10 Times Meghan Markle Had Royal Critics Up In Arms With Her Behavior

Since the moment American actor Meghan Markle was thrust into the global spotlight when her romance with Prince Harry became public in 2016, she has become the center of controversy amongst royal watchers. Detractors viewed the "Suits" actor through a critical lens, with many recalling the days of Wallis Simpson, an opportunistic American divorcée who stole the heart of King Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne in 1936 amid worries from the palace that marrying a commoner would create a constitutional crisis. "In some respects, Meghan and the Duchess of Windsor [Simpson] have similar qualities: very narcissistic, very controlling, very dominating," claimed royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith (via The Telegraph).

Like Simpson, Markle was also a divorcée with no royal heritage, but as it turned out, her African-American lineage was also disconcerting to monarchists. "Meghan really became the face of the blame for 'destroying' something that the British public felt was so important to them," Liz Garbus, director of the 2022 "Harry & Meghan" docuseries on Netflix, posited to the Los Angeles Times. "And then [add] throwing every misogynistic and racist trope into that — as has historically been the way women have been positioned in these kinds of narratives."

As their relationship intensified, so did the scrutiny, right through their opulent fairytale wedding and their official split from the royal family. Regardless of where spectators stood regarding attitudes towards Markle, despite (or because of) her actions, she was certainly going to be called out for them.

Meghan Markle's wedding dress stirred up dissenters

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tied the knot two years after first publicizing their romance, the Mountbatten-Windsor clan made sure that the occasion would be the wedding of the year. The ceremony on May 19, 2018 at the chapel in Windsor Castle was loaded with pomp, pageantry, and gawking A-listers from Elton John to Victoria and David Beckham, but the couple made sure the event included a few unconventional twists. They tapped African-American Bishop Michael Bruce Curry to officiate the ceremony and included a rendition of Ben E. King's classic, "Stand By Me," sung by an all-Black choir.

But it was Markle's choice of bridal dress that caused ripples of disapproval. In her book, "My Mother and I," royal biographer Ingrid Seward wrote that a cousin of the queen claimed the monarch wasn't crazy about the gown. "Lady Elizabeth told me that the Queen had made only one remark to her about Meghan and Harry's wedding, which was that the bride's Givenchy wedding gown was 'too white,'" she claimed in an excerpt published by the Daily Mail.

To traditionalists, previously-divorced brides wearing white at their subsequent wedding can be considered scandalous. More contemporary critics were also disappointed over the gown, a silk number with flowers of Commonwealth nations adorning the 15-foot veil. Designer Katharine Polk noted (via Vox), "For a modern-day woman, I think everyone was expecting something a little more daring, so it was a bit of an anti-climax."

She allegedly bullied her staff

Months after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, her press secretary Jason Knauf circulated an internal Buckingham Palace memo that, in part, read, "I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year." It remained secret until The Times acquired the document it and published some of it in March 2021.

A spokesperson for the Sussex couple fired back, responding (via Today), "Let's just call this what it is — a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation." The results of a Buckingham Palace investigation into the matter have not been made public, although outlets long tried to uncover a number of employees, including Samantha Cohen — who previously worked with the queen for almost two decades before she quit her position as Markle's secretary — who left due to Markle's alleged bullying.

But when Cohen revealed in 2024 she was among several aides interviewed regarding those bullying claims, the pundits jumped in again. Royal pundit Hilary Fordwich, said (via Fox News), "There have been too many examples of the 'Sussex Survivors Club' for the allegations not to be true." More bluntly, Talk TV's Cristo Foufas retorted, "They probably whine at their staff as much as they whine to the British press, whine to the American press, and whine to everyone else about how terrible their lives are and how they're victims of every single terrible thing that ever happened in the world."

Meghan Markle was blamed for the royal split

Royal life didn't seem auspicious to Meghan Markle, then the Duchess of Sussex, married to Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. She was unnerved about her isolation in Frogmore Cottage and unflattering tabloid dispatches that included racist remarks about her background. Plus, amidst rumors of a percolating feud between the Sussex duo and the Cambridge clan, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Harry and Meghan opted to break away from the royal family.

"After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," the couple announced on Instagram. "We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen."

By February 2020, it became official that Harry and Meghan would no longer be working members of the royal family, and that they would live in the U.S. Conveniently, scribes quickly blamed the duchess. Royal insider Lady Colin Campbell told the Irish Independent, "Everything I hear is that Harry is completely beguiled by Meghan and completely enthralled to her and has changed considerably." Broadcaster Piers Morgan added on X, "People say I'm too critical of Meghan Markle — but she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William & has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case."

The infamous Oprah interview created a lot of backlash

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shared their side of the family-wide royal rift, dubbed Megxit, when they took part in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021. In it, Markle revealed how she struggled with adjusting to royal life, including isolation, which sometimes manifested into suicidal thoughts.

"I went to human resources and I said, 'I just really I need help,'" she said during the interview carried, which was aired in the U.K. by ITV News. "They said. 'My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there's nothing we can do to protect you because you're not a paid employee of the institution.'" The kicker was Markle's claim that one family member was concerned with Meghan's son Archie's skin tone. "In those months when I was pregnant, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born," said Markle.

Royal pundit Richard Fitzwilliams blasted the two, adding that the interview's timing, when the queen's husband was sick, didn't help matters. "This was a destructive attack on the monarchy and was broadcast when Prince Philip was so ill," he argued to Express. In the Daily Telegraph (per Newsweek), royal biographer Lady Antonia Fraser had harsh words for Markle, saying "I just wish vainly she'd shut up."

Meghan Markle smirked during the queen's funeral

Viewers of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 saw a very somber Meghan Markle during the ceremonies. However, a few camera images caught what appeared to be a smirk on her face at one point, causing hardcore monarchists go ballistic online. One staunch royal fan posted (via The News International), "The smirk. She couldn't care less. Even holding hands again walking out. No class. Even now disrespecting Queen Elizabeth, traditions and protocol. Just there for the big historic shots and to testify her right of peddling her title, her right to exist."

Admittedly, social media was all over the expression more than legacy media, who offered their own two pence worth on the Duchess of Sussex's presence at the funeral. On one occasion, she was seen wiping away tears, which wasn't enough to satisfy one cynical royal watcher. "The only person that Meghan I think at the moment is crying for is for herself. Certainly not for the Queen," said British writer and journalist Tom Bower on GBN.

During Fox News' coverage of the funeral, journalist Piers Morgan dumped on Markle and husband Prince Harry, saying "The last two years of the Queen's life were constantly having to deal with these two going public, attacking the royal family and the monarchy ... which affords them the ability to make all this money."

Meghan Markle mocked royal protocol in their Netflix series

Once the attacks on Meghan Markle's alleged smirk at Queen Elizabeth's funeral had subsided, her detractors got back into locked-and-loaded mode with the December 2022 release of the Netflix series, "Harry & Meghan." The first three segments of the six-part docuseries garnered 81.55 million hours of international viewership, the largest numbers ever for a documentary in its first week of availability on the streamer. Despite the stellar results, The Irish Times called it a "heartfelt and gloopy — and sometimes unwatchable — plunge into Planet Sussex," while The Guardian dismissed it as "very much a one-sided PR effort, with no critical or dissenting voices." 

Others targeted Markle for her part in the endeavor and even mocked the duchess when the documentary captured her difficulties in transitioning to royal protocol. Sky News Australia's Rita Panahi particularly trashed one scene with Harry watching Meghan recreate her dramatically overdone curtsey to the queen. "But at the end of the day, he sat there and grinned like an idiot as she pretends that, 'Oh, I had no idea meeting the queen was a big deal and I had to curtsey, oh my God,'" retorted Panahi. "And I just find the whole thing utterly reprehensible."

"Did Meghan really think it was 'a joke' that she had to curtsy to the Queen of England? It might be an outdated request, but it surely can't have been an unexpected one. 'Like, what's a walkabout?' she says of her first public appearance," wrote Jessie Thompson in the Independent

She came under fire for launching a new website

In February 2024, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry took their rebranding as royal independents another step further when they unveiled their new website, sussex.com, which replaced their old virtual home at sussexroyal.com with a pledge to use their business and philanthropy dealings towards helping create a better future. Markle raved over the aesthetics of the new project, in particular the classiness and attention to detail of the site, built by the Canadian designers, Article. "They're not just designers," she previously raved (via Hello!) about the site's creators. "They are collaborators who elevate your ideas into visual identities. They're a very special company. Plus they're Canadian, so I'm a fan."

But critics were livid at Meghan and Harry over the use of the Sussex coat of arms and their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles on the splash page, declaring they had given up several regal distinctions in 2020. "They are going to have real trouble with the use of Sussex," said one source to the Daily Mail. "It is a royal title and if there is any hint of commercialism about this it will be shut down. It's just staggering they cannot see how gauche it is."

Officially, the couple still retains their Sussex titles, although they can no longer be addressed as His (and Her) Royal Highness. That didn't stop social media wags from dumping on Markle over her continued use of her title, with one detractor on TikTok (via Newsweek) stating, "The egotistical one bigging herself up."

She was branded a hypocrite during her product launch

In an effort to become more financially independent – a pledge Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made during their departure from the royal family – Markle announced in April 2024 the launch of American Riviera Orchard, a product line that included everything from jams and jellies to kitchen accessories and cosmetics. 

While the company received some kudos from a few lifestyle scribes, reactions from royal watchers in print media were subdued at best. "The one fly in the ointment is Meghan's new internet brand, America Riviera Orchard," said royal pundit Tom Quinn to the Daily Record. "Meghan was in tears when the brand launched and her new jam was widely mocked for being expensive and nothing special. She has reached the point now where she thinks that anything and everything she does will be unfairly criticized."

Netflix also announced in April 2024 plans for Markle to host a more homemaking and friendship-oriented lifestyle series. "This, from a woman who has dumped most of her pre-Harry friends as well as her entire family [apart from mum Doria] while also luring Harry away from his old friends," declared British scribe Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail. Markle's entrepreneurial drive has also reportedly upset Martha Stewart. "She's tired of being quizzed by people over how she feels about Meghan's venture," said an unidentified source to In Touch about Stewart's reaction. "Because, honestly, it's irritating and insulting to her that she's being compared to a rookie!"

Meghan Markle was sniped for snubbing the U.K.

Since her public debut as Prince Harry's love interest, Meghan Markle has been pilloried by staunch royal observers and the media for her actions and perspectives. But one event that seemed to especially demonstrate how the Brits felt about her was in June 2022 when a crowd booed her after a Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen at St. Paul's Cathedral.

It was little wonder why the Duchess of Sussex later revealed she wouldn't join her husband at that same venue in May 2024, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, a sports extravaganza he founded for veterans wounded in battle. Daily Mail reporter Richard Eden seemed fine with Markle's decision. "What's evident is that she does not want to return to Britain in a hurry," he said on "Palace Confidential." "There's many people here that won't be sad about that."

Far more critical was one unimpressed Buckingham Palace aide. "It strikes me as odd that she doesn't have time to come to England where, however she feels about them, she does have family," the aide noted (via Express). "But she does have time to join Harry in Africa. I think that speaks volumes." Royal broadcaster Helena Chard on GBN criticized, "She's making it more than clear that she doesn't want to set foot in the [U.K.], to do with lots of things, but I think actually because she doesn't want to."

She failed to impress people in Nigeria

Meghan Markle was likely reticent about visiting the U.K. with her husband Prince Harry, but she was thrilled to join him in Nigeria just days later. Much of that exhilaration had to do with her revealing on a 2022 episode of her podcast, "Archetypes," that a genealogy test showed she was 43% Nigerian. The trip was to promote mental health efforts and to spread the word about the Invictus Games, although Markle seemed to treat it like a homecoming. "I want to start by saying thank you very much for just how gracious you've all been in welcoming my husband and I to this country... my country," she said at an event (via The Mirror).

Royal biographer Angela Levin was appalled over how Markle conducted herself in Nigeria, especially when she showed up at a school in a backless dress. "If she'd been going representing the royal family... she wouldn't wear anything like that," Levin said on GBN. "But she should know it's common sense that you don't try and make people angry or embarrass them or flash your body in those sort of circumstances. I thought it was absolutely appalling." 

Some media outlets, like the New York Post even falsely claimed that Nigeria's First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu, gave a speech, concerned over how Meghan's attire affected the schoolchildren. But, in fact, the first lady came out to dispel any confusion, clarifying that she was talking about American culture in general and her words were taken out of context.