Skip to content

The construction of “Princess Meghan”

The construction of "Princess Meghan".

Behind the scenes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex fairy tale was a carefully constructed plan to win over crowds both home and abroad, according to a University of Southern Queensland cultural studies researcher.

Dr Jess Carniel’s new journal article, ‘A Commonwealth Princess? The Instrumentalization of Meghan Markle’s Race to Construct Her Royal Persona’ published in Persona Studies, explored efforts to create a specific royal persona for Meghan Markle prior to her departure from her role as a senior royal in early 2020.

Dr Carniel said as the first person of colour to marry into the British Royal family, steps were taken to find a space for Meghan Markle in the eyes of the British public and the press, and, at a higher symbolic level, to strengthen relations with the Commonwealth of Nations.

“She was both a challenge and an opportunity to those working to cultivate the royal brand and its associated personas, such as their publicity and communications staff,” Dr Carniel said.

“She was an opportunity to push a more modern face for the royal family, but she was also a challenge because, fanned by British tabloid culture, her racial identity signalled a disruption of the ‘tradition’ of the monarchy – a tradition built upon race and empire.”

Dr Carniel said Meghan Markle’s celebrity and royal personas each incorporated her racial identity, but the latter used it to construct a space for Markle that reinforced rather than challenged the royal brand.

“The first purpose in crafting a “Commonwealth Princess” was to use both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their early popularity to leverage a more modern face to monarchy in the Commonwealth,” she said.

“The second purpose, stemming from this, was to maintain and strengthen contemporary relations with Commonwealth nations.

“Markle’s biracial identity was an important part of this strategy and persona as it became a means to connect to colonised people of colour.”

Read ‘A Commonwealth Princess? The instrumentalization of Meghan Markle’s race to construct her royal persona’.

Did you know:

  • Meghan Markle rose to fame for her portrayal of Rachel Zane on the television legal drama Suits.
  • Her wedding veil paid tribute to all 53 Commonwealth countries with flowers from each nation represented.
  • Some historians think Britain had royal family members of colour centuries ago, with theories that wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte, had African ancestry