Meghan Markle is being criticized for doing the same things that Kate Middleton is praised for, and a royal expert says it wouldn’t be happening if she were white

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex attract very different headlines.

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The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex attract very different headlines.
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Samir Hussein/Getty Images; Ruobing Su/Insider

  • Meghan Markle has been unfairly criticized for doing the same things her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, is praised for.
  • For instance, an October 2018 InStyle article accused the Duchess of Sussex of breaking “royal shoe protocol” for wearing wedges. Several months later, InStyle published another article praising the Duchess of Cambridge for wearing the same type of shoes, hailing them as “the most versatile shoes of the summer.”
  • When Markle’s bodyguard asked spectators at Wimbledon not to take photos of her, there was serious backlash. However, when Middleton’s bodyguard told fans the same thing during a recent shopping trip, she was praised for being “down to earth.”
  • These are hardly the only examples, though. Many gossip and news sites – Insider included – have reported on recent criticisms of the Duchess of Sussex.
  • Insider spoke with Kristen Meinzer, a royal commentator, who said Markle is an easy target because “she is not like the rest of the aristocracy.”
  • “I don’t think Meghan would be facing any of these double standards if she were white,” she said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ever since Meghan Markle became a member of the royal family in 2018, she has been unfairly criticized for doing the same things that Kate Middleton is praised for.

The most recent example of this was when both duchesses released high-profile TV interviews on the same day last month.

While Middleton was celebrated for speaking with CNN during her royal tour of Pakistan, royal correspondents across the globe said Markle broke protocol for releasing her own royal-tour interview at the same time as her sister-in-law’s visit.

Many gossip and news sites, Insider included, have reported on recent criticisms of the duchess.

Insider spoke with Kristen Meinzer, a royal commentator, who, with the help of a few examples, broke down the double standards Markle is subjected to – and gave her take on why it’s happening.

Markle was accused by InStyle of breaking royal protocol by wearing wedge shoes, but months later the publication praised Middleton for wearing them, describing them as ‘the most versatile shoes of the summer’

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InStyle.

“Meghan is subjected to double standards that are blatant in their intent to frame her as an ignorant, uncouth, and unfit for the aristocracy, much less the royal family,” Meinzer told Insider.

“When she wore wedge shoes during her tour of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands, headlines claimed ‘Meghan Markle Broke Royal Shoe Protocol at Bondi Beach.'”

The October 2018 InStyle article quoted a royal source in Vanity Fair as saying Queen Elizabeth II “isn’t a fan of wedged shoes.” There was no mention of this when another InStyle writer later covered Middleton wearing wedges.

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InStyle.

“Note when Kate wore almost identical wedge heels a few months later she was greeted with headlines claiming ‘Kate Middleton Just Proved That These Are the Most Versatile Shoes of the Summer,'” Meinzer said.

Meredith Corporation, the publishing company behind InStyle, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Middleton was described as glowing when she cradled her pregnant belly, while Markle was shamed for doing the same thing

“Naysayers insist that if the #Sussexes want to be treated with respect, they need to stop breaking protocol,” Meinzer tweeted.

“Example: ‘#MeghanMarkle was always cradling her baby bump – an act unbecoming of a royal.’ If that’s the case, why was it okay when Kate did it?”

While Markle was pregnant with her son, Archie, the press appeared to ignore that this is something Middleton had done throughout all three of her pregnancies.

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The Sun.

The above headline, from the British tabloid The Sun, quoted a critic who said Markle was seeking attention by holding her stomach. But the same publication described Middleton as glowing when she did the same thing while pregnant with Prince Louis two years earlier.

It’s worth noting that the publication itself is not entirely to blame for the double standard. In the piece about Markle, The Sun was reporting on a magazine editor’s comments about the duchess, while the one about Middleton was a news story.

However, that doesn’t mean the comments themselves are not partly to blame for the larger issue.

News UK declined to comment to Insider.

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The Sun.

According to Meinzer, these are just a few examples of seemingly false royal protocol imparted on Markle by the media.

“Over and over again, the press tears Meghan apart for crossing her legs, saying it’s a breach of protocol,” Meinzer told Insider. “But do a quick Google image search of ‘Queen crossing legs,’ ‘Camilla crossing legs,’ ‘Di crossing legs,’ etc., and you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of photos of royals at official events crossing their legs.”

Kate Middleton sitting with her legs crossed.

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Kate Middleton sitting with her legs crossed.
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Arthur Edwards/AFP via Getty Images.

Markle was criticized after her bodyguard asked fans not to take pictures of her at Wimbledon earlier this year, but Middleton was recently called ‘down to earth’ when she didn’t allow pictures

When Markle went to watch her friend Serena Williams play at Wimbledon in July, Markle’s security team approached some spectators and asked them not to take photos of the duchess.

“Sally Jones, 64, a media consultant sitting in the same row as the royal visitor, said that a man had tapped her on the shoulder and asked her not to use her phone to photograph the duchess, even though Ms. Jones said she had been zooming in on Serena Williams,” The Times reported.

Though Markle’s Wimbledon appearance was treated as a private visit and not an official royal engagement, people still criticized her for maintaining her privacy. A headline in the Express read: “‘Strongly theatrical air’ to Meghan’s Wimbledon visit – ‘fully enjoying role as A-lister.’

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The Express.

Like The Sun’s report, the Express report also quoted an external source: Judi James, a body-language expert.

Three months later, the Express reported on Middleton’s private Halloween shopping trip to Sainsbury’s with her children. They were accompanied by a bodyguard, who told visitors not to take photos.

Middleton’s Sainsbury’s visit got a far more positive response than Markle’s Wimbledon visit did.

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The Express.

“She was with Charlotte and George looking at Halloween outfits but her bodyguard was kind of watching people with phones and telling them no pictures,” an onlooker told the Express of Middleton.

“It was so lovely to see her doing normal stuff that you and I do,” the onlooker added. “It was so lovely to see her; she is always beautiful.”

She added that Middleton “just seemed so down to earth and beautiful as always.”

Reach PLC declined to comment to Insider.

‘I don’t think Meghan would be facing any of these double standards if she were white’

“Simply put, the press loves attacking Meghan because she is not like the rest of the aristocracy,” Meinzer said. “Unlike them, she’s an American, a self-made woman, and black.

“Unlike most of them, she has a history of working hard and being outspoken about the kinds of human rights that they’re afraid to touch for fear of sounding ‘controversial.'”

Another royal correspondent, Victoria Murphy, said Middleton was also criticized during her early years as a royal, albeit for different reasons.

Speaking on The Guardian’s “Today in Focus” podcast earlier this year, Murphy said Middleton was portrayed as “waiting around” to marry Prince William and become royal.

When asked by the host Anushka Asthana whether Middleton was “attacked” by the media in her early royal years, Murphy said: “At the beginning, you may remember this ‘waity Katie’ narrative that was attached to Kate – that she was just waiting around and that she didn’t have a career.

“You might remember the sort of stories that were done about her mother because of her previous employment as an air hostess, the whole sort of ‘wisteria sisters’ that was attached to Kate and Pippa because of their ability to ferociously socially climb.”

She added: “Sometimes we are in a moment in time and we feel that that is the only thing going on.”

However, Meinzer said she thinks this new wave of criticism toward Markle is due to more than just her being in the early stages of royal life.

“If anything, the press should be embracing Meghan,” she said. “After all, they’ve been critical in the past of the royals for being out of touch. But now that they have someone in the family who actually resembles them in terms of class and cause, they’ve chosen to turn on her.

“Why? I’m guessing it’s because their criticisms tap into the basest and ugliest bigotries in people – bigotries that certain people love to nurture and revel in and buy papers for.

“And I’m not alone. Holly Lynch and dozens of other MPs said this past week in an open letter to Meghan that the press’ treatment of her is rife with ‘outdated, colonial undertones.’ And Harry stated years ago more bluntly that their treatment is overtly racist and misogynistic,” she said.

This treatment is partly what led Markle and Harry to take legal action against the Mail on Sunday, a newspaper that earlier this year published excerpts from a private letter she wrote to her father.

Meinzer suggested that the criticism Markle has faced since becoming a royal spanned far outside the publications quoted in this story.

The duchess has been endlessly analyzed and criticized by people – whether a member of the public, a celebrity, or a royal expert – who simultaneously praise Middleton for doing the same things.

The first step to putting an end to this treatment of Markle is admitting the root of the issue, Meinzer said.

“In short, I don’t think Meghan would be facing any of these double standards if she were white,” she said.