British tabloids are outraged after Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, declared that she would not allow photographers to immediately photograph her and her baby after she gives birth.
Over the past 42 years, every royal newborn has been publicly displayed for media photographers outside the doors of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital. But in a statement issued by Buckingham Palace on behalf of Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, the royal couple said that they would “keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private” and share “the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.”
News of the decision swiftly became fuel for the tabloids, which suggested that Markle, as a member of the royal family, was obligated to put herself on display for the British public — especially after giving birth to a baby.
“Meghan you don’t get to claim ‘privacy’ after your star-studded baby shower and wedding that WE forked out £30m for,” read one headline written by The Sun’s Lauren Clark. “Being a royal isn’t a part-time job.”
But others have defended the Duchess of Sussex, noting that the outsized uproar appeared to have as much to do with societal feelings of entitlement and ownership over women’s bodies as it did with supposedly violating tradition.
Women in the World Founder Tina Brown weighed in on CBS This Morning, saying Markle is “totally entitled to do things differently,” and described the intense pressures she must endure — not only from the press, but also from the “awful, gossiping, feuding, snaky, vipering, hissing courtiers” that comprise the rival Palace camps.
The custom of displaying royal babies outside of St. Mary’s just after they are born, noted Sandi Rankaduwa in an article for Buzzfeed, has been observed by just three royal women — including Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. The monarchy itself, by comparison, has been around for centuries.
Markle has not been afraid to upend tradition since becoming the country’s sole biracial princess. Despite royal traditions that bar her from taking political stances, she has been outspoken on topics such as feminism, menstruation, and gender inequality. And during the royal wedding itself, she again tweaked royal protocol by having her mother escort her to the church instead of her father.
Prince Harry, too, has long been a critic of tabloids, which he has suggested share blame for the death of his mother after her car crashed while trying to escape photographers in Paris. Prior to his engagement and marriage to Markle, he had also criticized paparazzi for subjecting his then-girlfriend to “a wave of abuse and harassment” — including “outright sexism and racism.”
Read the full story at Buzzfeed.