Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was the top news story for weeks before being overshadowed by a global pandemic. Her nuclear family’s dramatic departure from the inner workings of the most popular royal family in the world amplified the resounding change and shakeup her presence has brought to the Windsors.
Two summers ago, when then-actress Meghan Markle wed the son of the Prince of Wales, she became the first biracial member of the storied royal family. While part of society cheered the union, an ugly underlying segment of racists and bigots launched a campaign of harassment on the Duchess. The press swarmed her at both public and private engagements. Her personal mail was stolen and published. To combat this, the Windsors blocked the personal phones and social media of staff working closely with her. The Establishment spread various rumors within staff and consultant positions about her pregnancy to weed out disloyal attendants who sold stories to the press.
In the midst of this, the Duchess carried on her public life as though nothing had changed. She worked with British Vogue editor Edward Enninful to curate an issue around women who inspire her. She and the Duke of Sussex toured extensively, even as time drew closer to the birth of their first child.
Following the birth of Archie, the Sussexes retreated from public life. Media hounding and wild stories about the royal couple drove them to plan an exit from working as full-time members of the royal family. When the story leaked to the press, the Sussexes were quick to respond and make major moves. Nothing could have prepared the Duchess for life under the microscope, and her husband announced their withdrawal from the royal family as an act to preserve his own family. Recalling how the press hounded his mother, Princess Diana, until her death, Prince Harry negotiated and reconfigured a very modern relationship between the Sussexes and the Establishment.
The Sussexes, only weeks later, were photographed in Los Angeles, delivering supplies to a shelter. The move to Los Angeles coincided with the Covid-19 outbreak, which has led them to shelter in place with Archie at Tyler Perry’s Bel Air mansion while they look for permanent housing.
They manage to stay relevant and connected throughout social distancing. The Duchess recently recorded a speech for her high school alma mater, in which she condemned the death of George Floyd and showed her support for Black Lives Matter. As an important cause for the Sussexes, they have been speaking with the Black Lives Matter community leaders and organizers to become involved and contribute to the movement for racial justice.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has changed the monarchy more distinctly and in less time than anyone in modern history. But it this level of authenticity that endears her and her family to a world that is hungry for relevant royalty.