Royal call for reform

Mihika Sathe, manager

On Jan. 8, 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—Prince Harry and Meghan Markle— announced that they would be stepping back as senior members of the royal family and relocating to Canada. This announcement came as a shock to millions of people across the UK and the world. While there has been a lot of speculation about why the couple made this decision, one of the main reasons is the British media’s harsh and oftentimes racist treatment of Markle. 

Ever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle began dating in 2016, the British media has relentlessly criticized Markle’s every move. Even when Markle did something as simple as cradling her baby bump, Express—one of the UK’s most popular tabloids—wrote an article with the headline, “Meghan CAN’T STOP showing off: Duchess uses these SNEAKY tricks to flaunt her baby bump.” 

Furthermore, Markle has been subject to immense racial prejudice in the media. For example, the Daily Mail, a popular UK tabloid has described Markle as “exotic,” “almost straight outta Compton,” and “gang-scarred.” This language was intentionally chosen to portray Markle as an outsider who didn’t belong in Britain, further perpetuating the media’s unfair treatment of Markle.

The major driving force behind this media misrepresentation has been the royal rota system. The royal rota gives a select group of media outlets exclusive access to royal events. These outlets can then share the information they receive with other publications. The effect of this system is that it allows one small inaccuracy or rumor to spread rapidly throughout the British media.

As access to media continues to grow throughout Britain, the consequences of media misrepresentation become even more serious. Racial prejudice and misrepresentation in the media perpetuate racism and exclusion in smaller communities such as social media. For instance, the media’s depiction of Meghan Markle led to the creation of #Megxit—a hashtag used on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to urge Markle to exit both the royal family and Britain.  

The inaccurate and discriminatory reporting in the status quo should not be tolerated. One possible reform would be to eliminate the royal rota system, which would encourage media outlets to engage in more meaningful reporting, rather than relying on false claims and rumors. Regardless of how the British media decides to address this issue, it is imperative that some change is made in order to preserve the credibility of the media for future generations.