Last week, the British Royal Family was dominating headlines following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah. Accusations of racism in the Royal Family and Meghan’s mistreatment by certain Royal Family members spurred think pieces and reactions that seem to threaten the centuries-long institution. The couple’s media appearance has pushed people and publications to take sides. No doubt, this was the purpose of such an interview. But the way in which opinions have divided about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle presents insights into how and why people side the way they do.
Our article analysis of two pieces (one from The Atlantic and the other from Politico) released in the aftermath of the bombshell Oprah interview tell a similar story: Meghan Markle is the undisputed center, and the Royal Family has been struck back on its heels. Looking at both articles’ entity word clouds, Meghan’s name is front and center (Harry’s makes a large appearance but nowhere near the size of his wife’s name). However, the largest entity in both articles is neutral. While Oprah’s CBS interview was meant to inspire sympathy, it seems that coverage of the interview itself hasn’t swept Meghan Markle in a positive wash. It has, however, shown that the Royal Family is not getting off as easy.
Mentions of The Firm, Prince Charles, and Buckingham Palace are negative entities in The Atlantic piece, but they aren’t the main focus of the article. In fact, they don’t even make Politico’s word cloud. Opinion is driven mostly by how you see Meghan Markle and her treatment. In the U.S. this has taken a decidedly partisan turm, with Fox News coming to the Royal Family’s defense. But this is more a response to liberal Hollywood (who Meghan has become closely identified with) than as full-throated support of the Royals. And even as liberal media is more empathetic to Meghan and Harry’s treatment, their complaints are harder to swallow when they are equally the picture of privilege.
One thing is for sure, both sides’ PR teams are getting a workout.
“File:Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Christmas Day 2017 (2).jpg” by Mark Jones is licensed under CC BY 2.0