On Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle's Personal Essay in the New York Times



The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, happened to pen an opinion piece in the New York Times recently. And the primary message in it was the news about her miscarriage.


After reading the piece, it seems that her main objective was to drive home two points. One, that she and her husband had undergone a personal loss this year and wanted the entire world to know it. Two, that no one, including probably the British royalty, had asked her if she was ok. (The second point is accentuated by the apparent solitude in the lives of the Sussex royals, as highlighted by the "white walls" of the hospital, as well as her experiences during her South Africa tour with Prince Harry.)


The Duchess tied the personal news of her miscarriage with references to major events that shook the Western world this year: covid, death and sickness, required social distancing, political polarization, violence at protests, and division.


Some sentences particularly stood out:


"the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right" probably made her article the most relatable to others who may have experienced the same.


"I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."


One of the most well-written parts was probably this one:


"A young woman named Breonna Taylor goes to sleep, just as she’s done every night before, but she doesn’t live to see the morning because a police raid turns horribly wrong. George Floyd leaves a convenience store, not realizing he will take his last breath under the weight of someone’s knee, and in his final moments, calls out for his mom. Peaceful protests become violent. Health rapidly shifts to sickness. In places where there was once community, there is now division."


She touched base with each of the most thorny issues to have made the news, and put out her narrative by giving brief one-sentence summaries; summaries that largely conform with what the Left already says.


For an average newsreader, this summary or acknowledgement might not reveal any new information, but is still symbolic: racism is being condemned by a member of the British royal family, with agreement and support from Prince Harry.


The greatest service that the Duchess has done in writing this Op-Ed, however, is to make her readers read this simple, but alarming statistic: "in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage."


It is worth stating, however, that knowing this statistic alone may not help women deal with such losses any differently than they do now.


It might be worth also doing what the Duchess suggest: to ask people if they are ok.


In her article, the Duchess recalls having seen a woman crying out in the streets of New York and how she and her cab-driver had driven by, without asking if she was ok.


If inviting others to share their inner struggles seems like the best way forward to normalize all that is, indeed, normal among humans by stripping away the associated, unwarranted guilt, shame and embarrassment, then I wish that the Duchess had focused on making that argument more effectively.


By the time I finished reading the article, I understood all that the Duchess wanted to say. I could even see the reasonableness of her proposed solution, but as a reader I felt unconvinced of it being the best solution. I think I needed more from the article than it gave me. I needed to know more about 'why.'


Knowing that the Duchess went through what she did will undoubtedly empower some women. The fact that she shared a few personal stories, and the alarming statistic, might help a few more women. But I wish that the Duchess (and the New York Times staff involved in providing editorial assistance to Duchess during the preparation of this Op-Ed) had used the platform more effectively to help a lot more women than it maybe did.




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