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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 25 May, 2019

The Meghan Markle narrative is a classic example of the 'build 'em up and knock 'em down' approach

Meghan’s grace period is over for now.

IF THERE’S ONE thing the British tabloid media are known for, it’s the ‘build ‘em up and knock em’ down’ approach to those in the public eye.

Indeed, ever since red-tops began populating newsagent shelves, this method has been favoured by the vast majority of outlets, with the wider public bearing witness to the calculated steps required to adulate a person before ultimately annihilating them in print.

In recent weeks, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has been the subject of considerable speculation.

dos Source: PA Images

From her relationship with the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and her dealings with staff members employed by the Royal Family to her choice of nail polish and list of wedding day demands, the 37-year-old former actress has found herself at the centre of a sudden shift in narrative.

Ironically, in the lead-up to the Royal wedding in May, Meghan was lauded as the breath of fresh air the British Royal Family so desperately needed.

Indeed, if the British press were to be believed during the first half of this year, Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry heralded a new chapter in the British Monarchy’s story, acted as a vehicle for modernisation, and signified so much more than their devotion to one another, but the entire family’s devotion to change.

As a divorced biracial woman from the United States, Meghan’s union with Harry was undoubtedly an anomaly – if you were to consider the British Royal Family’s history, that is – but every aspect of their relationship, engagement and subsequent wedding was presented to the public in a package brimming with positivity.

UK GDP figures Source: Gareth Fuller

And in less than half a year, it seems all of these supposed positives have been turned on their head, and in the last two weeks, Meghan has found herself the villain in the story.

Whether or not the general public warmed to Meghan or not over the last 12 months is ultimately beside the point, as the British media seem intent on preserving and perpetuating their ‘build ‘em up and knock ‘em down’ approach regardless of public opinion. 

In other words, the arc of the narrative had been determined long before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ever tied the knot, announced their engagement or even clapped eyes on one another.

When it comes to those in the public eye, twas ever thus.  

It seems Meghan is no longer seen as the doe-eyed philanthropist who just happened to hit it off with a red-haired English man, but the former celebrity who got her claws into Prince Harry and her feet firmly beneath the banquet table.

Six months ago, a level of empathy was shown to Meghan over her extended family’s continuous courting of the press, today their accusations appear to be used to bolster the tabloid narrative.

As recently as this summer, Meghan’s lack of familiarity with royal protocol and etiquette was dubbed ‘adorable’, today the ‘wrong’ shade of make-up will see her dubbed vulgar while choosing not to wear a hat to an event will suggest a problematic attitude.

And why? Because when it comes to the Royal Family, a ‘villain’ is an integral part of the press’s telling of their story, and it’s all the more captivating when that ‘villain’ is a woman.

She may have been dubbed the ‘People’s Princess’ in death, but there was a time when Prince Harry’s mother was the subject of the classic ‘build ‘em up, knock ‘em down’ approach, while the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, were also – at times – used as the scapegoats for royal gossip.

It seems Meghan’s grace period is over for now, but cynical as it seems, the arrival of her first child will likely turn the tide in her favour again, at least when it comes to certain outlets.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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