times browner than me would have really made my MIL squirm – the ultimate revenge! But alas, I didn’t have a revenge baby – I had this baby:
Not exactly the revenge baby I had in mind. But I still love him anyway.
Even if he hasn't disgraced the family with the colour of his skin.