The British royal family is one in which many women hold immense power. For them to not use that power to support other women is both a sad reality, and a historical one. As The Crown’s recent season reflected on, Princess Diana also lacked support from key women in the royal family, often at times where she was under great duress.
What is surprising, however, is that women who have experienced the harrowing existence of being a royal - the relentless media torment, the social expectations, the ever-changing popular opinion of you - seem to be the ones who really abandoned Meghan at the most critical times.
Take Kate Middleton, for example. Kate has had her own share of royal-related stressors. Who could forget the time she wore a sheer dress on a charity fashion runway show, and received endless slut-shaming comments for it in the media? The same media have critiqued her weight, her body post-baby, her relationships. They’ve hounded her during some of the most traumatic periods of her life.
You would think given her own harrowing experiences, that she would be a support to Meghan through her similar circumstances. Instead, as Meghan outlined in her interview today, Kate not only made some upsetting comments about Meghan’s flower girl dresses just three days before her wedding - she also allowed rumours to run unchecked that alleged it was Meghan who actually made HER cry, further cementing public hate toward Meghan.
Obviously, The Queen is an obvious female in power who abandoned Meghan, but in a far worse way. As Meghan explained to Oprah today, her mental health became so bad at one point that she was experiencing constant suicidal thoughts. When she approached the "institution" (senior officials who work for the royal family) about seeking help, “they said I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for the institution.”
Any Crown or royals fan can see how concerningly this mirrors Diana’s own experiences with seeking support from the royal family and those who represent them. It is honestly baffling as to why the support system has not changed, given the tragic life Diana went on to lead.
But what is far more baffling to me is how all the royal women have been constantly placed under huge amounts of pressure - to be chaste, to be well-behaved, to be polite and courteous, to be strong but soft, - and yet those same women seemed to lack all empathy for the latest woman to experience this gauntlet.
What does that say about the royals? Perhaps that they are too bound to tradition and “the way things are done”. Maybe there are other factors to this story that we aren’t privy to. But even if there is another side to this story, it’s unlikely that Meghan is straight-up lying about her experience - and it was abundantly clear that she went through real trauma during those years in England, and that the royals and their representatives really did not get involved in stemming the flow of rumours and criticism.
It's always sad to hear stories of women being left unsupported by other women. But it's particularly tragic to hear this story on the day that is supposed to be about female empowerment and community.
And, I feel, all the more important that we sit up and take note.