Meghan Markle Opened Up About Her Family's History with Racism: 'It Still Haunts Me'

Meghan Markle wrote that her personal history with racism has shown her "how far we've come and how far we still have to come"

Royal Wedding preparations
Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have never been a traditional royal couple, and their royal wedding on Saturday was no exception.

Markle, now Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, incorporated numerous touches from her American culture as a biracial woman. A gospel choir sang “Stand By Me” during the service; Chicago-based Bishop Michael Curry preached for over 10 minutes, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and discussing slavery; and Etta James’ civil rights anthem “This Little Light of Mine” closed out the ceremony.

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Markle, 36, has spoken in the past about the importance of acknowledging both sides of her background. (Her mom Doria Ragland is Black, and her dad Thomas Markle is white.)

“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that,” Markle wrote for Elle in 2015. “To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman. That when asked to choose my ethnicity in a questionnaire as in my seventh grade class, or these days to check ‘Other’, I simply say: ‘Sorry, world, this is not Lost and I am not one of The Others. I am enough exactly as I am.’ ”

The Suits star remembered having her mom called a racial slur as they left a concert together near their home in Los Angeles, being on the receiving end of black jokes and an instance when her mother and grandfather had to use a difference entrance at a K.F.C.

“Meggie, on our road trip, when we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, we had to go to the back for ‘coloreds,’ ” Markle wrote in 2015 on her former blog The Tig, recalling a story her grandpa Alvin told her. “The kitchen staff handed me the chicken from the back door and we ate in the parking lot. That’s just what it was.’ ”

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The new princess said that story reminded her of the more recent concert incident with her mom. ““It echoes the time my mom and I were leaving a concert at The Hollywood Bowl, and a woman called her the ‘N’ word because she was taking too long to pull out of the parking spot,” Markle wrote. ‘I remember how hot my skin felt. How it scorched the air around me.”

Both instances showed Markle how much progress still needs to be made. “That story still haunts me,” she continued. “It reminds me of how young our country is. How far we’ve come and how far we still have to come.”

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