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While the internet was thrilled about the engagement of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, others have been attacking Markle’s ethnicity and questioning whether she is truly Black.
It was announced Monday that the two would be getting married in Spring 2018. Markle is biracial—her mother is Black and her father is white—which has been a nonstop social media discussion topic. In an interview, Markle said she was disheartened by the focus on her mixed-race heritage.
i see a "black enough" argument brewing over meghan markle and honestly pic.twitter.com/TzwVJyBR9w— wiggie smallz (@such_A_frknlady) November 27, 2017
Along with the focus on her ethnic and racial background, Markle has been hailed by some as the first Black British royal, even being called a “Black princess”—although her official title will not be “princess” once she and Prince Harry are married. But some Twitter users have questioned her Black identity.
I’m tired of so-called “blacks” claiming to be black like it’s an easy t shirt you can throw on. Meghan Markle is not black, she’s not. #MeghanMarkle— FR A$WAWN (@S_M_iscotten) November 28, 2017
Can someone please let me know what #MeghanMarkle is being referred to as "Black"...am I missing something?!— иια♈️ (@Niaevents) November 28, 2017
No but guys how is #MeghanMarkle black?— Thapelo Maraisane (@ThapeloTheGreat) November 28, 2017
#MeghanMarkle is black??? Omg I’m shook— ♥ (@Amellapalooza) November 28, 2017
Others are thrilled to see Markle joining the royal family and saying it is a proud moment for Black women and for the Black community.
So I've seen a black president of the United States, and now I'll see a black woman joining the British royal family. What a time to be alive.— Maya Earls (@MayaEarls) November 27, 2017
Congrats #MeghanMarkle and #PrinceHarry. https://t.co/N9hEhyvHZD
This is Meghan Markle with her mother. I don't want to see anything else about her not being Black. pic.twitter.com/WLoQi0sPIo— Gennette Cordova (@GNCordova) November 27, 2017
We got us a Black princess ya'll. You really can't tell me a damn thing for the rest of the day because it won't matter. Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/WmBnGm5AuZ— GirlTyler (@sheistyler) November 27, 2017
However, Markle may not be the first British royal with Black heritage. According to the Washington Post, Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, is suspected to be of African descent.
This focus on her race and ethnicity isn’t new to Markle. In a piece for Elle from 2015, Markle describes constantly struggling with her identity and explaining her ethnicity to others. She said every week of her life she gets asked, “What are you?”
“My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white,” Markle said she tells people when asked.
Markle described being in seventh grade and struggling to decide which box to check on a mandatory census. “You could only choose one, but that would be to choose one parent over the other,” she said. “I put down my pen. I left my identity blank—a question mark, an absolute incomplete—much like how I felt.”
The actress said she is considered to be ethnically ambiguous, making it difficult to land acting parts. “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough,” Markle wrote. “While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that.”
Brianna Stone is a reporter and digital producer. Her work has been published by the Austin American-Statesman, the Daily Dot, and USA Today.