Challenging the dynamics of Meghan Markle, the monarchy and feminism

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Hannah News

A new paper, which has already received significant national and international attention, has provided insights into Meghan Markle’s relationship with feminism and how this might have changed as she became of a member of the Royal Family.

Dr Hannah Yelin, Senior Lecturer in Media and Culture at Oxford Brookes University,  co-authored the article with Laura Clancy, Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies from Lancaster University, entitled ‘Meghan’s Manifesto’: Meghan Markle and the Co-option of Feminism.

The paper, published this month in the journal Celebrity Studies, examines how Meghan Markle was depicted in the press around the time of the Royal Wedding in May as a voice for social justice, women’s empowerment and a feminist of colour, breaking several glass ceilings.

However, the researchers posit that the Royal Family have been able to use Meghan’s progressive reputation to look like they are modernising without making any material change to the structural inequality the institution represents. They note that it has “already been demonstrated that Markle’s activist voice has been either silenced or appropriated by the monarchy: she has quit her acting career, closed down her popular blog and social media accounts for all her online activity to be ciphered through Kensington Palace.” 

The academics also note that “a blog post she wrote on menstrual stigma has been co-opted for her official biography on the royal website”, while “Buckingham Palace has been criticised for only belatedly including reference to Markle’s six years on the TV show Suits, after its absence from her official profile was conspicuously noted.”

The authors go on to state that this “suggests that not only are Markle’s previous platforms being reigned in but also that the Palace find it somewhat regrettable, perhaps even embarrassing, that she ever previously had a public voice.”

The article was first picked up by The Sunday Times (a paywall may apply) and has since sparked debate in news titles around the world with Dr Yelin giving follow up stories in outlets from Grazia to Sky News.  The journal paper can be found on the Celebrity Studies journal website.

You can find out more about the research expertise of Dr Hannah Yelin on her staff profile page.