Meghan Markle should leave those poor Nigerians alone

The Sussexes have travelled to Africa in search of victim points.

Joanna Williams

Joanna Williams

Topics Identity Politics World

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Meghan Markle returned ‘home’ last week. Not to her children and chickens in Montecito, California, but to Nigeria – a country where she has never lived, never before visited and has no known living relatives. And yet, accompanied by Prince Harry, on a royal tour in all but name, Meghan thanked Nigerians for ‘welcoming me home’.

It turns out that several years ago, the Duchess of Sussex took a genealogy test that gave her a breakdown of her ancestry. Apparently, she is 43 per cent Nigerian. For most people, this would be the basis of a fun anecdote and not much more. As Scientific American notes: ‘We all have thousands of ancestors, and our family trees become matted webs as we go back in time, which means that before long, our ancestors become everyone’s ancestors.’

Clearly there is something other than supposed familial ties that attracted Meghan and Harry to Nigeria. On this latest trip, the couple were treated like actual royalty for once, with red carpets, posh receptions and waving crowds. The plebs in Blighty might roll their eyes at Meghan’s overpriced jam business, but in Nigeria she was honoured with royal titles. She really is a princess, no matter what her critics say!

Perhaps the only thing more important to Meghan than being perceived as a princess is being perceived as a victim. ‘Being African American, part of it is not knowing so much about your lineage or background, where you come from specifically’, she declared during her Nigerian visit. What Meghan is driving at here is the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade. This uprooted millions of African men, women and children and made it impossible for those captured to maintain contact with their homeland or relatives. But for Montecito’s lifestyle queen to link herself to the barbaric history of slavery neatly overlooks her present privilege and fabulous wealth. Lucky Megs benefitted not just from her royal marriage, but also, presumably, from her parents going to great lengths to make sure their daughter could follow her ambitions. Now she chooses to play-act as the victim, rather than acknowledge the privilege her parents handed down to her.

The whole Nigerian not-royal tour has given us the kind of hilarious and toe-curling cringe we have come to expect from the Sussexes (even Harry has taken to referring to the Nigerian people as his ‘in-laws’). But their latest escapade is worth reflecting on for what it tells us about the current moment. It shows us that identity is no longer seen as something grounded in the reality of our existence and shaped through our daily endeavours. Rather, it is something we can uncover by spitting into a test tube. This is not a self we create, but a self we get sent via a lab report. ‘Family’ has similarly been redefined. It is not people we are related to, who we build relationships with through rough and smooth over the course of our lives. Instead, it is the complete strangers we meet one day and will likely never see again.

As far as Meghan is concerned, identity and family are defined as whatever is most convenient for her at the time. Meghan might call Nigeria ‘her country’, but she does not want to be a Nigerian in Nigeria, where she could no doubt lead a nice, if quiet, life. Instead, Meghan wants to be a Nigerian in California. Her relationship is not with the reality of Nigeria today, but with an imagined past. She wants the world to know she may be a princess, but she is also a victim.

If anyone is the victim here, it is the Nigerians. Harry and Meghan used the trip to announce that their Archewell Foundation would help fund school supplies and menstrual products in Nigeria. But seeing as Archewell was recently labelled ‘delinquent’ by the US charity regulator, can we really be sure Nigerians will benefit?

Worse still, Meghan and Harry brought their mental-health crusade and American-style therapy speak to Nigeria. Addressing a captive audience of schoolchildren, Harry asked:

‘If you see your friend in your class not smiling, what are you going to do? Are you going to check in with them? Are you going to ask them if they’re okay? It’s okay not to be okay.’

Megs, clearly impressed, swooned: ‘Do you see why I married him? He’s so smart!’

If Harry really had as many braincells as Meghan imagines, he would know that this kind of talk does far more harm than good. We see across the Western world that constantly asking children about their emotional states creates the very problems mental-health advocates claim to want to prevent. As Abigail Shrier points out in her excellent book, Bad Therapy, getting children to ‘play shrink’ and routinely ask each other how they are feeling pushes them to focus their attention inwards rather than out into the world. It is ‘already making young people sicker, sadder and more afraid to grow up’, she writes.

The last thing Nigeria needs is a victim princess and her clueless husband introducing the nation’s children to cod psychology. Nigeria’s leaders need to shut the door on Meghan, Harry and all that they represent.

Joanna Williams is a spiked columnist and author of How Woke Won. She is a visiting fellow at MCC Budapest.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics World


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