Meghan Markle Has Made Some Controversial Decisions

Since being set up by a mutual friend and going on their first blind date in July 2016 to announcing their engagement in November 2017 and tying the knot in May 2018, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have had a whirlwind romance. But it's not just the speediness of their love that has caught the attention of the public and media alike — it's all the controversy that has increasingly plagued the couple. 

Even before Markle officially joined the royal family, she became the target of numerous scathing headlines and the critics certainly haven't eased up. Every decision the actress-turned-Duchess makes is scrutinized under a microscope and the verdict is usually the same: negative. Markle simply can't seem to do anything right, whether it's breaking royal protocol in the sartorial department or indulging in an over-the-top baby shower. It got to the point where it was claimed in November 2019 that Markle and Prince Harry would be taking a six-week break from royal life — but more on where this led below. 

Here are the most controversial decisions Meghan Markle has made so far. 

Meghan Markle shuns the palace's sartorial rules

When it comes to fashion, Meghan Markle keeps shunning sartorial rules normally applied to the royal family. It all started when she decided to go bare-legged during her engagement photo shoot and while royal expert Marlene Koenig told Harper's Bazaar, "There are no rules for royal women regarding pantyhose," fellow expert Victoria Arbiter had the opposite opinion. She told Express, "You never see a royal without their nude stockings. I would say that's really the only hard, steadfast rule in terms of what the Queen requires." 

Since then, Markle has broken so many fashion rules that, in July 2019, Glamour was able to create an 18-slide gallery titled, "All the Times Meghan Markle Broke Royal Protocol With Her Style." Just a few faux pas decisions included wearing dark nail polish (OK! claims that colored nail polish is considered "vulgar" in the royal household), donning a hat to Wimbledon (the event's official website states "ladies are asked not to wear hats"), and opting for a Givenchy gown on her wedding day and a Dior frock for her son's Christening (both French labels) rather than supporting a British designer. (Givenchy was actually headed by the Brit Claire Waight Keller, who designed the wedding gown, but most people didn't know that.)

Meghan Markle's wedding was a landmine of controversy

In 2018, Meghan Markle was painted as the ultimate Bridezilla. Her nuptials turned out to be a landmine of controversy and she was accused of petty behavior on multiple occasions. For example, the Daily Mail reported that Markle had asked for the historic St. George's Chapel to be outfitted with air fresheners because she found the smell too "musty." According to the outlet, the former actress wanted to use atomizers to freshen up the place and had the request quickly shut down by Buckingham Palace. A source told the paper, "Royal Household staff stepped in and told her office politely, but firmly, that this was the Queen's Chapel and it simply wasn't appropriate."

Markle's very public falling out with her father also took center-stage. Following a photo scandal in which it was revealed that he worked with paparazzi to stage a number of images of himself pretending to get ready for the wedding, he didn't attend the big day at all. Rather than being walked down the aisle by her dad, Markle asked Prince Charles to do the honors

Another eyebrow-raising moment was reported by The Sun, which claimed that Markle was reprimanded by a "furious" Kate Middleton, who told her future sister-in-law she needed to check her behavior towards staff. "That's unacceptable; they're my staff, and I speak to them," Middleton reportedly slammed. 

The Duchess of Sussex had an over-the-top baby shower

In February 2019, Meghan Markle jetted off to New York City for a top-secret — and very over-the-top — baby shower. According to Vanity Fair, the lavish do was organized (and paid for) by Serena Williams and cost a whopping $200,000. During the two-day affair, the mom-to-be visited the Met Breuer museum, had lunch at Surrey Hotel, and capped it all off with a big party at The Mark Hotel's $75,000 per night penthouse suite. Critics wasted no time calling out the hefty price tag, as well as the very American aspect of the bash. As royal commentator Victoria Arbiter told TODAY, "Customarily, the Brits don't do baby showers [...] We tend to give gifts after the baby is born." Embracing the US custom was "yet another way of her showing that she plans to do things her own way, royal or not," noted Vanity Fair. What's more, royals are funded by taxpayer dollars and so, as royals expert Victoria Arbiter told ABC News, a baby shower is "highly inappropriate" because the royals are "clearly very wealthy." 

Adding to the controversy was the fact that Markle was reportedly warned against going ahead with the outlandish affair. A source told Us Weekly that although the duchess wasn't reprimanded for her decision, "she was made aware that Kensington Palace and the royal family, that's not the way they do it with a big, flashy baby shower like the one she had in NYC." 

Meghan Markle pushed her dad away

In the ultimate case of he-said, she-said, Meghan Markle has painted her father, former Hollywood lighting director Thomas Markle, in a bad light, while he's slandered her name. Over the years, Thomas has taken issue with reportedly being unable to reach his daughter, with never meeting Prince Harry and the drama around their wedding and, more recently, with not receiving any photos of his grandson, Archie.

According to Thomas, Meghan has completely shut him out of her life and he wants the world to know. "Everyone raves about how gracious and wonderful they are, but they are not wonderful to their own family. That's hypocritical," he told The Mail on Sunday. While Meghan's friends have tried to defend her, telling People anonymously, "Her telephone number hasn't changed. He's never called; he's never texted," it's hard to deny their estranged relationship. 

In February 2019, Thomas allowed The Mail on Sunday to publish a five-page letter he received from his daughter to help prove his side of the story. In it, Meghan appears to shame her father and distance herself from him, writing, "Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces — not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this." She continued, "If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop. Please allow us to live our lives in peace." 

The Duchess of Sussex demanded privacy at Wimbledon

When Markle attended Wimbledon in July 2019 to cheer on her friend, Serena Williams, she enraged British media when she allegedly asked her security team to forbid fellow spectators from taking photos of her. Outlets across the UK had a field day with the news. The Telegraph's Allison Pearson wrote, "It's time Meghan was taught a well-known British phrase: 'Get over yourself, love'" while Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan called it "a complete joke" and noted (via Yahoo!), "It's frankly hypocritical and they're not private people, they're the Duke and Duchess of Sussex." 

Reporters didn't just take issue with Markle wanting to be treated like a private individual, however. As it turns out, the duchess' security detail reportedly harassed folks who weren't even paying attention to her. Media consultant Sally Jones revealed in a Telegraph article that she was "happily snapping shots of the superstar American powering down huge serves" when a security guard tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to stop taking photos of Markle. She argued, "No wonder there is a growing tide of resentment against the Sussexes for their secretive, high maintenance attitude and diva-ish demands for privacy when it suits them."  

The eyebrow-raising decision also had people questioning her ability to be a good royal. Tatum O'Neal told Good Morning Britain, "I wanted her to be the next Princess Diana and it seems like it's all about her and it's really upsetting me." She added, "To have a bodyguard muscle somebody out [...] is so tacky." 

The Duchess of Sussex didn't give her son a royal title

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their son's official name, they surprised royal watchers with one very important omission: the title of prince. As it turns out, Archie is in fact not a prince. Rather, he's a master (which is just "mister" but for children) and his full name is Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. So what gives? As Cosmopolitan explained, King George V actually restricted who could bear the title of Prince or Princess in 1917 and, technically, Archie doesn't qualify. However, as the outlet noted, an exception could have easily been made had the pair simply asked the Queen. For example, she offered to give Princess Anne's children royal titles, even though they didn't qualify by King George V's rules. 

Also interesting is the fact that Archie could have at least been dubbed an Earl (a title "loaned" from his father), but instead he got stuck with the title of Master — which anyone can use. It seems Markle and her husband made a conscious decision to not bestow a princely title on their first child. Was this bold move meant to signal a distance between themselves and the royal household? It's very possible.

Meghan Markle convinced Prince Harry to stop flying commercial

Just a few weeks after telling British Vogue they wouldn't have more than two kids for environmental reasons, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in hot water for their repeated use of private jets. It started when the couple and their newborn flew to France to visit Elton John on a private plane. John defended them on Twitter, noting the jet was his and that a contribution had been made to Carbon Footprint, but that wasn't enough to fend off critics. 

When it was revealed the pair had taken four private jets in 11 days in August 2019 alone, the media showed no mercy. According to Express, Prince Harry tried to justify the flights, saying, "I spend 99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial. Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity [to fly privately] based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe." Unfortunately for him, the Daily Mail was quick to note that six of the 10 trips he had taken since his wedding had been private — i.e. nowhere near 99 percent. 

As for Markle, she wasn't in the least bit phased and didn't bother to justify her choices. An insider told Vanity Fair, "She's moving on and riding above the storm. She's not wasting time or energy on the row over the private jets." 

Meghan Markle shocked the press with a major lawsuit

Rather than appeasing the media, Markle chose to alienate them further by filing a landmark lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday for publishing the now infamous letter she wrote to her father. According to Vanity Fair, the lawsuit cites copyright infringement and private information misuse and, as former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt put it, only worsens Markle's already strained relationship with the press. As he described it on Twitter, the lawsuit is "a sledgehammer to the symbiotic relationship once tolerated by the royals and the tabloids."  

What's more, Patrick Jephson, the late Princess Diana's former private secretary, told Vanity Fair it's likely to get messy. "This kind of litigation is easy to start, but nobody can predict the path it will take or the damage it may cause," he noted.

Making things even worse was the fact that Markle and her husband announced their decision during a South Africa trip, which caused the atmosphere between them and attending press to be "awkward and uncomfortable." It also took the spotlight away from the important issues. As ITV's royal editor Chris Ship revealed, "We had to drop our story last night on gender-based violence — an issue the duchess has been really keen to highlight — to talk about Harry and Meghan's relationship with the press."

The Duchess of Sussex agreed to guest-edit British Vogue

While Markle is by no means the first-ever royal to guest-edit a magazine (Prince Charles, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton have all done similar gigs), it seems that every single decision the Duchess of Sussex makes is steeped in controversy. Almost as soon as it was announced that Markle had agreed to guest-edit the September issue of British Vogue, critics took aim. The Sun, for one, accused her of "wading into politics by promoting Trump-hating celebs" while Piers Morgan wrote in The Daily Mail that "Me-Me-Meghan Markle's shamelessly hypocritical super-woke Vogue stunt proves she cares more about promoting herself than the Royal Family or Britain." 

Then there was The Times, which criticized her for highlighting individuals, like Laverne Cox, who are "associated with causes that are deeply divisive," and journalist Dan Wootton who called the decision "idiotic" and argued, "Remember Meghan doesn't want to be a celebrity, she says she wants to be a royal. Royals don't guest-edit magazines, celebrities guest-edit magazines."  

Meghan Markle chose celebrity friends over royal duties

Every year, the Queen travels to Scotland to spend the late summer at Balmoral Castle and, throughout her stay, she receives visits from the rest of the royal family. When she made the trip in 2019, Markle and Prince Harry declined her invitation to visit for the second year in a row. According to the Daily Mail's Jan Moir, this was a bold stance against tradition. She wrote, "It might seem extraordinary that Harry would not want to visit his 93-year-old grandmother with his new baby, a Balmoral rite of passage that is a staunch tradition within the family."  

An unnamed source tried to argue that the couple wasn't snubbing the Queen, but rather were simply too busy with work. "They were back having meetings at Kensington Palace from early August with just two short breaks in between and are busy preparing for their official trip to Africa which starts this month," the insider justified. However, the real reason seemed to have more to do with friendship preferences rather than an overbooked schedule. 

As it turns out, Markle found time in her busy schedule to fly to New York to watch friend Serena Williams play at the U.S. Open. As a royal source told Best Life, "Meghan has made it quite clear that cultivating her relationships with her celebrity friends is more important to her than fulfilling her role as a royal." 

The Duchess of Sussex 'breached royal protocol' by getting candid

In November 2019, Meghan Markle gave an extremely candid interview to The Telegraph in which she allowed reporter Bryony Gordon to follow her around for a day of charity work and told her "how vulnerability is one of humanity's greatest strengths." The Daily Beast dubbed the intimate exchange a "major breach of protocol," explaining that the royal family usually follows "a strict rule to never give one-on-one newspaper interviews."

That's not the only reason why Markle's choice was a strange one, however. As The Daily Beast pointed out, her messaging has never lined up with The Telegraph's. In fact, the paper has often dragged her, reporting that she and Prince Harry "may be suffering from 'Generational Difference,'" calling out their "need to decide whether they are cut out for Royalty," and even claiming that Markle is forcing Prince Harry to pick between her and his duty to the country, pleading, "Meghan, please don't force Harry to choose between you and us."

Meghan Markle getting emotional was a 'big mistake'

Making a habit of speaking candidly about their lives, Markle and her husband agreed to star in an ITV documentary called Meghan and Harry: An African Journey. In it, Markle let loose about the hardships of being a royal and life in the spotlight. Getting emotional, she revealed that "not many people have asked if I'm okay." She continued (via CBS News), "I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, but I think what that does internally is probably really damaging."

According to experts, agreeing to the documentary was not a smart move. Calling it a "big mistake," royal biographer Penny Junor told People why it could backfire. She explained, "The Royal Family has always in the past very successfully pursued this policy of keeping their head down and saying nothing. I think that is a dignified way of dealing with problems, but it's not the American way and that's the real problem." She concluded, "It's fine to speak to someone in private, a therapist, but don't spill your soul in public. I don't think it works."

Megxit blindsided the Palace

It turns out there's probably a reason Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were missing from the Queen's Christmas speech photos in late 2019. In early January 2020, the Sussexes announced on Instagram that they were stepping back from their "senior" roles within the royal family and becoming "financially independent." In other words, they were — sort of — quitting their own family. That's some big 2020 energy!

The unprecedented move reportedly blindsided Buckingham Palace, causing a "serious rift within the family," according to Vanity Fair. Though the couple allegedly had some "early talks" about their exit over Christmas break, nothing had been set in stone. Prince Charles, Prince William, and the Queen reportedly only found out that Megxit was a sealed deal when the news was revealed on social media. That's not to say the Sussexes are ditching their family for good. It'd pretty cruel to throw your brother, father, and grandmother to the curb. Instead, they plan to collaborate, but will no longer take money from the Sovereign Grant, which is a partially taxpayer-funded grant.

Per the couple's Instagram post, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan plan to launch a new charity while splitting their time between North America and the UK. While the Evening Standard reported that Queen Elizabeth II was pushing for a swift, "workable solution," people were already (quite unfairly) placing the blame on Markle for the couple's joint decision, according to Woman's Day.