Prince Harry, not Meghan, is the one who’s marrying up

There’s only four more weeks until Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry, and royal-watching has hit bizarre levels. Apple News has dedicated an entire stream to Markle. Self-proclaimed serious women’s magazines like Elle and Marie Claire mention her almost daily online, while celeb weeklies are slapping her image on the cover with only the flimsiest of “news.” The woman put on a dress Wednesday and People magazine went into full fan-girl meltdown, blaring in big bold letters “Bride-to-Be Meghan Markle Wears a Chic White Dress — One Month Before the Royal Wedding!” before breathlessly “reporting” on her “chic, effortless So-Cal style!”

But what no one is saying amidst the patronizing headlines about “the luckiest girl in the world,” her “fairy tale come true” and the predictable “real-life Cinderella” nonsense, is that Markle is the ultimate anti-Cinderella. Instead of good-naturedly lamenting her humble beginnings and poor treatment by a stepsister by praying for a fairy godmother and a hot rich man, Markle stayed sane, got an education from a world-class university, worked her ass off, created an online magazine as well as a huge social following and, despite the odds and the “Deal or No Deal” briefcases she had to tote along the way, became a working actress — amassing her own $5 million fortune. She, unlike the passive Cinderella, changed her fate all by herself years before she’d met Harry.

In actuality, in these modern times, Prince Harry, even though he has a genuine hereditary title not bought off the Internet, is the one marrying up — not her. And despite the overt glamor of the royal wedding on May 19, Markle will likely suffer for her intellectual subjugation.

During an interview with “60 Minutes Australia” last weekend, controversial feminist author Germaine Greer said she thinks Markle “will bolt” as soon as she gets a sense of what life is like in the British royal family (which Greer refers to as “the firm”).

“Let’s hope they’re in love. If they’re not, it’s going to be totally unbearable,” Greer said. “She will see vistas of boredom that are unbelievable. I think the pressure to escape from the firm is crushing.”

Greer got slammed, but she made a good point. Any woman, let alone any feminist, is bound to have a hard time inside palace walls, no matter how padded they are.

The No. 1 job of any woman marrying into the royal family (despite claims to being a goodwill ambassador) is to produce heirs. Baby watch is already on with British tabloid The Sun asking “When Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Have Their First Baby?” (Answer: as soon as possible).

Markle, who went on TV at the age of 11 to fight sexism and over the years spoke out about race, gender and women’s rights, will, despite her best efforts, be muted as British royals are not allowed to dabble in anything seen as overtly political. Opinions or individual thoughts are looked down upon. In January, Markle shut down all of her social-media accounts (henceforth, all tweets or Instagrams from her will be routed through the p.r. team at Kensington Palace). She won’t even be allowed to vote in her new country or her old one — the ultimate throwback to pre-Susan B. Anthony times.

Every step, every outfit, every hairstyle will be scrutinized. Already there are lists and comments about how many times she has broken protocol and diatribes about her daring to wear her hair in a messy bun, don ripped jeans or wear black. And while Markle may think she can handle it, it isn’t like Hollywood where, if one tries, one can disappear.

While a lot of women swoon over the thought of being a princess, imagine a world where even the mundane becomes disastrous:

  • Miffed with your man? Or just not in the mood to be gracious 24/7? Suck it up, sweetheart!
  • Want to take a walk around the block and clear your head? Maybe grab a cup of coffee and meet a new person? No can do.
  • Want to have or hang out with a heterosexual male friend? Not happening.
  • How about seeing a movie in an actual movie theater? Sorry. Not allowed.
  • Want to have just a hot second alone? Not possible outside the palace walls. Even inside the royal residence it’s gonna be difficult — there are literally servants and gossips everywhere.
  • Got a zit? That’s gonna be front page news (“STRESS GETS TO MARKLE”).
  • Does your nose itch in public? Want to scratch it? Can’t do that either — unless you want to spawn countless headlines of “MEGAN PICKS HER NOSE” or (from the more dubious outlets): “WOT YOU SNIFFING MEGS?” — inevitably followed up by a “story” citing someone who once knew a friend of hers who did cocaine.

Markle can forget about having a wedgie, a wrinkle, a bad-hair day, being able to actually speak her mind or protest anything ever again.

And while William and Kate’s growing offspring will take some of the heat off eventually, Markle will never have the luxury of being able to fade into relative obscurity like Prince Andrew, Prince Edward or Princess Margaret.

Because the mixed race, previously divorced Hollywood actress who became an American princess won’t ever become semi-anonymous. She will always hold fascination for the public.

She is signing up for life in an extremely gilded cage, which, while beautiful and comfortable, is a cage nonetheless.

Even Prince Harry once admitted it would be difficult to find someone “willing to take me on.” Now that he’s landed the woman of his dreams, it’s possible he could crush all of hers.

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