This is why you can’t just let anyone appear on your network: the classism (and underlying racism) might just jump out—on-air. As has been widely reported, the royals formerly known as Prince Harry (just kidding; he’ll technically always be a prince) and wife Meghan Markle made their final appearances as members of the British monarchy this past week, returning to London for a series of events before a one-year “review period” of their divestment from their royal titles and duties begins on March 31. But as Buzzfeed reported on Saturday, the American-born duchess can’t disappear fast enough for one MSNBC Live guest.
“I think what has really, really upset the British public is that Meghan Markle, who many people consider as only, you know, five clicks up from trailer trash, has actually tried to disrespect the queen,” said British reporter and so-called “Vanity Fair royals watcher” Victoria Mather, adding: “And the queen is the most respected person, most respected woman, in the world.” Following the abrasive statements, MSNBC Anchor Lindsay Reiser immediately ended the interview, thanking Mather for her time and quickly pivoting to another segment.
The queen might very well be the most respected woman in England (and among many in the world at large), but I think we can all agree that Mather’s reference to Markle was far more disrespectful than any breach of protocol by the duchess (and duke). Aside from being classist and insulting, it was also inaccurate, as the middle-class-born Markle was a graduate of Northwestern University before co-starring on a hit television show and running a successful lifestyle blog before meeting Harry in 2016. It may not have been a royal upbringing, but could hardly be characterized as “trash.”
But not only was Mather’s characterization inaccurate; as it turned out, so were her credentials. While the journalist was a former contributing travel writer for Vanity Fair (with an “Ask Victoria” column), she’s currently “chief travel correspondent” for former VF editor-in-chief Graydon Carter’s new online weekly, Air Mail; a change of employ she didn’t clarify to MSNBC. Unamused by the association, Condé Nast, Vanity Fair’s parent company, told BuzzFeed Mather has not been employed with the magazine since 2018.
Even more interesting is her history as a “royal-watcher,” which seems peppered with plenty of disrespect of its own. In fact, this isn’t even the first time Mather has referred to Markle as “trailer trash”—which likely explains why she felt so comfortable repeating it on-air. In a scathing and speculative column she wrote for Air Mail last September, she not only called Markle the “Duchess of Excess” and “Me-ghan” (while Harry has renamed the “Prince of Wokeness”) but felt the need to “compare and contrast” the Sussexes with the Cambridges, writing:
As for the reported feud between the duchesses, that was a story waiting to happen.
Catherine comes from a stable, close-knit family. Meghan comes from a sadly dysfunctional family, leading to her being unpleasantly trolled as trailer trash. Her soi-disant acting career most recently included a part in a cable-TV series—filmed mostly in Canada, no less! It’s not exactly Grace Kelly, but the British public willed her to be a similar fairy-tale princess. It is that disappointment, deepened by Meghan’s reported rudeness to her staff, the couple going through three nannies in three months, and the grudgingly coy public picture of Archie’s feet (rather than face), that caused Kate to be upgraded to blueblood and Meghan downgraded to red carpet.
It is the modern conundrum of royalty versus celebrity, and Meghan does not seem to have grasped the difference.
Mather later added to the swell of voices blaming Markle for the estrangement between Harry and brother William, calling the duchess “Yoko Ono” for purportedly breaking up the “Fab Four” (of which Markle was presumably a part) and basically reducing her to a sexual object in the process.
“The rift began, perhaps, when William appeared insufficiently thrilled about his brother’s rush to marriage,” she wrote. “But William could not combat Harry’s sexual obsession with Markle.”
Clearly, Mather has kept that same energy for the past six months, as she casually reiterated what she likely thought was the cute “trailer trash” quip for MSNBC’s audience. While we continue to believe that much of the criticism leveled at Markle—particularly that which has been couched in classist rhetoric—belies a nasty undercurrent of racial bias, it’s also fair to note that Mather had less than lovely things to say about Kate Middleton when the now-Duchess of Cambridge was engaged to heir-to-the-throne Prince William in 2007, as reported by CBS News.
“I am not personally in favor of this marriage,” she told the outlet. “They are all so young, and she’s an older woman as well. He’s 24 and she’s 25. What has she got in life except for long hair?”
So, basically, Mather’s brand is uniformed nastiness—to her mind, a reflection of the “British public” she refers to. If so, this not only justifies the Sussexes attempts to distance themselves but explains why they were all smiles as they wrapped up their royal duties this past weekend in London, attending a bevy of events and even attending church with the queen (an indication that she may not feel as disrespected as Mather does on her behalf). On Monday, the couple even reunited with the Cambridges for the annual Commonwealth Day festivities.
As usual, Markle was the epitome of restrained chic, sporting predominantly female designers during her weekend of appearances, as reported by Page Six. But perhaps her best appearance of the lot was a pre-International Women’s Day surprise on Friday; a visit to a special school assembly at Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, England on Friday. There, Markle made student Aker Okoye’s day by giving him a hug after he accepted her invitation to join her on the dais, upon which he cheekily offered a compliment.
“She really is beautiful, innit,” the 16-year-old quipped, drawing cheers from his fellow schoolmates.
“It was the best day of my life so far,” Aker told The Sun on Monday, revealing that he’d since handwritten a note of apology to Prince Harry for any inappropriate behavior.
“I’ve written the letter to make sure Harry doesn’t have a problem with it and to say sorry really and that I hope he didn’t mind,” Aker explained, adding, “Meghan didn’t—she found it funny and I’m sure Harry will as well. When she asked which brave young man wanted to do a talk I jumped at the chance...I was overwhelmed to get the chance to speak in front of someone so famous and important. I just wanted to grab the opportunity.”
The note read, in part:
Dear Harry and Meghan. Harry, hope you don’t mind me writing this letter.
I hope you didn’t mind me cuddling your wife. I was just overwhelmed and shocked to see her arrive at my school.
It was a pleasure to hear her speech and to speak in front of her as well. She is truly inspirational...
Good luck for the future. With kind regards, Aker.
“I was starstruck,” Aker told The Sun. “Everyone at school was so thrilled that she was there...I’ve had so many messages from mates. They’re really pleased for me. To speak after someone like her was just a really great experience.”
Our takeaway? The “Markle Sparkle” lives on...and while haters like Mather gonna hate...the unlikeliest royal still has plenty of fans left in England.
Updated: Monday, 3/9/20 at 8:50 p.m, ET: In case it wasn’t made abundantly clear, Condé Nast—and Vanity Fair, in particular—want absolutely no parts of Mather’s shenanigans and hateration, as they sent the following message to The Glow Up following publication of this article (condensed for content):
As you mention, Ms. Mather has not written for VF since 2018, when she was removed from the masthead. She was misidentified by MSNBC on-air, which they corrected on Sunday morning during the same hour. She’s also since updated her social media accounts to reflect her current role as chief travel correspondent at Air Mail.