Meghan Markle Isn’t the First Outsider to Be Accused of Threatening the Future of the Monarchy

Even before Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex abruptly decided to leave their roles in the royal family and move half a world away, she was the subject of intense criticism. Skeptics accused Meghan of luring Prince Harry away from his family and potentially threatening the centuries-old royal tradition.

In a way these critics were right to worry — Harry did eventually quit the life he’d always known. But like another famous royal in history, it wasn’t entirely the fault of the woman he loved. Prince Harry wasn’t the first to escape the pressure of being royal while Meghan certainly wasn’t the first woman to get blamed for it.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle | Jeremy Selwyn – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get compared to King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

The moment the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their resignation and perhaps even before, fans couldn’t help but compare them to some of Prince Harry’s relatives. It’s hard to forget one of the most scandalous — and romantic — royal love stories of all time.

In 1936, Edward VIII became king as was his birthright. Only there was a problem: he was in love with an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson and wanted to marry her. Knowing his subjects would never accept her as their queen, Edward chose to abdicate and pass the responsibility to his younger brother. That king was George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father.

Did Meghan Markle force Prince Harry to leave his family?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Ultimately, Prince Harry’s departure is much less dramatic than King Edward VIII’s was, especially since he had little chance of ever being the king. But thanks to social media it feels a lot more sensational among the fans who love him. Sadly, many of them blame Meghan for the whole disaster.

But they may forget how Prince Harry was openly hostile toward the press even before he got married. The Duke of Sussex blamed media obsession for the tragic death of his mother, Princess Diana. Those feelings seemed to intensify after Harry got married and became a father. But he likely would have felt the same way no matter who he chose as his bride.

Wallis Simpson supposedly ‘lured’ Edward VIII away

Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor and the Duke of Windsor | Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Critics accused Simpson of bewitching Edward VIII and tempting him away from his obligations. But in reality, he didn’t want to be king in the first place, and Simpson encouraged him not to marry her.

Biographer Anna Pasternak wrote, “People do not understand that [Simpson] really tried to stop this, she tried to get away from him. But [Edward] put so much pressure on her.”

She continued, “He threatened suicide if she left him. He threatened that no matter where she went in the world, he would follow her. He was almost deranged when it came to his obsession or need with her.”

Prince Harry made his own choices

Prince Harry
Prince Harry | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Like Simpson, Meghan gets more of the blame for Harry’s departure than she probably deserves. She tried to fit in with the royals but was unfairly targeted by the media for being an outsider. Prince Harry became upset and retaliated by getting away rather than putting up with it.

To some extent, he was motivated by love, just like his distant relative King Edward VIII. But there’s a good chance the Duke of Sussex was just waiting for an excuse to escape anyway.