‘Meghanheads’ vs. everybody else in response to news of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement

Ayanna Harrison | Staff Writer

An image of a personalized denim jacket decorated in spray paint with a red heart containing the names “Harry and Meghan” appeared on my Instagram feed on the morning of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement announcement. The caption read, “you don’t need to get ready if you stay ready!! I’ll see all you REAL Meghanheads in London in May.” After offering congratulations to my friend who had clearly prepared for this moment and waited with patient anticipation, my excitement also swelled.

The aforementioned “Meghanhead” is a young, half-black woman dating a young, white man and undoubtedly sees her own relationship in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s image. The reality that black women will soon be represented in the modern British monarchy family tree is a point of excitement for many. As I ventured throughout social media on the day of the engagement announcement and in days since, excitement has only multiplied between black women. Some even acknowledge that while they ultimately hope to witness all enduring pillars of western colonization’s downfall, their celebration of the engagement is of higher priority.

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, known best for “Suits,” pose for photos following the announcement of their engagement Nov. 27. The couple plans to wed this spring.Dominic Lipinski | PA Wire | MCT Campus

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, known best for “Suits,” pose for photos following the announcement of their engagement Nov. 27. The couple plans to wed this spring.

Judging by the reactions from black women and the more general public, very few people believed in the likelihood of a black person marrying into the British royal family. While young girls often dream of growing up to marry a prince and living a life filled with leisure, wealth and luxury, the prospect has always seemed further off for black women and women of color. Perhaps due to a lack of historical precedence or to the media’s projections of what constitutes universal beauty, whatever the case, this future marriage signals the seemingly impossible coming to fruition.

Parallel to black women’s responses concerning the royal engagement runs a dialogue that is not so enthused at Meghan Markle’s mixed-race identity. Numerous publications have harped on her heritage as “exotic” or situated Markle’s story as one of remarkable transformation up from slavery and into the ranks of British royalty. In perhaps the most explicitly disparaging article, Crenshaw, Calif. was aggressively branded as a locus for crime and gang activity as it is where Markle’s black mother currently resides.

Many have distinguished the engagement as an opportunity for Britain’s quiet racism to be revealed, juxtaposing their usually contained prejudice to the United States’ more unreserved displays of racial bigotry. To look at the negative commentary through an optimistic lens suggests that Britain might now be able to address its racism and classicism as both will become unavoidable points of public discourse. Before a problem can be remedied, the afflicted must first realize and acknowledge that it exists. So, while black women continue to celebrate, it seems that Britain faces a grave opportunity to address and improve its national prejudice concerning class and race, and welcome Meghan Markle into its royal fold as others have been welcomed before her.