A Commonwealth Princess?

The Instrumentalisation of Meghan Markle’s Race to Construct Her Royal Persona


  • Jess Carniel University of Southern Queensland, Australia




race, colonialism, celebrity, royal persona


Prior to the Sussexes’ departure from their roles as senior royals, there was a significant attempt to construct for the Duchess of Sussex the persona of the “Commonwealth Princess”. There were two main purposes to this persona. The first was to use both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their popularity to leverage a more modern face to monarchy in the Commonwealth. The second purpose, stemming from this, was to maintain and strengthen contemporary relations with Commonwealth nations. Markle’s biracial identity was an important part of this strategy and persona as it became a means to connect to colonised people of colour.


Download data is not yet available.


Alexander, C & Byrne, B 2020, ‘Introduction’, in B Byrne et al (eds), Ethnicity, race and inequality in the UK: state of the nation, Policy Press, Bristol, pp.1–13.

Andrews, K 2017, ‘Fear of a Black Princess: Britain’s Royal Racial Problem’, 7 November, Ebony, accessed 30 November 2021, https://www.ebony.com/news/meaghan-markle-prince-harry/, accessed 30 November 2021.

—2021, ‘The post-racial princess: Delusions of racial progress and intersectional failures’, Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 84, p. 102432.

Barbour, S 2020, “Meghan Markle’s ‘The Tig’ Blog Is a Treasure Trove of Information About Her Personal Life”, Cosmopolitan, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/a20145547/meghan-markle-lifestyle-blog-tig-facts-photos/.Bell, A 2006, ‘Bifurcation or entanglement? Settler identity and biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand’, Continuum, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 253–268.

Bennett, J 2011, ‘Celebrity forum introduction: The royal wedding’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 353–354.

Bonilla-Silva, E 2015, ‘More than prejudice: Restatement, reflections, and new directions in critical race theory’, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 73–87.

Buggs, SG 2021, ‘Post-script–When post-racialism fails: Meghan Markle and the limits of symbolism’, in, Women’s Studies International Forum, Elsevier, p.102473.

CBS 2021, Oprah with Meghan and Harry, television program, CBS, 7 March.

Chaney, D 2001, ‘The Mediated Monarchy’ in D Morley and K Robins (eds), British Cultural Studies: Geography, Nationality and Identity, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 207– 220.

Connor, H ,2021, ‘Māori, monarchy and Meghan Markle: An indigenous perspective’, Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 86, May-June, pp. 1-7.

Davison, J 2020, ‘ ‘That was the master plan’: Why Harry and Meghan were going to California – just maybe not so soon’, 31 March, CBC, viewed 30 November 2021, https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/prince-harry-meghan-leave-canada-california-1.5515130.

Delgado, R, Stefancic, J & Harris, A 2017, Critical race theory: an introduction, New York University Press, New York.

Duboff, J 2017, ‘An Extremely Detailed Analysis of Meghan Markle’s Lifestyle Blog’, Vanity Fair Blogs, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/03/meghan-markle-tig-lifestyle-blog-analysis-prince-harry.

Ducey, K & Feagin, JR 2021, Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism: The Case of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family, Routledge.

Dunn, C 2018, “A speech delivered by Prince Harry at the Opening of the Youth Forum, Queen Elizabeth II Centre”, The Royal Family, 16 April, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.royal.uk/speech-delivered-prince-harry-opening-youth-forum-queen-elizabeth-ii-centre.

Elser, D 2021, ‘Old blog post casts doubt over one of Meghan’s claims during Oprah interview’, news.com.au, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/royals/old-blog-post-casts-doubt-over-one-of-meghans-claims-during-oprah-interview/news-story/5ecc4c47dedc3d40e0a0e91e8840e66f.

Evans, M & Reslen, E 2021, “A Definitive History of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Relationship”, Town & Country, 6 June, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a9664508/prince-harry-meghan-markle-relationship/.

Gay, D 2020, 5 signs Meghan Markle’s The Tig is coming back into our lives, Vogue Australia, 16 January, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.vogue.com.au/celebrity/royals/5-signs-meghan-markles-the-tig-is-coming-back-into-our-lives/image-gallery/0f85f0b240fea35f5cce637f874f0634.

Gilroy, P 2002, There ain’t no black in the Union Jack : the cultural politics of race and nation, Routledge.

Giorgio, A & Houkamau C, 2021, ‘Hybrid identities: Māori Italians challenging racism and the Māori/Pākehā binary’, Social Identities, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 20–43, doi:10.1080/13504630.2020.1814723.

Gonzales, E 2018, “Prince Harry Just Announced Meghan Markle’s New Royal Role and It’s Perfect For Her”, Harper’s BAZAAR, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a19830749/prince-harry-meghan-markle-commonwealth-leader/.

Grierson, J 2021, ‘Claim Prince Charles speculated on grandchildren’s skin colour “is fiction”’, 29 November, Guardian, viewed 30 November 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/29/claim-prince-charles-speculated-on-grandchildrens-skin-colour-is-fiction.

Hirsch, A 2018, “Why a Royal Meghan Markle Matters”, Time, 22 May, viewed 17 August 2021, https://time.com/5281096/meghan-markle-multicultural-britain/.

—2020, “Black Britons Know Why Meghan Markle Wants Out”, The New York Times, 9 January, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/opinion/sunday/meghan-markle-prince-harry.html.

Hirsch, A & Croft, C 2018, “The Meaning Of Meghan”, British Vogue, 18 May, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/meghan-markle-fashion.

ITV News 2019, Meghan reveals intense media spotlight has left her struggling to cope as a mum, ITV News, 18 October, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.itv.com/news/2019-10-18/meghan-prince-harry-tom-bradby-itv-african-journey-documentary.

Jorge, A 2020,‘Celebrity Bloggers and Vloggers’, in K Ross, I Bachmann, V Cardo, S Moorti & CM Scarcelli (eds), The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication, Wiley, pp. 1–7, viewed 3 June 2021, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781119429128.iegmc004.

Khanna, N 2011, ‘Ethnicity and race as “symbolic”: The use of ethnic and racial symbols in asserting a biracial identity’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 1049–1067.

Lammy, D 2018, “A beautiful service…”. Twitter, 19 May, https://twitter.com/DavidLammy/status/997809218655805440.

Lawler, S 2008, ‘The middle classes and their aristocratic others: Culture as nature in classification struggles’, Journal of Cultural Economy, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 245–261.

Logan, A, Hamilton, K, & Hewer, P 2013, ‘Re-fashioning Kate: the making of a celebrity princess brand’, Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 41, pp. 378-383.

Lynch, H 2019, “Women MPs from all political parties…”, Twitter, 29 October, viewed 17 August 2021, https://twitter.com/HollyLynch5/status/1189175248035483648?s=20.

Mackelden, A 2018, “Meghan Markle’s Wedding Veil Was a Sweet Surprise for Prince Harry”, Harper’s BAZAAR, 22 September, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a23376285/meghan-markle-wedding-veil-commonwealth-flowers-prince-harry-surprise/.

Maclaran P & Otnes CC 2020, ‘“We’ll Never be Royals”–or Will We? Exploring Meghan Markle’s Impact on the British Royal Family Brand’, Realms of Royalty: New Directions in Researching Contemporary European Monarchies, vol. 52, pp. 7-23.

Markle, M 2016a, “Meghan Markle for ELLE: ‘With Fame Comes Opportunity, But Also A Responsibility’”, ELLE, 8 November, viewed 17 August 2021, http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/elle-voices/articles/a32612/meghan-markle-fame-comes-responsibility/.

—2016b, “Meghan Markle: I’m More Than an ‘Other’”, ELLE, 22 December, viewed 11 August 2021, https://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/a40379/meghan-markle-im-more-than-an-other/. Originally published in print July 2015.

—2018, “Meghan Markle on Why ‘Being Enough’ Changed Everything – archive”, Darling Magazine, 6 November, viewed 17 August 2021, https://blog.darlingmagazine.org/meghan-markle-career/. Originally published in print May 2015.

Marshall, PD & Barbour, K 2015, ‘Making Intellectual Room for Persona Studies: A New Consciousness and a Shifted Perspective’, Persona Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, viewed 17 August 2021, https://ojs.deakin.edu.au/index.php/ps/article/view/464.

Marshall, PD, Moore, C & Barbour, K 2015, ‘Persona as method: exploring celebrity and the public self through persona studies’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 288–305, doi:10.1080/19392397.2015.1062649.

Marshall PD, Moore C, & Barbour K 2019, Persona studies : an introduction, Wiley Blackwell.

McLennan, R 2021, ‘A new wrinkle: Age, race and writing Meghan Markle’, Women’s Studies International Forum, Elsevier, p.102454.

McRae S 2017, ‘Get off my internets: How anti-fans deconstruct lifestyle bloggers’ authenticity work’, Persona Studies, vol. 3, no.1, pp. 13–27.

Meepos, J 2014, “Experience the World of Suits Star Meghan Markle’s New Lifestyle Site”, InStyle, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.instyle.com/news/experience-world-suits-star-meghan-markles-new-lifestyle-site-tig.

Meghji, A 2020, ‘Just what is critical race theory, and what is it doing in British sociology? From “BritCrit” to the racialized social system approach’, British Journal of Sociology, vol. 72, pp. 347–359.

Messer, L & Rothman, M 2017, “Full transcript of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement interview”, ABC News, 28 November, viewed 17 August 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/full-transcript-prince-harry-meghan-markles-engagement-interview/story?id=51415779.

Otnes, CC & Maclaran, P 2015, Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Pramaggiore, M & Kerrigan, P 2021, ‘Brand Royal: Meghan Markle, feuding families, and disruptive duchessing in Brexit era Britain’, Feminist Media Studies, pp. 1–21.

Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, n.d., “About”, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.queenscommonwealthtrust.org/about/.

Randell-Moon, H 2017, ‘Thieves like us: the British monarchy, celebrity, and settler colonialism’, Celebrity studies, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 393–408.

Repo, J & Yrjölä, R 2015, ‘“We’re all princesses now”: Sex, class, and neoliberal governmentality in the rise of middle-class monarchy’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 741–760.

Rojek, C 2001, Celebrity, Reaktion, London.

Sachdeva, M 2021, ‘Palace hits out at book identifying Prince Charles as “senior royal” who questioned Archie’s complexion’, 29 November, Independent, viewed 30 November 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/royal-family/prince-charles-meghan-markle-archie-complexion-b1965809.html, accessed 30 November 2021.

Samhan, J 2018, ‘Meghan Markle to attend Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings’ 2018, Royal Central, 28 January, viewed 17 August 2021, https://royalcentral.co.uk/uk/queen/meghan-markle-to-attend-commonwealth-heads-of-government-meetings-95303/.

Sibley, CG & Liu, JH 2007, ‘New Zealand = bicultural? Implicit and explicit associations between ethnicity and nationhood in the New Zealand context’, European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 1222–1243.

Sussex Royal, n.d., “Strengthening the Commonwealth”, The Official Website of The Duke & Duchess of Sussex, viewed 17 August 2021, https://sussexroyal.com/commonwealth/.

The Sun 2021, “Read the full transcript of Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah”, The Sun, 8 March, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/14277841/meghan-markle-oprah-interview-full-transcript/.

Townsend, SSM et al. 2012, ‘Being mixed: Who claims a biracial identity?’, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 91–96.

Turner, G 2004, Understanding Celebrity, SAGE Publications.

Vallance, A 2016, “A Statement by the Communications Secretary to Prince Harry”, The Royal Family, 8 November, viewed 17 August 2021, https://www.royal.uk/statement-communications-secretary-prince-harry.

Windsor, H 2019, “Statement by The Duke of Sussex”, Sussex Official, 1 October, viewed 5 August 2021, https://sussexofficial.uk/.

Yelin, H & Paule, M 2021, ‘“The best thing about having Meghan join the royal family is that she actually has Black in her”: Girls making meaning around Meghan Markle, the monarchy and meritocracy’, Women’s Studies International Forum, Elsevier, p.102456.






Themed Articles

How to Cite

A Commonwealth Princess? The Instrumentalisation of Meghan Markle’s Race to Construct Her Royal Persona. (2021). Persona Studies, 7(1), 33-47. https://doi.org/10.21153/psj2021vol7no1art1459