Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to step back as “senior” members of the royal family has drawn praise from many people on social media, with some calling out the British tabloid press’ pattern of racist coverage targeting the Duchess of Sussex.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on Wednesday via their official Sussex Royal account that they plan to carve out “a progressive new role within this institution.”
“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” the statement read.
The announcement sent shock waves around the globe, sparking wide-ranging reactions from people on social media.
“Good for Meghan and Harry opting out of the UK tabloids staggering racism and the lack of support from the royal family,” author Roxane Gay tweeted on Wednesday.
In 2016, Rachel Johnson, sister of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, grossly referred to Meghan, who was dating Harry at the time, as having “some rich and exotic DNA” in a column for the Daily Mail charging that the now-duchess was not “wife material.”
Rachel Johnson later labeled Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, “a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks who lives in LA.”
The Mail published an article that month suggesting that Los Angeles-born Meghan was “straight outta Compton,” in reference to a song by the ’80s hip-hop group N.W.A.
The publication noted in another article the month prior that Meghan, though “stunningly beautiful,” was not “the society blonde style of previous girlfriends” of Harry.
The Kensington Palace issued a statement on behalf of Harry that year condemning smears and “racial undertones of comment pieces” targeting Meghan. He also slammed “the outright sexism and racism” of social media trolls.
Shortly after Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in 2017, the Mail received criticism after it ran a piece with an accompanying tweet that read, “From slaves to royalty, Meghan Markle’s upwardly mobile family.”
In May, the BBC fired radio host Danny Baker after he tweeted an image of a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee, shortly after Harry and Meghan welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. He wrote in the since-deleted post’s caption: “Royal Baby leaves hospital.”
He later apologized, saying the “gag pic” was intended as a “joke about royals vs circus animals in posh clothes but interpreted as about monkeys & race, so rightly deleted,” The New York Times reported.
In September, “60 Minutes Australia” ran a #Megxit” segment on Meghan that featured far-right commentator Katie Hopkins — who has a history of spewing outright racist and xenophobic remarks — calling Meghan, a humanitarian, U.N. Women advocate and former actor, a “no one.”
Twitter users continued to commend Meghan and Harry’s decision, while calling out ongoing online racist attacks: