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Trevor Engelson’s uncle hits back at claim Meghan Markle’s first husband couldn’t cope with her fame

Of all the unanswered questions about the Duchess of Sussex’s past, perhaps the most intriguing is: why did she divorce her first husband, Trevor Engelson?

He was the hustling film producer with the never-say-die attitude who used every setback in his career — and hers — as a spur to overcome the next challenge.

But after seven years as inseparable boyfriend and girlfriend, then just 23 months of marriage, they split up.

Ever since, it has suited them both to draw a discreet veil over the reasons for their parting. They had new lives and new partners and neither had any wish to dig up the past.

Meghan Markle and film producer Trevor Engelson enjoyed seven years as inseparable boyfriend and girlfriend, then just 23 months of marriage before they separated and both have been discrete about the reasons why since the split with both remarrying and moving on

Meghan Markle and film producer Trevor Engelson enjoyed seven years as inseparable boyfriend and girlfriend, then just 23 months of marriage before they separated and both have been discrete about the reasons why since the split with both remarrying and moving on

For Hollywood producer Engelson, who did so much to propel Meghan to the acting stardom she craved, the incentive to tell must have been greater. Here, after all, was the man who really knew what made the girl who married the Queen’s grandson tick.

Yet despite every inducement, he has gallantly remained silent about the split.

But the publication of Finding Freedom, the controversial — and one-sided — new book about Meghan and Prince Harry, risks changing that.

For amid all the feuding and petty scoresettling with the Royal Family, courtiers and the media, it offers the first insight into Meghan’s view of her earlier marriage and the husband she wed in a romantic oceanside ceremony in Jamaica. And the narrative it presents is brutal and unsavoury.

Trevor, who had been her mentor and soulmate and to whom she had clung as his fortunes rose and hers just bumped along, is portrayed as envious and resentful of her success.

We learn that while they were still dating, Meghan had wondered aloud to her closest friends why ‘Trevor didn’t always act as if he supported her acting career’.

If this was indeed so, one is tempted to ask why she not only stayed with such an unenthusiastic partner but went on to marry him.

Helpfully, there is a ‘friend’ on hand to explain Meghan’s thinking. Apparently, it was all about Trevor being the ‘breadwinner’ on whom Meghan depended for introductions and connections in the film business. But their marriage coincided with her big break as paralegal Rachel in the hit TV series Suits.

‘Suddenly the dynamic was changing,’ the ‘friend’ is quoted as saying, ‘and he [Engelson] didn’t like that.’

Up until then, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand suggest, Trevor was ‘the dominant character’ and Meghan felt he liked her being dependent on him.

This jealousy, the book implies, hastened the breakdown of their relationship. When Trevor was invited to the 2013 Oscars, he went alone. According to the book, he explained it was because he had only one ticket.

That didn’t cut it with Meghan, who, the authors suggest, ‘wondered if he didn’t want to share the spotlight’. Which echoes how Meghan and Harry feel they have been treated by the royals and a Palace establishment that couldn’t cope with their megawatt stardom.

In their eyes, so great was the Sussex roadshow and their soaring popularity, they risked overshadowing the rest of the Queen’s family and therefore represented an existential threat to the wellbeing of the monarchy. Thus they were sidelined, hence Megxit. Or so they have suggested.

But with this argument already unravelling, what should we make of Meghan’s claims about her first marriage?

Finding Freedom, the unofficial biography of Harry and Meghan, was released earlier this week

Finding Freedom, the unofficial biography of Harry and Meghan, was released earlier this week

Just how accurate is this inside view of a couple who even the authors of Finding Freedom — written, remember, with the apparent co-operation of the Duke and Duchess — acknowledge had appeared ‘deliriously in love’?

And is it really true Trevor Engelson was eaten up with envy provoked by Meghan’s success?

Those close to Trevor have a different recollection of events.

Engelson’s uncle, Mickey-Miles Felton, a lacrosse coach from Arizona, is in regular contact with his nephew. ‘Trevor is too good a person to have these kind of thoughts,’ he told the Mail this week. ‘That is not even close to who he is.’

Instead, Mr Felton suggests, the reasons for the divorce given in the book are an attempt to sanitise the reputation of someone ‘who did something wrong and needs to make themselves look good’.

Like everyone else, his nephew was not without faults, he says, but adds: ‘He is not the kind of person who would be jealous of somebody else’s success.

‘He has made successes out of a lot of people who have worked for him. So, I think the word you use in England for this claim would be “rubbish”. We would say “trash”.

‘To me it’s an absurd notion. Whether that makes me naive or not, I don’t know. But in all the years I’ve talked to him, I’ve never heard anything like that.’

Mr Felton added that, as Trevor was in a position to help Meghan when she was an unknown actress, he would have done everything he could to further her career.

‘Wouldn’t you want to help people you are totally in love with? He was just happy for her success. Just thrilled.

‘I’ll tell you something: Trevor has excellent self-esteem. He knows who he is and where he’s going, and he’s not going to be intimidated by his wife’s success.’

A browse through Engelson’s Facebook page reveals that, far from being jealous of Meghan’s career and her breakthrough role, he was clearly proud of it.

When news of her casting in Suits reached the movie-business trade press in 2010, Engelson was quick to share it, re-posting the Hollywood Reporter’s headline ‘Meghan Markle books lead role on Legal Mind’ (the original working title for Suits).

A year later, when the show was about to screen in June 2011, he expressed delight for his ‘bad-ass fiancée’, adding a month later: ‘Suits tonight on USA …my girl rocks!’

He even noted the show’s ratings, ‘liking’ an update that said ‘Suits rises’. When the second series was confirmed in August 2011 — just weeks before Meghan and Trevor were married — Engelson posted: ‘So proud of my girl! Season 2 for Suits! Too cool!’

So perhaps the ‘jealousy’ began after the couple’s wedding, at which they exchanged vows at sunset in the grounds of the luxurious Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios.

But, again, look at the evidence offered by Engelson’s social media page. On January 23, 2013, he posted: ‘Watch Suits tonight … so proud of my amazing wife.’

Yet within a few weeks of this loving endorsement, the marriage was over. The decision to end it was Meghan’s and to Trevor it came ‘totally out of the blue’.

Engelson went from cherishing Meghan to feeling ‘like he was a piece of something stuck to the bottom of her shoe’, was how one chum put it after news broke of her romance with Prince Harry.

Meghan Markle played Rachel Zane in the legal drama Suits between 2011 and 2017 (file photo)

Meghan Markle played Rachel Zane in the legal drama Suits between 2011 and 2017 (file photo)

Finding Freedom offers no further explanation for what happened, apart from the breezy observation that Meghan living in Toronto, Canada, where the cable show was filmed, ‘accelerated the decline of their relationship’.

The book suggests she and Trevor made every effort to spend time together at first, but as the months went by ‘the visits became less frequent’. The end, apparently, was inevitable.

The authors claim Meghan never lost faith ‘that she’d find the one — even if the first time she decided who he was, she’d been wrong’.

Single in Toronto, it wasn’t long before she found love again. She began seeing celebrity chef Cory Vitiello, at the time the city’s ‘No 1 bachelor’. They began dating not long after her divorce from Engelson — citing irreconcilable differences — was finalised.

Soon, Meghan began to acquire some high-powered friends — notably Jessica Mulroney, daughter-in-law of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of current PM Justin Trudeau.

She also joined members’ club Soho House, which had an outpost in Toronto, and became firm friends with its global membership director, Markus Anderson.

She and Vitiello moved into a townhouse in a backstreet, where she lived under the name Meghan Engelson. It was far more modest than the £11 million mansion she and Harry have just bought in Santa Barbara, California.

All the same, this new life was a far cry from the one she had enjoyed with Trevor.

How different it all was when a callow 23-year-old actress not long out of theatre school met the ruggedly good-looking Engelson, five years her senior and making his mark as a film producer and agent.

He was her Svengali, a smart, confident, shoot-from-the-lip New Yorker. And she adored him. As for Trevor, he boasted to his old East Coast friends that he had bagged ‘the hottest chick in California’.

They met in a dive bar in West Hollywood and it wasn’t long before they were living together in a cosy yellow-painted bungalow not far from Sunset Strip.

Meghan was soon adopting her boyfriend’s jaunty one-liners — ‘Don’t give it five minutes if you’re not gonna give it five years,’ was one. Another was, apparently, his opening chat-up line to her: ‘Hope is the greatest currency we have in this business.’

According to Finding Freedom, Meghan was puzzled as to why Trevor didn’t do more to support her career.

Yet he did find roles for her in two films, a short mystery thriller called The Candidate and then a small role in the box-office hit Remember Me, with Twilight star Robert Pattinson.

When it opened in March 2010, Trevor was promoting it on Facebook with a salty phrase. ‘If you don’t see Remember Me . . . this weekend, you’re f****** defriended,’ he declared.

By then, Meghan and the man she called Trevity Trev-Trev were moving towards matrimony.

The ceremony was a lively, rum-fuelled affair remembered chiefly for Meghan’s appearance in a yellow polka-dot bikini and the small bags of cannabis her father Thomas later claimed were offered as a welcome gift to guests.

But in less than two years, Meghan and Trevor had split up.

The ending was abrupt. According to royal biographer Andrew Morton, Meghan sent her wedding and engagement rings back to her husband by post.

Trevor has, so far, said nothing about this version of what remains one of the most heartbreaking episodes in his life. At the time he was grievously hurt and his eyes blazed with anger whenever Meghan’s name was mentioned.

But seven years on, Engelson appears to have put this sad chapter behind him.

Although the Covid pandemic is playing havoc with the schedules of his film and production company, this is a summer of great excitement for him.

Trevor Engelson has since remarried to nutrionist Tracey Kurland and the couple are expecting

Trevor Engelson has since remarried to nutrionist Tracey Kurland and the couple are expecting

Some time during the next few weeks, his second wife, nutritionist Tracey Kurland, is due to have their first baby.

His parents — David, a retired dentist, and Leslie, a speech therapist — will travel from their home in Great Neck, New York, where their son grew up, to help look after the infant.

According to uncle Mickey-Miles, Engelson, 43, has been longing to become a father. As he devoted a decade to Meghan, steering her career, only to find himself dumped when she attained it, many would say his joy will be well deserved.

As for this latest evaluation of his nephew’s first marriage, uncle Mickey-Miles says: ‘It sounds like this book — which I hadn’t even heard about until you called me, and which nobody over here cares about — is rubbish.’

Of the authors, he adds: ‘Who the hell are these people? Who gives a c**p what they say?’

Trevor, he insists, has never mentioned it to him and would have no interest in its contents.

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Meghan Markle’s five pals who gave explosive interview to People mag could be named TODAY in High Court battle

MEGHAN Markle’s five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine could be named TODAY in a High Court battle.

The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after a “private” letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle was revealed.

⚠️ Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.

Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged father


Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged fatherCredit: AFP or licensors

But the publisher has argued that the existence of the letter had been discussed in an anonymous interview given by five of the former actress’ pals to People Magazine.

Meghan’s lawyers last week applied for the duchess’ friends to remain anonymous as part of the proceedings – something the paper’s legal team has opposed.

The 39-year-old says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.

In the article published by People in February of last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.

In a written submission to the court, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said it would be “cruel irony” for the friends to be identified in the privacy case.

However, Antony White QC, acting for ANL, said the unnamed friends are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.

“Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.

“No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”

Mr Justice Warby is due to deliver his ruling on the duchess’s application at 10.30am today.

Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her wedding


Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her weddingCredit: Splash News
Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the couple


Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the coupleCredit: PA:Press Association
The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle


The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, won the first skirmish in the legal action on May 1, when Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim.

This included allegations that the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.

Court papers have since shown Meghan has agreed to pay ANL’s £67,888 costs for that hearing in full.

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.

The headline on the article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”

The duchess is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

Meghan and Harry now live in the US


Meghan and Harry now live in the USCredit: Getty Images
Meghan Markle turns 39: Her year in review

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Meghan Markle Won’t Destroy The Royals — But They Might Do It Themselves

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, exits a hotel in New York City, Feb. 19, 2019.

It was a declaration of independence that left the royal family reeling. On January 8, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, posted on Instagram about their plans to relinquish their positions as “senior” members of the British royal family, split their time between North America and the UK, and establish financial independence. The suddenness of the announcement was surprising — it was reportedly released in a rush to beat a potential leak to the press, and seemed to catch Buckingham Palace unprepared — but the move itself was not entirely unexpected, particularly to those who’ve been following the young couple’s saga in dealing with the (often racist and sexist) media coverage of Meghan.

While Queen Elizabeth has since said in a statement on Monday that she’s “entirely supportive” of Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision, she also made clear, with unusually personal language, that she “would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family.” Their departure is a loss to the Windsor family during a turbulent time (see: Brexit, the scandal of Prince Andrew’s friendship with and defense of Jeffrey Epstein, and the Duke of Edinburgh’s waning health), as well as to the monarchy as an institution. After all, Harry is the second-most popular royal, after the 93-year-old Queen. Meanwhile, as the lone woman of color to ever be a senior royal in modern society, Meghan Markle has become something of a global icon herself.

And yet, while Meghan enjoys worldwide popularity, the British press has been consistently, intensely critical of her. The “Megxit” narrative has been an occasion to recycle a lot of the same labels and accusations it has already deployed: that she is ungrateful and selfish for breaking up the royal family.

It’s worth keeping things in perspective, however. The Sussexes haven’t renounced the royal family on an ideological level (their website details the couple’s plans to continue to serve the monarchy and strengthen the Commonwealth). The move to be financially independent from the Sovereign Grant, which opens up the possibility of Harry and Meghan earning incomes in other careers, could raise questions (Might this be an option for more royal family members, particularly those far down the line in succession?). But it’s unlikely to have immediate, ruinous effects on an institution that has always had a knack for durability. As Peter Morgan, creator of The Crown, once described the British royals: “They’re survival organisms, like a mutating virus.”

At this rate, it seems more likely that if anything is to destroy the monarchy, it will be the British royals themselves. It is a tenacious institution. But by not enforcing or understanding the need to protect Meghan from vicious, racist press coverage in a more deliberate way, they are losing her and what she had to offer: a new, modern, more progressive image to associate with the monarchy — a brand that is ultimately rooted in appearances.

Daniel Leal-Olivas / Getty Images

Meghan reacts during a visit to Canada House in London with thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support she had received in Canada recently, Jan. 7.

Meghan Markle has been accused of destroying her husband’s life and painted as a palace-wrecker who’s putting the future of the monarchy — particularly post–Queen Elizabeth — in peril. (Granted, some of these declarations are made gleefully by anti-monarchists, wanting to burn it all down.) She’s also been called a modern-day Yoko Ono on social media, a comparison that stirs up some interesting connotations.

These tweets have primarily been made in jest, some affectionate and some less so. But other likenings have been less lighthearted, with one tweet claiming that, like Ono, Meghan is “trampling on tradition, causing chaos, ruining everything and then runs and hides.”

By not enforcing or understanding the need to protect Meghan from vicious, racist press coverage in a more deliberate way, the royal family is losing her and what she had to offer.

Ono is a complicated and certainly not faultless public figure, but the widespread cultural narrative around her as the woman who “broke up the Beatles” is clearly misguided and misogynist. As a 1994 New York Times interview with Ono established, her public reputation was one of a woman whose “greatest achievement, it would seem, came from brainwashing that third husband into marrying her in the first place. He was, in the end, a god. She was, all along, the Devil.” And Ono has become the namesake of a tired, untrue trope that suggests women are often a (if not the) problem, seducing and bewitching men into misfortune and bad decisions. The so-called Yoko Effect is a fallacy, not an actual phenomenon.

But there are some notable parallels between Meghan and Ono, as two women who stand accused of breaking up historic and beloved British institutions. Maybe most important to keep in mind is that the distrust and demonization they face is, at least in part, rooted in their race.

“Every time we saw her, we shouted awful things,” a fervent Beatles fan recalled about Ono in Philip Norman’s book Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation. “‘Yellow!’ ‘Chink!’ Subtle things like that… Once, outside Abbey Road, we’d got this bunch of yellow roses to give Yoko. We handed them to her thorns first. Yoko took them and backed all the way down the stairs, thanking us. She hadn’t realized they were meant to be an insult. Nor did John. He turned back and said, ‘Well, it’s about time someone did something decent to her.’”

Meanwhile, Meghan consistently attracts racist news coverage from the British press, teeming with coded language and dog whistles. Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine claimed the Sussexes’ engagement photo gave her a “niggling worry,” while other Daily Mail pieces have mentioned Meghan’s “rich and exotic DNA” and (inaccurately) invoked her upbringing in a “gang-scarred” LA neighborhood.

Even when the tabloids don’t use race-baiting language, Meghan is targeted in ways that are disproportionate to the typically harsh, often absurd criticism all royal family members get. While Meghan’s wedding florals nearly murdered Princess Charlotte, Kate Middleton’s choice of the same flowers was “elegant and understated.” When Kate eats an avocado, it’s a cure for morning sickness, but when Meghan eats one? A source of human rights abuse and environmental devastation, naturally. Time and time again, Meghan has been portrayed in a villainous light.

“I think what Meghan Markle’s experience has shown me is that when you put a woman of color into that space, which has always been abusive, there are particular issues,” said British journalist and author Afua Hirsch in a BBC interview on Monday. “She’s more vulnerable because she’s visibly different.” The level of hostility both Ono and Meghan have faced is proof of how significant it is that they are occupying spaces where they are othered, spaces not constructed for them. And yet, when they’ve made efforts to change that space, or to find a more protected and sustainable role within it, they get the blame.

Another implication of the Yoko Effect (or rather, Yoko Myth) is that it assigns no power, responsibility, or culpability to a man in such a relationship — a fact that’s pretty rich considering the level of fame, privilege, and influence held by John Lennon and Prince Harry. Even the term “Megxit” in itself, while quippy, puts the onus of the duke and duchess’s joint decision on Meghan.

Like Lennon — who was, to be clear, the sole instigator of the Beatles’ breakup — Prince Harry has been known to be outspoken, a bit stubborn, with a rebellious streak. And based on his past comments, it doesn’t seem all that likely he was strong-armed by his wife into defecting from the royal family. He’s spoken of having “wanted out” before, as well as his desire for a semblance of regular life. “My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life,” the prince told Newsweek in 2017. “I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too.”

The reason why Harry would want to put more distance between his family and the British press is a no-brainer. He’s always blamed the media for the death of his mother and when the paparazzi began to report on Meghan as they were dating, he was quick to call the press out for hounding her. In an unprecedented statement from Kensington Palace in 2016, he condemned the tabloids’ coverage as racist and sexist: “Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.”

The reason why Harry would want to put more distance between his family and the British press is a no-brainer.

“I will always protect my family, and now I have a family to protect,” Harry told journalist Tom Bradby when the couple was touring southern Africa in October 2019. “Everything that [my mother] went through and what happened to her is incredibly real every single day. And that’s not just me being paranoid — that’s just me not wanting a repeat of the past. And if anybody else knew what I knew — be it a father, be it a husband, be it anyone — you’d probably be doing exactly what I’m doing as well.”

The Sussexes’ infant son, Archie, is no doubt a key factor in their decision to distance themselves from the monarchy and all the attention that comes with it. If they had hoped that their child would be spared from the realities of being a biracial royal, that hope was quickly quashed; days after Meghan gave birth, a BBC broadcaster likened the couple’s newborn to a well-dressed chimpanzee. To face racism, even as a child, is to live with a chronic, damaging stressor — one that afflicts both the mind and body. If casual, constant racism and the denial of one’s humanity is part and parcel of a publicly funded royal life — which, based on Meghan’s experience so far, it seems to be — then that royal life itself has become a clear threat to Harry’s family.

Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II sits and laughs with Meghan during a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in the town of Widnes in Cheshire, England, June 14, 2018.

Since Harry and Meghan announced they were dating, the Queen has made active efforts to ensure that Meghan feels welcome and accepted in the royal family. And in the Windsors’ defense, it’s essentially a royal tradition to endure bad press, to keep calm and carry on. Plus, given the overwhelming whiteness of the monarchy, it’s not surprising they aren’t cognizant of a crucial factor in being an active ally: stepping up and speaking out (much like Harry has done through his warnings to the press, frank interviews, and pending lawsuits). It’s not a matter of coddling, but a gesture of care and consideration. If you want growth and evolution — that is, if the monarchy wants to modernize — emotional inertia can’t be an option.

It’s a common phenomenon: Historically white businesses and brands claim they want to diversify, but they fail to do the work to nurture and support newcomers. You can’t expect to benefit from the perks, PR, and fanfare of having a “biracial princess” if she isn’t given the space to feel empowered, heard, and accepted. The family spends millions on palace guards and security — a means to protect their physical bodies — but the notion of humanity doesn’t seem to be given the same weight or value. The racism Meghan has experienced is treated as benign, when in reality it chips away and infects, as evidenced by her emotional, viral interview with ITV in October.

And when royals lead pampered, sheltered lives — lives that provide little experience in resisting the prejudice baked into British and Western society — it’s not surprising they don’t (at least yet) understand this. The same seems true of many others, in the media and beyond. Only the two panelists of color on last Thursday’s episode of BBC’s Question Time were willing to suggest that Meghan’s unfair treatment may be tied to the way she looks. (For the record, when the moderator asked whether anyone in the audience thought Harry and Meghan had made a bad decision, not one hand was raised.)

Meanwhile, on BBC’s Newsnight that same evening, singer Jamelia — who is a black woman — shared that she too had been a victim of covert racism living in the UK and “it pales in comparison to what I’ve seen happen to Meghan Markle… It’s not just social media; it’s not. It’s mainstream media; it’s tabloid media.” In response, author and historian Robert Lacey (a white man) was skeptical: “I’d like to see the evidence of that.” Piers Morgan is another example of someone who repeatedly squawks at black women for evidence and then balks when it’s offered.

Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit senior royal life and spend time outside of the UK is not a symbol of defeat: It is an act of self-respect and self-preservation.

On Monday, Phillip Schofield, co-host of This Morning, also requested examples of racism that Meghan has endured, to which guest Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a black lawyer and activist, responded: “It makes me question where have you been the last two years… Let me explain what racism looks like from the lens of white privilege. White privilege whitewashes racist and inflammatory language as unconscious bias. It perpetuates the bigotry of intolerant white people as ignorant. It defends and protects their private views once spoken as misspeak, and then camouflages racist behavior as error of judgment.”

The persistent demand for proof of racism during the “Megxit” news cycle has become at best exhausting and at worst triggering. I don’t find it surprising that Meghan herself, who was in Canada as the “Sandringham summit” occurred, felt it wasn’t necessary to be physically present for the talks between Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Charles, and the Queen. It’s tiring to ask that your humanity be acknowledged only for your mistreatment to be downplayed or denied, over and over again.

It’s possible that Harry and Meghan’s decision and the dialogue it’s creating could help push both the monarchy and British media to evolve into something that’s not just more diverse and inclusive, but more self-aware (whether it be in revisiting and reframing old myths or simply setting the tone for the future). Still, it’s not the responsibility of black people or other minorities to teach Racism 101 to their white peers, not through interviews and certainly not through their lives. Meghan may have married someone whose family comes with a lot of baggage, but she didn’t sign up to be a case study.

Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit senior royal life and spend time outside of the UK is not a symbol of defeat: It is an act of self-respect and self-preservation. The move has been and will no doubt continue to be painted by critics as a selfish shirking of responsibilities, but it’s more of a shifting. It’s not a question of whether the Sussexes are dutiful or not, but to whom.

In a 2015 essay for Elle, before becoming a duchess was even on her radar, Meghan recalled an especially formative memory: “I was home in LA on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver. My skin rushed with heat as I looked to my mom. Her eyes welling with hateful tears, I could only breathe out a whisper of words, so hushed they were barely audible: ‘It’s OK, Mommy.’ I was trying to temper the rage-filled air permeating our small silver Volvo.”

Even then, Meghan knew that some fights just aren’t worth picking, not when your adversary doesn’t deserve your time or energy, not when your family’s well-being is at stake. As they drove out of the parking lot, Meghan sat with a simple reason for their disengagement: “I shared my mom’s heartache, but I wanted us to be safe.”●

Sandi Rankaduwa is a Sri Lankan Canadian writer, comedian, and filmmaker who’s written for the Believer, Rolling Stone, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Exclaim!, and the Coast. She splits her time between Brooklyn and Halifax.

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Prince Harry and Meghan would have to apply for Canadian citizenship like everyone else

Following a meeting Monday with Queen Elizabeth II, it’s clear that Prince Harry and Meghan are coming to Canada for “a period of transition.”

What’s not clear is whether the couple intend to continue to divide their time between the two countries after everything has been arranged; whether they will eventually settle permanently in Canada; or, whether they have their sights set on another country, perhaps the United States, where Meghan is reportedly still a citizen. If they did choose to make Canada their permanent, primary home, would they get any special treatment in regards to Canada’s immigration system?

As the grandson of Canada’s monarch and sixth in line to the throne, one might expect Prince Harry to have some special status in this country. But the Duke of Sussex enjoys no such privilege, nor do any of the Queen’s descendants. Even the Queen does not hold Canadian citizenship, although she could reside in Canada for as long as she wants.

“She has a different kind of status but it’s not citizenship. It’s a state authority,” said Carleton University Professor Philippe Lagassé, an expert on the Westminster system. “She’s the personification of the state, so she doesn’t need a passport to enter. She would have all legal rights because everything done by governance is done in her name.”

This special status, however, only applies to the Queen because Canadian law only recognizes the ruling British monarch.

“It’s a very simple rule — whoever’s their monarch is our monarch,” Lagassé said. “We don’t have any provisions in our law for Royals having particular privileges or status. We don’t even have laws that recognize Royals as being Canadian Royals.”

Canada will not automatically grant the royal couple citizenship, and would need to apply to become permanent residents through the normal immigration process, Mathieu Genest, a spokesperson for the immigration minister, told the CBC in a statement. The minister’s office did not respond to the National Post’s request for comment before deadline.

That means Prince Harry will be entering Canada as any other British citizen would, and all British citizens can stay in Canada for up to six months without a visa. It’s the same for U.S. citizens. So Harry and Meghan’s short-term plan could simply be to travel back and forth between Canada and the U.K. at least twice a year — although that would put Meghan’s application for British citizenship at risk.

If the couple wants Canada to be their economic base, visitor visas won’t help them with their long-term goal of becoming financially independent as neither of them would be permitted to work in the country, said Harjit Grewal, an immigration consultant with Sterling Immigration who works in Vancouver and London.

However, it’s entirely possible that Meghan is already a permanent resident in Canada, Grewal said. While she was filming the TV show Suits, Meghan lived in Toronto for nine months of the year for seven years, until she moved to the U.K. to live with Harry in November 2017.

If, during that time, she got a self-employed visa, aimed at people who work in cultural activities or athletics, then she would have been granted permanent residency. That would mean that Meghan is still eligible to live and work — in any field — in Canada, and that she could sponsor Harry and their son Archie.

The couple could also qualify for a business visa, if they chose to invest some of their vast wealth in Canada, Grewal said. He also pointed out that, if Meghan and Harry successfully monetize the Sussex brand, Canada could be eager to fast-track their applications and welcome them as taxpaying citizens.

We don’t have any provisions in our law for Royals having particular privileges or status

Another option is the federal skilled worker (express entry) program, but the couple might not fare too well under that points-based system since Prince Harry doesn’t have a university degree and they are both over 30, Grewal said. Prince Harry is 35 and Meghan is 38.

While the couple have no legal status, in the eyes of many Canadians, there is a cultural connection to the country as members of the Royal family, Lagassé said, but that doesn’t change the law.

“To what extent do you bend the law to accommodate people of fairly significant means?” Lagassé said. “It becomes a political question, not a legal one at that point.”


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