Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese
Of all the astonishing details offered by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in their interview with Oprah (their first since leaving their official royal roles in 2020), the most shocking to me was that the monarchy is internally referred to as “The Firm,” equipped, like any modern-day corporation, with a human resources department.
While others might have found the revelations about the Royal Family’s inner circle making racist comments about Meghan and Harry’s future off-spring shocking, I did not. What else would you expect from an institution that dates back to the tenth century? That colonized half of the modern world? Is it really any surprise that the Royal Family remains beset with institutionalized racism? The one true revelation for me was that the Royal Family has an HR Department! An HR department where one can file complaints about a toxic workplace! And this is exactly what Meghan attempted to do to combat the barrage of tabloid critiques, often racist, lobbed her way.
Since Meghan and Harry revealed their relationship to the public, she had fallen under the intense scrutiny of the British media. Paparazzi stalked her family and published tabloid covers dissecting their every move. Senior members of the Royal Family are expected to give access to the press in exchange for positive coverage. In violation of the veil of secrecy the family maintains, Meghan revealed that, on a yearly basis, the Firm hosts a Christmas party where they invite the executives of large British media corporations, like the Daily Mail and The Sun. In turn, these media magnates help maintain their Royal Highnesses’ public image (or in other words, the Firm’s brand).
What is fascinating about a corporation that is so interested in maintaining their brand is that they have done so little to protect it. This is especially surprising in the case of a new Royal star like Meghan. Upon her nuptials with Harry, the American divorcée, a bi-racial actress, turned into a real life princess with the potential to modernize the staid (and whitewashed) monarchy. In turning to The Firm’s HR department, Meghan might as well have gone directly to the press corps who berates and belittles her. She was curtly rebuffed; since she was not a paid member of the Firm, there was nothing human resources could do to help her. Cheerio!
Meghan had politely requested that she receive mental health treatment as the tabloid harassment had driven her to suicidal thoughts. But she was informed that granting her request to see a therapist only added to the incessant tabloid gossip. To add insult to injury, a story even leaked that Meghan had made Kate Middleton cry days before her own wedding in the manner of a true bridezilla. Markle told Oprah that, in fact, the opposite was true–Kate had brought her to tears; though the Firm was well aware of the real story, they did nothing to dispel the rumors. Only Kate’s image was protected when in fact she was the bully.
But why would Kate get all the good press, and Meghan all the bad? One might wonder, are the actions behind the Firm simply continuing a centuries old tradition of racism, just in shiny new packaging? Some habits are hard to break. What will it take for British monarchy to stop acting the same way they have for the last one thousand years?