Image Creator: Yinchen Niu
Harry & Meghan on Netflix was meant to be background noise. While I read about a legal case from the nineties for another blog post, my attention was diverted. During episode three I heard the word adoption. Any media that highlights an adopted person’s experience piques my interest! The adoptee interview on screen was Ashleigh Hale, Meghan Markle’s niece; a woman who looks to be close in age to the former royal. I quickly started punching buttons to begin the series over with full attention.
To review, the third episode focuses on the couple’s relationship with British tabloids, racism and conflict with Meghan’s family leading up to her royal wedding with Prince Harry. Producers more specifically weave in the story surrounding Meghan’s paternal side of the family and attempt to convey how things really went from the ex-duchess’ perspective. It is reasonable to conclude that their exit from the royal establishment will be covered in the last three episodes due out on December 15th.
To watch the official trailer: click here.
Media On Meghan Before The Netflix Series
Since Meghan began dating Harry in 2016, media coverage of the couple has generated a variety of opinions world-wide. A member of the British royal family connecting romantically with a biracial American actress didn’t seem to sit well and their story showed the world how far we have yet to evolve. Many negative opinions about the future princess were formulated from anecdotes shared by people who claimed to know Meghan intimately. She was constantly exposed to racism (even allegedly by royal family members), social media harassment, stalking by paparazzi and death threats. To make matters worse, her father and his oldest daughter (from his first partner) seemed to enjoy taking part in the frenzy. Samantha went as far as to pen a tell-all book “The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.” Regardless of what people think of Meghan, the whole charade was beyond hideous… it was dangerous.
Side-note: Prince Harry does address on Netflix wearing a Nazi uniform to a private gathering in 2005, apologizes by calling the incident “the worst mistake of my life” and reflects on “doing the work” to become anti-racist.
In the series, the former Duchess maintains that she barely has any connection to her half-sister, Samantha. She does however, have a strong connection with Samantha Markle’s two biological children, Ashleigh and Chris. The two had been adopted as very young children by their father’s parents. While they remained as “in-family” adoptees (aka kinship), they were still kept strangers to the other half of their bloodline.
Ashleigh is a seemingly well-adjusted immigration attorney who considers her paternal grandparents to be her true parents. She reconnected with her biological mother in 2007 and became close with Meghan via email. They became so close that when Ashleigh’s biological mother started slamming “Meg”, she terminated their reunion. Meghan’s relationship to Ashleigh was as an aunt, girlfriend and one that felt like big sister. She believed her niece was “craving” the same kind of connection as she desired as a pseudo only child. It would appear as though the former HRH kept her close relationship with adopted members of her family out of the media spotlight… until now.
In this episode, Ashleigh tearfully speaks about being left out of royal wedding festivities and how she feels Samantha’s behavior has taken away her relationship with Meghan. This exclusion came at the advice of the palace due to the optics surrounding her biological mother and her contributions to negative publicity. Thomas Markle was also not in attendance after choosing to sell stories about his daughter to the press weeks before the event. Meghan's royal wedding was attended by her mother Doria Ragland, but no other family members.
Meghan has made astronomical amounts of sacrifice in order to be a part of her now husband’s life. Eventually, he would do the same for her by leaving the British royal family and by moving to the United States.
To read more about Ashleigh’s role in Meghan’s life, click here.
Ashleigh’s brother Christopher did not appear in the docuseries.
While there is much to say about Meghan’s story, I can’t help but wonder how Ashleigh felt doing this interview and how she feels today. To be asked as an adopted person to denounce your biological mother on a platform like Netflix must have been difficult. Ashleigh sharing her story was ultimately the key to discrediting Samantha’s narrative for Meghan and Harry. I can’t imagine how dysregulating this whole experience must be for her.
Have you had relationships destroyed by biological family members? Have you had to walk away from either side of your family to protect your peace?
If you have any thoughts to share, or have already watched the first part of the series, please let me know in the comments below!
Well said! Kinship is way more complicated than people understand it to be. This was a great read Emily. I wasn’t going to watch the show….but now I just might😉
Great piece, Emily! I hadn't even caught that Ashleigh had been adopted, much less by her father's parents! Good catch!
It's really compassionate of you to think of how it must have been for Ashleigh to do that interview. I felt so bad for her as she explained, with obvious pain in her voice and facial expressions, why she hadn't been invited to the wedding. I mean, I guess it was her choice to do it, but maybe she was coerced by M.& H.? (Or shall we call them "H&M"? :-) ) As we adoptees know, it's so easy as adoptees to be coerced or pushed into doing things we don't want to do, even if we know it wll hurt or harm us.
Meghan has cut off her father, and since Samantha seems so much worse, even, than Meghan's father, Meghan probably considered it a small thing to have Ashleigh cut off her own mother for her sake. But that's manipulative and tone-deaf regarding adoption trauma.
I adored Lady Diana, and I must confess that consequently, I do follow the princes and the Royal family - all because of Diana, actually. I'm very fond of Harry, and am still trying to figure out Meghan, but was very happy to see her connecting with people throughout the global commonwealth who finaly saw themselves represented in the monarchy. I think Meghan's done an amazing job and has been very courageous. I'm sure that to mention she had been suicidal in the interview with Oprah took an enormous amount of bravery. Meghan is disarmingly honest and transparent. These qualities don't fit in with the monarchy's way of doing things at all. But I imagine they are a large part of the "pull" that drew and continues to draw Harry to her. Refreshing!