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A Brief History of the Trope That Meghan Markle Didn’t Google the Royals Before She Married Harry

In 2014, Meghan Markle started a blog called The Tig, where she posted regularly about lifestyle topics and current events. Though she shut down the website in April 2017, six months after her relationship went public, the posts were preserved on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and occasionally tidbits will recirculate. On Wednesday, the Daily Mail brought back a 2014 entry she published referencing Prince William’s 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton, citing it as evidence that Meghan couldn’t have been telling the truth when she said she didn’t know much about the royals before she met Prince Harry.  

In the introduction to a blog entry where she interviewed Princess Alia Al Senussi, a descendent of Libyan royalty who works in the art world, Meghan mentioned that as a child she loved tough princesses like She-Ra from the ’80s cartoon, She-Ra: Princess of Power. She also mentioned that the idea of a “princess” still exerts power on adults too. “Grown women seem to retain this childhood fantasy,” she wrote. “Just look at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the royal wedding and endless conversation about Princess Kate.”

You might think that calling her future sister-in-law “Princess Kate” might be a sign that Meghan didn’t actually know too much about royal forms of address. (Until Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, her proper title was either Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Princess William of Wales.) But to the Mail, this “suggests that she not only knew exactly who the royals were—but that she’d also formed several very strong opinions about the Monarchy and its many traditions, years before she met her future husband.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey

Joe Pugliese

The idea that Meghan held “very strong opinions” about her future husband and his family originates in a statement Meghan made during the March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, when the duchess said that, as an American, she didn’t actually know too much about what joining the family would entail. “I didn’t do any research about what that would mean,” Meghan said. “I didn’t feel any need to, because everything I needed to know he was sharing with me. Everything we thought I needed to know, he was telling me.” 

In the Oprah interview, Meghan does mention Google a little later when talking about learning the words to the national anthem and the hymns she would need to know for a church service. “That’s me late at night, googling how…what’s the national…I’ve got to learn this,” she said. 

Somehow, within days, this turned into a widespread belief that Meghan didn’t google her husband. The Mail is not alone in returning to this line of attack against Meghan over the years, and last year Tina Brown told Kara Swisher she thought Meghan’s comment was “very disingenuous” and that she couldn’t understand it. “It would seem to me if that’s true, reprehensible, quite honestly,” she added. “Because it’s a serious thing to marry into that family.” 

It’s clear that Meghan knew who the most recognizable royals were before she met her husband, as we see from the blog post and footage, uncovered in the 2022 Netflix series Harry & Meghan, from a spring 2016 video where, when asked to choose between William and Harry, she chooses Harry. The issue here is exactly how much she knew before entering. For the British tabloids, the trope is an opportunity to accuse Meghan of being dishonest in a low-stakes, technical way, but it also reflects a broader disconnect between how British people see the royal family and the way the rest of the world does. For average Americans, the idea that someone might not know the intricacies of royal tradition or the names of extended family members isn’t too outlandish.

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