Sunday 20 January 2019

Why has Meghan Markle been cast as the Yoko Ono of our times?

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the University of Chichester's Engineering and Technology Park on October 3, 2018 in
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the University of Chichester's Engineering and Technology Park on October 3, 2018 in
Meghan Markle, Britain's Duchess of Sussex. Photo: Getty
TOGETHER: Duchesses Meghan and Kate attend church at Sandringham on Christmas Day. Photo: Joe Gidden/PA
Meghan Markle
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

Another day, another character profile of Meghan Markle. This latest account comes from Lady Colin Campbell - a woman who is considered a Royal 'insider' because she knew Princess Diana a bit.

Campbell, who appeared on the Channel 5 documentary Kate v Meghan: Princesses At War last week, claims that Markle has vast influence over Prince Harry. "Everything I hear is that Harry is completely beguiled by Meghan and completely enthralled to her and has changed considerably," she said.

The author, socialite and one-time I'm a Celebrity... contestant also pointed out that people change when they marry. Unfortunately, her earlier choice of language makes it sound as though Prince Harry didn't have much choice in the matter.Campbell suggested that Harry is under some sort of love spell. Notice that she didn't use the words 'love' or 'devotion'. She chose the words 'beguiled' and 'enthralled', which suggest that poor, innocent Harry has been bewitched by this spellbinding beauty and her green juice potions.

Much has been written about the influence Markle has had on Harry's lifestyle. Apparently the former party boy has given up smoking, fast food and, in support of his wife's pregnancy, alcohol. Markle is also said to be shaking things up in Kensington Palace by sending emails to staff at 5am and - shock, horror! - writing her own speeches.

 

Her Royal Highness has been portrayed as a firebrand, but 'Duchess Difficult', don't forget, has relinquished her career, her home and her political pursuits for one of the most oppressive regimes in the free world.

It's clear Markle is trying to hold on to what parts of her identity she didn't sign away. Rather than be moulded, she is doing the moulding. Even gimlet-eyed Royalists would have to concede that Markle has had a largely positive influence on a man who used to dress up as a Nazi and snort vodka for larks. And that's the problem. It doesn't matter if her influence is positive, negative or indifferent. What matters, to a certain set of people, is that she has any influence at all. Maybe it's patriarchal conditioning or the shadow cast by the witch-hunts of early modern Europe. Either way, there is still a cohort of people who are suspicious of women that wield influence - especially when it's over men.

Campbell is right - people do change when they fall in love and marry. However, when a man changes "considerably", you'll always find that there's a group of people lining up to comment on the woman's impact. And here's the interesting part: they rarely point to her wisdom, intellect or better judgment.

No, they talk about her feminine wiles in a way that suggests she's dabbling in dark arts while casting voodoo love spells out of her vagina. This is how Yoko Ono was portrayed when The Beatles broke up. Ono was an artist in her own right but fans couldn't accept she might actually have had some worthy creative input.

Anyone who saw the recent Michael Epstein documentary Above Us Only Sky will know that Ono did in fact influence Lennon's work, but it's taken this long for her to get a second hearing (and a writing credit on 'Imagine'). As for the 30-year-long witch-hunt she endured, well, she seems to have come through it with good humour if the title of her 2007 collaborative album is anything to go by - Yes, I'm a Witch Too. At the heart of the issue is female power. The stronger the woman, the more suspicious we become.

The formidable Angelina Jolie was burned at the pyre when she filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. Her former husband later admitted that his problems with alcohol and marijuana led to the demise of their marriage, but still the press focused on Jolie's allegedly controlling nature, while the gossip rags peddled a ridiculous story about her using witchcraft to win him back.

Strong women like Jolie get the blame for just about any tragedy that befalls the men in their lives.

Conspiracy theorists argue that Courtney Love orchestrated the death of her husband Kurt Cobain.

The family of INXS singer Michael Hutchence believe Paula Yates drove him to suicide by threatening to kill herself and their daughter. Ariana Grande was blamed for the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, who died from an accidental overdose. She should have been more like Jennifer Garner - the dutiful ex-wife who drove her estranged husband to rehab last year.

They say behind every great man there's a great woman. It's a lovely fridge magnet platitude, but make no mistake, the operative word is 'behind', not 'beside'. Women who stand side by side with men spell trouble, which is why the Meghan Markle witch-hunt is as exasperating as it is inevitable.

Irish Independent

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