Meghan Markle's Vanity Fair story on Prince Harry romance sparks sexist claims

A Vanity Fair profile of Meghan Markle has sparked marriage rumors for the actress and her boyfriend Prince Harry — and backlash for its sexist undertones.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Until now, Meghan Markle has kept mum about her romance with Prince Harry. (Photo: BACKGRID)

In the story “Meghan Markle, Wild About Harry!” published on Tuesday, Suits actress Markle opens up for the first time about her year-long romance with Harry, the 33-year-old younger brother of Prince William.

“We’re two people who are really happy and in love,” Markle told Vanity Fair of her relationship. “We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

The article’s overt emphasis on Markle’s love life while glossing over areas such as her career, humanitarian work, personal style, or her experience as a biracial woman, prompted social media to recirculate the hashtag, #AskHerMore (a call to action for reporters to ask in-depth questions of female subjects) and to emphasize Markle’s achievements — not her boyfriend.

Markle’s Vanity Fair reveal affirmed a November statement released by Kensington Palace on behalf of the famously private Prince Harry. The message, which expressed the prince’s desire to shield Markle from the sudden media frenzy triggered by their relationship, read in part, “His girlfriend Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. … Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game.’ He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”

The Vanity Fair article also included speculation on whether Queen Elizabeth has given her blessing to the couple, with royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith commenting that the 91-year-old monarch is “remarkably open-minded and she’s very tolerant” adding, “the stakes are obviously lower in the case of Harry because he is now fifth in line to the throne.”

The article also touched on Markle’s sudden fame by association with the royal family. “She isn’t somebody who was already a celebrity, who had paparazzi tracking her day and night in Hollywood or New York or Toronto,” said Smith. “She’s going through something that should be the most glorious and open time in her life, to be able to share, but because of circumstances, that’s very hard.”

The social media reaction to Markle is similar to what occurred when George Clooney began dating now wife Amal. Despite the 39-year-old’s impressive résumé as a human rights lawyer, Amal’s accomplishments were overshadowed by George’s celebrity. The internet — including journalists — mocked the discrepancy with sarcastic revisions of headlines that minimized the actor’s persona, such as “Internationally Renowned Human Rights Lawyer Marries Actor Who Played Handyman on ‘Facts of Life.’” And the public continues to demand #AskHerMore whenever Amal’s pregnancy style or postpartum figure makes headlines.

And for better or worse, Melania Trump triggered the hashtag when the media overwhelmingly reported on her stiletto heels, which she recently wore to Texas during a trip to help provide relief to Hurricane Harvey victims.

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