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Is There Room at Buckingham Palace for the Feminism of Meghan Markle?

Meghan Markle is a proud feminist and leader. Can the royal family handle her independent streak?

Meghan Markle’s life is about to change in ways she could only have imagined.

On Saturday, the former lead actress in USA Network’s Suits will wave goodbye to the life she’s known and say hello to her British subjects as the wife—and newly-styled Duchess of Sussex—of Prince of Wales, Henry Charles Albert David, better known as Prince Harry. Her career as an actress, her American citizenship, and her right to openly speak her mind will become a thing of the past, leaving some to wonder if she’s also leaving a part of herself behind.

Markle will soon have everything from her wardrobe choices to her personal opinions under the scrutiny of Her Majesty, The Queen and all the world. For a woman who is “proud to be a woman and a feminist” and believes that “women need a seat at the table and in some cases need to create their own table,” Markle’s new role as a member of the British royal family will likely be the most important one she’s ever had to play.

Meghan Markle delivers speech at UN Women.

Markle learned early to carve out her own path, a trait likely nurtured by her parents Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, Sr., both of whom she credits for helping her identify her independent streak. “I don’t know, Flower. You were just born that way,” Markle wrote in her personal blog about her mother in 2016, revealing the nickname given to her by her mom. “This is my mom’s response, indicative of the character traits she knows me to have: opinionated, driven, and with a deep desire to affect change.”

Her father too encouraged Markle to “stand up for what is right,” when, at the ripe old age of 11 she wrote a letter to a dish soap manufacturer suggesting that a line used in their commercial was sexist. Meghan recalled the event in a 2015 speech, noting that when two boys in her class said that “women belong in the kitchen,” she knew it was time to do something.

Many are asking how Markle will maintain her character traits while becoming an integral part of the royal family, sometimes referred to by the Duke of Edinburgh as “The Firm,” a reference to the rigid rules and protocol that all royal members must follow. Though as an accomplished actress Markle is no stranger to the spotlight, the pressure of fitting into the structure of the House of Windsor while still preserving herself and her personality will no doubt be challenging. We have only to look at the history of the battles faced by Princess Diana to know some of the issues that lie ahead for Markle.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are preparing for their royal nuptials on Saturday.

One thing that isn’t making the transition to royal life easier for Markle are some members of her immediate family. For weeks they’ve attracted negative attention on the pages of tabloids and The Queen and Country are not amused.

Yesterday, after much speculation this week whether he would attend the royal wedding, Kensington Palace sent an official notice saying 73-year-old Thomas Markle, Sr. would not be a part of Markle’s royal nuptials. Markle, Sr. is recovering from a heart attack, though prevailing opinion is that this is the un-invite the royal family was hoping for after Markle, Sr. allegedly posed for paparazzi photos for a fee.

Meghan Markle, Thomas Markle, Sr. and Meghan Markle's nephew Tyler Dooley

This may be the second marriage for the 36-year-old Meghan Markle, but it’s a life-changing event in which, according to a source, she still wanted her father to take part. “She obviously wants her dad there,” said a friend of the bride-to-be. “She and Prince Harry are begging for people to give him some space. They have been saying this for weeks, while trying to offer him support and help. He is clearly feeling under immense pressure. The concern for him is real and genuine.”

The antics of Prince Harry’s soon-to-be-in-laws don’t stop there. Meghan Markle’s half-sister Samantha this week took responsibility for the staged photos amidst claims that her actions were to “benefit the royal family.” Samantha Markle took her argument to the studio of Good Morning Britain where she received a serious clap-back from Piers Morgan. “Many of our viewers may have watched your activities and think you have treated your sister Meghan in a very shabby way,” said Morgan on air to Markle. “You’ve spent the last two years criticizing her, you called her a narcissist, selfish, that Hollywood changed her and that Prince Harry shouldn’t marry her, yet you have the gall to blame media vultures.”

Piers Morgan interviews Samantha Markle on Good Morning Britain.

And the icing on the family cake is the arrival in London of the Dooley family, namely Tracy Dooley and her grown sons Tyler and Thomas, ex-in-laws of Meghan Markle, who until today were slated to be special royal correspondents for Good Morning Britain despite not having spoken to Meghan Markle in 20 years.

Tracy Dooley, former sister-in-law of Meghan Markle.

Not only is Markle dealing with trying to keep her family out of the spotlight, she also has the opinions of the public with which to contend. Celebrity gawker and talk show host Wendy Williams this week called Markle a “random princess” saying that “I respect Meghan Markle’s hustle and I respect her game. However, she’s a bit of a wild card, you know, because she goes from being the 'Deal or No Deal' girl. So this is a girl looking for game.” Others have so heavily criticized Markle’s biracial heritage that Prince Harry last year issued an official statement expressing concern for the safety of his wife-to-be.

So what’s a young woman to do to eradicate the roadblocks on her path and yet still enjoy the amazing journey ahead of her? “Block out the noise and hold tight to your identity,” says Helen Owens, author of Finding Our She-Compass: 15 Life Lessons for Women Voyaging Toward Restoration, Reconstruction, and Renewal. “Meghan and Prince Harry have to focus on the love they have for one another and let that love see them through,” she says.

Helen Owens, author, Finding Our She-Compass

“Together they’ve already endured and sacrificed plenty, and there will be more rogue waves to come. Megan has already proven she is strong, and she can use that inner strength as an anchor for her life. There will be plenty of people that want to steer this couple off course, but if they hold tight to the helm of love and commitment, they will be on a journey together that will ultimately fulfill them both.”

Sources: New York Post, US Weekly, Daily Mail, The Mirror, Vanity Fair, The Tig

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