Meghan Markle, Feminism and the British Royal Family

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During the UN conference in 2015, Meghan Markle won the respect of spectators across the globe as she recounted her successful bid to change the wording of a national advert from ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’ to ‘People all over America’. Now a fully-fledged member of the British Royal Family, Markle is supposed to surrender her political influence as she enters the politically neutral pinnacle of British society, but is this the case?

Before I begin, I ought to note that the Royal Family is not by any means a woman-hating institution. Since the introduction of the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013, girls are granted as much right to inherit the British throne as their male siblings. This is an undeniably groundbreaking change after centuries of primarily male succession. That being said, the Royal Family continue to refrain from openly advocating any manner of equality in the name of political neutrality. Remember when Kate Middleton was fiercely criticised for wearing green to the BAFTAs instead of black to stand in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement? Apparently, gender equality is a matter of politics instead of common sense…

Introducing the new Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. Her wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018 evidenced Markle’s own feminism as she walked down the aisle alone, to be met by Prince Charles halfway as a nod to tradition. A few steps in this instance becomes a feminist statement of female authority, autonomy and influence. Markle’s statement brings an air of modernity to a traditional ceremony and demonstrates her own self-assurance.

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More recently, the Duchess has faced backlash over her clothing and dress. Despite the modernisation of the Royal Family regarding the line of succession rules, a strict protocol remains concerning dress and appearance. Meghan Markle’s fondness for the boat-neck style of top has been criticised by some for being inappropriate and even revealing. The allegedly scandalous exposure of the shoulders was apparently the most severe at the Trooping of the Colours (pictured above) earlier in the year. Such baffling criticism surely proves that the Royal Family remains overly traditional and outdated in terms of female dress.

Perhaps it is the case after all that whilst the Royal Family is (admittedly) slowly modernising, it is not in the position to keep up with the rest of us because of its emphasis on maintaining tradition. I would argue that whilst ‘The Firm’ is changing with the times, very little effort has been made to address the outdated protocol related to dress and remaining silent on matters arguably more of common sense rather than politics (*cough* gender equality *cough*). Perhaps Meghan Markle will serve as the catalyst for this modernisation… I for one certainly hope so!

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An English student with a passion for reading, hiking and current affairs.

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