As we edge closer to March 31 and “Megxit”, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been attending their final public engagements as official royals.
And while the fact that they’re out and about is often newsworthy enough for the world’s media, there’s something else I’ve noticed through the headlines — Meghan’s got her “Markle Sparkle” back.
Over the last few days, Markle has stepped out in public on four occasions — and while it’s not the first time we’ve seen her since the couple decided to step back as senior members of the royal family, it’s the first time we’ve seen her really glowing. Relaxed. Happy. And the headlines around the world? Noticeably positive.
Well before their documentary, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey (when Markle opened up about the perils of royal life), before Prince Harry’s lawsuit against two British tabloids, and before Thomas Markle’s painful interview about his daughter — the world was obsessed with the actress who made Prince Harry happy.
Known as the “Markle Sparkle”, the world was enamoured by the former Suits actress and her “rags to riches” story. (I use inverted commas because let’s not ignore the fact she was a hugely successful actress before she met Harry).
In fact, every time the Duchess would step out in a dress, coat, shoes, handbag or hair accessory, hysteria would ensure. Fans would rush to copy her style.
Back in January 2019, search platform Lyst reported that on average, whenever the Duchess wore something, the brand would see a whopping 200 percent increase in search demand over the following week.
Small fashion brands would see sales they had never seen before and thanks to sites like Meghan’s Mirror, her personal style is so well-documented, that you too can dress like a princess.
But somewhere along the line, the tabloids changed their tone, and decided that Markle was a “gold-digger”, and a “social-climber”, and that her marriage to Prince Harry wouldn’t last.
Collectively, the media turned on her progressive nature, even going so far as to make fun of her “holding her baby bump too much”.
After Archie was born, Meghan was cited as a bad mother who “couldn’t
hold her own child correctly”. In reality, there was nothing wrong with the way she was holding her baby.
They said she was too affectionate with her own husband (the audacity!). They claimed she was the cause for the infamous “royal rift” between Prince William and Harry. Many “sources” spoke of a feud between Meghan and Kate Middleton.
I mean, honestly — what?! Of course, it’s no wonder that Harry and Markle decided to step back from the prying eyes of the public, and frankly, the decision seems to suit her. (Pun not intended but thoroughly enjoyed).
So, as I (and the team) pored over images of Markle out for her final engagements, she seemed different. Her sparkle was back. Her smile contagious.
When speaking at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham for International Women’s Day, her speech was impassioned and poignant.
“No matter how small you might feel, how low you may feel on the ladder or the totem pole, no matter what color you are, no matter what gender you are — you have a voice, and you certainly have the right to speak up for what is right,” she said.
“What’s really key for all of you to remember, is especially looking at the people who paved the way for you to get to this point in your lives to be able to have the access that you do—it’s not just an opportunity to continue that, it’s a responsibility.”
Omid Scobie, a trusted royal reporter and rumoured friend of Markle, perfectly summed up exactly what the royal family would lose when the Duke and Duchess step down.
“I rarely add my own opinion to reporting,” he said. “But if there was ever a photo that illustrates what the Royal Family is about to lose — it’s this. Diversity, modernity, inclusivity and representation.”
Story continues after the Tweet.
I rarely add my own opinion to reporting but if there was ever a photo that illustrates what the Royal Family is about to lose — it’s this. Diversity, modernity, inclusivity and representation. pic.twitter.com/PDPyFPwSEP
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) March 7, 2020
After her appearance at the school, she attended church with her husband and the Queen — a powerful stance that there was “nothing to see here”. Just a tightknit family heading to church.
I’ve recently become intrigued by the path that Meghan is paving and if the past few month’s events are anything to go by, Markle is going to continue to drive real and meaningful change for the royal family.
It’s such a shame really, that it took for something so drastic to make the tabloids kind again, but as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder — and maybe a time out from the spotlight is what will give the world a very different relationship with the Sussexes.