It only took a handful of hours for the world to turn the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away at 99 last week, into a means of swiping at Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.
Amid the initial eulogies and condolences for the Queen of England's husband, a handful of outlets managed to turn the monarch's passing into an excuse to dunk on Meghan, with Fox News essentially pinning his passing on her …
… and Piers Morgan Peirs Morgan-ing. Yet as the early coverage of Prince Philip's death began to dissipate, another story began dominating headlines – Prince Harry would attend the funeral as Meghan Markle, and their son Archie stayed home in California. While much of this coverage mentions her familial relationships and her pregnancy, considering the broader context of the U.K. media's general and documented disdain for her, these statements are somewhat loaded. While the coverage, presented by several tabloids, focuses on her absence in the U.K., her pregnancy, and her mother's alleged insistence she stay home, there is one element often glossed in the dissection of her decision to skip Prince Phillip's funeral: We are in a global pandemic.
According to the CDC's guidelines, not only should people avoid travel in general amid the pandemic, but particularly the U.K., including the country in their list of nations with a Level 4 travel advisory, meaning that “travelers should avoid all travel to these destinations.”
Furthermore, the innate risk of overseas travel to the UK are coupled with the agency's guidance stating that pregnant people are at a higher risk of experiencing complications from Covid-19, "including illness that results in ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, and death" with the virus potentially increasing the risks of “other adverse outcomes” like premature birth.
While the NHS (the UK's healthcare system) is slightly more reserved with their assessment on how Covid-19 impacts those experiencing pregnancy, stating that “There's no evidence that if you're pregnant you're more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus. But pregnant women are in the moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) group as a precaution,” they echo the CDC's general notions regarding international travel. Although illegal to vacation overseas, there are a handful of exceptions, including funerals.
Based on both agencies' guidance surrounding these two topics, Markle's choice not to attend her great grandfather-in-law's funeral overseas is an entirely reasonable decision, at a bare minimum, out of an abundance of cation for her and her baby.
Aside from the significant physical risks, a visit back could have a significant impact on her wellbeing, and that of her child. During an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, Markle explained that racism was “a large part” of her family's decision to move back to the United States, noting a specific example during her first pregnancy in which there were "several" conversations speculating about what Archie's skin tone would be when he was born "what that would mean or look like." Considering these gut-wrenching encounters, these experiences also serve as valid reasons for Markle to want to stay back, especially as a lot of this trauma occurred while expecting a few years back.
Furthermore, the level of media scrutiny applied to Markle isn't consistently applied to all members of the royal family. For example, while Prince Philip's long history of making racist statements have been discussed in the British press following his death, they've often been dismissed as “gaffes” or attributed to his sense of humor.
“Despite the DoE's many achievements in a long life of service, some will remember him as a man who was often blunt, sometimes to the point of giving offence," read a BBC retrospective entitled “Prince Philip on royal duty: In his own words.” “His supporters always said his sense of humour was misunderstood and his remarks often taken out of context. And he himself was not unaware of his reputation - he once described himself as a ‘cantankerous old sod.’"Here are some of his most well-known lines, in chronological order. You may find some of the quotes below offensive."
So what, exactly are these quotes? Telling British students visiting China in 1986 "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed," saying a fuse box at a factory “… looks as if it was put in by an Indian,” asking Lord Taylor of Warwick, who was the first black Conservative peer "… what exotic part of the world do you come from?" and describing the city of Beijing as “ghastly.”
Considering these repeat offensives of racism, Kehinde Andrews, who is a Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, says the media should be mindful of how they portray Prince Philip following his passing. “He was a throwback to old-school racism,” the educator told CNN on Friday. 'Painting him as a benign, cuddly uncle of the nation is simply untrue. When he says things about Chinese people's eyes and chucking spears, it's very ugly and would not be tolerated anywhere else nor from anyone else."
So as we mourn Prince Philip, let's remember him in a realistic manner, recognizing his strengths and unpacking his harmful language while refraining from pinning unnecessarily judgement and blame on unrelated parties. To paraphrase a wise man named Chris Crocker, Leave. Meghan. Alone.