One of the bizarre new talking points in recent months is that the Duchess of Sussex’s treatment at the hands of the British press and royal family was nothing more than a “royal hazing.” As in, every girlfriend or wife of a prince faces a hazing process where the British tabloids make fun of you and everyone in Windsor-world trashes you too. While I don’t doubt that “royal hazing” exists and that several women have walked that particular gauntlet, I truly don’t think that was what Meghan went through. I think to refer to Meghan’s treatment as “hazing” minimizes the very real trauma she’s suffered for years, plus it draws some kind of false equivalency between “Kate being called Waity” and “Windsors telling Harry not to marry Meghan because their children’s skin would be too dark.” I bring this up because Christina Oxenberg – society writer and third cousin to King Charles III – has given an exclusive interview to the NY Post about how Meghan is treated versus how the other married-in women are treated. Some highlights:
The royal hazing: The British royals have a long history of hazing newcomers — particularly women who are dating family members — and only those who are “tough as nails” tend to survive, said a cousin of King Charles III. “To Meghan Markle, I say, ‘What you are going through is a hellish kind of hazing,’” said Christina Oxenberg, a descendant of Serbian royalty who counts King Charles III as a third cousin. “If she can just hang in there, someone else will come along who can take the heat. Nobody gets a pass.” Including, she added, Kate Middleton.
They hazed Kate: Oxenberg, who has lived among the British royals most of her life, recalled the snobbery once whispered behind the new Princess of Wales’ back. When Prince William, now the heir to the throne, was dating Middleton before their 2011 marriage, the royal family thought it pretty funny that the British press labeled her “Kate Middle Class,” Oxenberg said. According to the Express, Camilla — now the queen consort — allegedly referred to Middleton’s parents, Carole and Michael, as “Meet the Fockers.” “They thought it was all very funny — Kate Middle Class and Sarah Ferguson and Koo Stark,” Oxenberg said. “They meant no disrespect; after all, she is the future queen of England.”
Wait what?? Oxenberg herself admitted she was a former confidante of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is appealing a 20-year sentence following her conviction for helping to procure young women and girls for Epstein.
More hazing: Among the other now-royals who received their share of hazing, Oxenberg said, was Princess Michael of Kent, née Marie Christine von Reibnitz, a baroness of Czech-German lineage. When Prince Michael of Kent, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, married von Reibnitz in 1978, British royals delighted in giving her a hard time, Oxenberg told The Post. “She was treated the same way Meghan [has been] treated — with this mocking and lack of respect,” she said. “We always used to mock her because she kept referring to the royals as ‘delicious cousins.’ It [the hazing] was all done out of habit and not full of hatred and violent plotting. I was a witness.”
Oxenberg does think Meghan has had it worse: With Meghan, the hazing has been particularly brutal, according to Oxenberg. “They are tough, they are tough on foreigners,” she said. “It’s not about your skin color, it’s about being a foreigner.”
Treasonous: Still, she called Meghan’s treatment by both the British press — which is analyzing her every move, especially during Monday’s funeral of Queen Elizabeth — and some members of the royal family as nothing short of “treasonous.” “She is Harry’s choice of wife,” Oxenberg said. “By their own metrics they have called it a class system. They came up with that system, [by which] you have to respect Harry’s choice.”
Again, I don’t doubt that there is some kind of hazing process, although I doubt it’s being done as a conscious choice of “now we haze her.” It’s more of a knee-jerk ignorance and casual cruelty towards “outsiders.” Please remember, the royals would prefer to marry within their own family, and there’s a good dose of “why’d you have to fall for someone you’re not related to?” about this too. But, as I said, it was different with Meghan. One way in which it was significantly different is that it was the palaces publicly humiliating her and smearing her with lies. This wasn’t snickering behind her back at some garden party – it was a campaign of sustained public abuse with the intent to drive her either to suicide or divorce.
Besides all of that… even if it was *just* hazing, hazing still f–king sucks. This is supposed to be a family not a g–damn cult or fraternity.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, Backgrid.