The false equivalencies around the “pro” and “anti” camps of Duchess of Sussex bug me. The Meghan-haters claim that everything she does is terrible, that she’s this horrendous diva who made Kate cry and tried to hijack the Queen’s favorite tiara. On the other side, the Meghan-lovers will say that they’re just reacting to all of the hatred, that Meghan is a doll and she’s misunderstood and abused by racists and the UK press… some or all of which is true. I think the world of Meghan, and she’s brought so much interest to the royal family, and so many new fans to the monarchy. People of color feel SEEN by an institution that has centered itself for decades on unearned, titled white privilege. That being said, the Meg-lovers go overboard too. And I think this is one of those times.
Personally, I’m all about this People Magazine cover story this week, where five of Meg’s long-time friends defend her. The first excerpts were full of interesting gossip about Meg’s low-key royal life and how she’s tried to deal with the toxicity of her batsh-t father. But let me also say this: People Mag and Meg’s friends are sort of overdosing on sugar. I mean, I get it. The negative stories were horrible, racist, classist, sexist and abusive. But I’m not sure how wise it is to lean in – to this crazy degree – to the version of Meg who is a saint among women, who is merely a humble servant of God, whose faith is everything:
Meghan Markle has always remained very private about her faith — but it is an essential part of her life.
“Meg is extremely faithful,” a longtime friend tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “We pray a lot together. We meditate. She has had, and especially has now, a very close relationship with God.” Meghan, 37, was baptized into the Church of England in a secret ceremony last spring ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry. And the intimate service, which was a significant nod to Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth’s role as head of the Church of England, had special meaning for Meghan, as faith is a key pillar for her.
“A deep sense of gratitude and humility has guided her,” the friend continues. “We can still be modern women and feel all the feels with feminism and be strong moms and strong wives but understand that [our] relationship [with God] is so critical.”
Meghan has also grown close to the Archbishop Justin Welby, who not only conducted her baptism, but also officiated her wedding. It’s her respect for the church that leads another close confidante to call rumors that Meghan insisted for St. George’s Chapel to be sprayed with air freshener ahead of the ceremony “outrageous.”
“I can’t think of anything more ridiculous. If people knew how spiritual she is and how serious and respectful she takes her relationship with God—she would never ask for something like that,” the longtime friend adds. “The day after the wedding I said, ‘You were so serene.’ She has a huge loving fondness for Archbishop Welby. She’s like, ‘I’m there, I’m with Harry, I’m with you guys, and I’m with the leader of my church.’ She doesn’t think about the narrative: ‘What will people think?’ She doesn’t do that. She really lives in the current moment. And when you do that, there’s no fear. She and Harry are both very grounded. She has a firm understanding of the things she can and can’t control. And she tries not to put any effort into the things she can’t control.”
It might be true. It might be that there’s no zealot like a convert, and Meg has converted to a lot for Harry. It might be that her relationship with God is deeply personal and profound. But I also think her faith is being used in this performative new narrative which was – please remember – greenlighted by the palace. Part of me thinks “why even bother?” I get what she’s trying to do though – appeal to those old fart ladies who think she’s “uppity” and appeal to the people of faith who might have written her off as a dad-hating divorcee harlot. Again, why bother though?
Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.