I don’t get it. I just don’t.
When the more dubious end of the press uses incorrect terms to write about [some] women, I can see that there might be an agenda. But the supposedly ‘better’ end? Like The Guardian or The New Statesman? They are sort of meant to be on ‘our’ side, aren’t they? To be fair, even when writing about people they for some reason don’t approve of.
They clearly have rules about how to mention people. The Guardian calls women by their surname only, and it looks like The New Statesman does too. Fair enough, even though I’d rather they didn’t write about me as Giles (it feels worse when a surname can also be a first name, and that of the opposite sex. But never mind me, or sex…) I know they would, if they were ever to write about me.
But the Duchess of Sussex. She should only have been Markle in the press until that day in May 2018 when she married her prince and became a duchess. Various things have happened, but she has so far not been de-duchessed, so to speak. If you want to be [over]familiar, and not necessarily in a benevolent, kindly way, I’d be all right with her being written about as Meghan. Whether she would, I have no idea. But it remains her name, if only in private.
There are two ways of writing about someone like the Duchess of Sussex. You can say bad things about her, for whatever reason. And you can use her maiden name in a negative fashion. Even if it’s surname only, in the ‘egalitarian’ way of The Guardian and The New Statesman.
At the weekend there was a television programme about the Sussexes versus the monarchy. It was Channel 5, so I wouldn’t expect a lot. But in the Guardian Guide, the Duchess was described as Markle. And there was a mention of Prince Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle. Excuse me, they are married. Yes, technically it’s a relationship, but it ought not to be up for discussion.
OK, so the Duchess of Cambridge remained Kate [Middleton] a bit longer than was strictly necessary. But they like her now.
And did we ever refer to Simpson? The least she would have got was surely a Mrs Simpson? But with hindsight, yes, that was rude too. Whatever you thought of her, she was the Duchess of Windsor.
We can’t stop the press from hating or persecuting various royals, or their spouses who had the temerity to marry into this famous family. I have done some brief research here, and I believe that Diana, Princess of Wales, remained as such until her death, and the title only went to the current Princess of Wales when she married, but she doesn’t use it. We have lots of nice names for Diana, whatever your opinions of her.
I’d like us to be kind and polite towards her daughter-in-law Meghan, especially as it appears to be women the press feel comfortable doing this to.