FEMALE MPs who yesterday (October 29) published an open letter to express their “solidarity” with Meghan Markle have been criticised over their failure to address how racism has shaped some of the negative coverage she has been subjected to.
The cross-party group of 72 MPs, which include Diane Abbott, Holly Lynch and Tracey Crouch, called out sections of the British media for publishing articles of an “often distasteful and misleading nature” with “colonial undertones” but stopped short of deeming the coverage racist.
The letter, which is addressed to the duchess, states: “On occasions, stories and headlines have represented an invasion of your privacy and have sought to cast aspersions about your character, without any good reason as far as we can see.”
It adds: “We are calling out what can only be described as outdated, colonial undertones to some of these stories.”
The language used in the letter has been criticised by those who say it sidesteps the role racism has played in the negative way the former actress has been treated by a some outlets.
“‘Colonial undertones’ is a very novel way of making racism sound like a cabernet sauvignon,” Black Girl Fest co-founder Paula Akpan wrote on Twitter.
One commenter said: “Just call it racism without the quotes. And not ‘outdated, colonial undertones’.”
“They are trying to polish racism as ‘colonial undertones’ yet colonialism is a part of the same evil,” another said.
“‘Colonial undertones’ is code for ‘in Britain, our racism is covert’,” another commenter said on Twitter.
In addition to publicising its solidarity, the group of MPs states that it will “use the means at our disposal” to ensure that the press accept the duchess’s right to privacy, show respect and publish stories that reflect the truth.
This evening, Lynch told ITV News that she received a phone call from the duchess thanking her for the letter.
The MPs’ statement of solidarity comes weeks after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would be taking legal action against the Mail on Sunday over its publication of the contents of a private letter that the duchess wrote to her father.
In a statement explaining the decision at the beginning of October, Prince Harry opened up about the impact what he called the British tabloid media’s “disturbing pattern of behaviour” had had on him.
“Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces,” he said.