The United Kingdom might still be torn on Brexit, but there is one issue that has bridged party lines; the media’s abuse of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex was condemned for its “outdated, colonial undertones” in an open letter signed by 72 female MPs of all political persuasions on Tuesday.
The letter, addressed to Meghan, read, in part:
As women MPs of all political persuasions, we wanted to express our solidarity with you in taking a stand against the often distasteful and misleading nature of the stories printed in our national newspapers concerning you, your character and your family.
On occasions, stories and headlines have represented an invasion of your privacy and have sought to cast aspersions about your character, without any good reason as far as we can see.
Even more concerning still, we are calling out what can only be described as outdated, colonial undertones to some of these stories. As women Members of Parliament from all backgrounds, we stand with you in saying it cannot be allowed to go unchallenged...
With this in mind, we expect the national media to have the integrity to know when a story is in the national interest, and when it is seeking to tear a woman down for no apparent reason. You have our assurances that we stand in solidarity with you on this. We will use the means at our disposal to ensure that our press accepr your right to privacy and show respect, and that their stories reflect the truth.
The move follows the Sussexes’ legal clap back at the British media; the couple filed a series of lawsuits against the press in early October, in addition to revelations of vulnerability in a short documentary filmed by ITV during the Sussexes’ recent tour of Africa.
Whether the multi-partisan support of Markle—who has been subject to both sexist and racist derision and speculation—will impact future coverage of the beleaguered duchess remains to be seen. But without a doubt, the gesture is unprecedented in British politics, and as the letter indicates, it seems some much-needed empathy was the impetus, as the MPs wrote:
“Although we find ourselves being women in public life in a very different way to you, we share an understanding of the abuse and intimidation which is now so often used as a means of disparaging women in the public office from getting on with very important work.”