Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex grew up in different countries and different socioeconomic statuses. He was born and raised as an English prince, while she was born and raised by middle class American parents.
Despite their many differences, Harry’s and Meghan’s childhoods had some striking similarities. For one thing, both of them experienced struggles related to their identities.
Prince Harry struggled with being a ‘spare’
Harry is the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. Ever since he was born, it has always been understood that his older brother, Prince William, would be the heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Harry is often called the “spare.”
“Spare” royals tend to struggle with their role because, unlike heirs, there is no defined path for them.
An anonymous source explained to The New York Times in 2015, “To be a spare is a horrendously difficult human position. It’s hard to be royal in any case, with the lack of freedom involved. But if you’re the spare, and people look up to you to preserve all family values, but you have no real role, it’s immensely frustrating.”
Meghan Markle struggled with her racial identity
While Meghan did not seem to struggle with her place in her family, she did struggle to fit in with society at large. Meghan is biracial, and she has opened up about how this affected her in school.
“My high school had cliques: the black girls and white girls, the Filipino and the Latina girls. Being biracial, I fell somewhere in between,” she wrote on her now-defunct blog, The Tig, in 2014. “So everyday during lunch, I busied myself with meetings – French club, student body, whatever one could possibly do between noon and 1pm- I was there. Not so that I was more involved, but so that I wouldn’t have to eat alone.”
In an essay for Elle in 2016, Meghan also admitted her biracial background made it difficult for her to land roles in Hollywood. She said, “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”
However, Meghan shared she eventually learned to embrace her identity, opting to draw her own box if she couldn’t fit into society’s predefined ones.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle use their identities to their advantage
Instead of letting their identities hold them back, Harry and Meghan have used their identities to their advantage.
For example, Harry is not bound to the crown like William, so he and Meghan have been able to step down as senior royals, move to California, and become financially independent. The couple now has more freedom to do things their own way.
Meanwhile, Meghan uses her background to help marginalized people from various parts of society. She has advocated for women’s empowerment, rights for people of color, and low-income folks.