Why we’re talking about . . .

Is ‘Megxit’ misogynistic?

Prince Harry is calling for the widely used term to be replaced

Prince Harry is on a “mission” to end the use of the portmanteau created to describe his decision with Meghan Markle to step back from royal duties, according to reports.

The Duke of Sussex has argued that the term “Megxit”, used regularly in the UK media, is sexist, “having been created by an online troll to put his wife at the centre of their departure from the working Royal Family”, said The Telegraph.

Speaking to outgoing Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey during a panel discussion earlier this month organised by Wired magazine, Harry said: “Maybe people know this and maybe they don’t, but the term ‘Megxit’ was or is a misogynistic term.

“It was created by a troll, amplified by royal correspondents, and it grew and grew and grew into mainstream media. But it began with a troll.”

Actually, “Megxit” has “nothing to do with sexism”, wrote The Telegraph’s Michael Deacon. The term was adopted simply because “‘Megxit’ sounds a little bit like ‘Brexit’, a contemporaneous political event of which the duke may be aware”. 

“It may of course be argued that the portmanteau places undue emphasis on one half of the couple in question,” Deacon continued. “On the other hand, I think that even the duke would have to concede that ‘MeghanandHarryxit’ would have worked less well as a pun.”

Harry has shown a “princely sense of humour failure”, agreed Judith Woods in the same newspaper. The Sussexes’ “determination to call out every perceived slight as ‘sexist’ bespeaks a toe-curling self-importance”, Woods wrote. 

This might “play well with their multimillionaire Hollywood chums across the pond”, but over here “healthy scepticism and a tongue-in-cheek disregard” are defining features of British culture.

I think Harry “is absolutely right”, said freelance journalist Harriet Williamson in The Independent. “Megxit” implies that the Sussexes’s joint decision to lead a more independent life in the US was primarily down to Markle, according to Williamson, who pointed out that “it wasn’t known as ‘Hexit’, or more mutually as ‘Sussexit’, was it?”

Many others within the media appear to share Williamson’s view. A survey of 721 journalists by the Press Gazette journal earlier this year found that half believed portrayals of Markle by some UK publications had been problematic.

And when the couple featured on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people cover in September, the British tabloids faced further “backlash for their sexist coverage”, after trotting out body language experts who claimed that Harry appeared passive and Markle authoritative, Insider reported.

Following the duke’s recent intervention over the use of “Megxit”,The Telegraph claimed on Saturday that the couple had scored at least “one clear victory”. The paper said that the BBC was changing the name of the second part of controversial new documentary The Princes and the Press to “Sussexit” to appease Prince Harry.

However, as of today, on BBC iPlayer it was simply called “Episode 2”, with the first part titled “The New Generation”.

Part two, broadcast on BBC Two on Monday evening, examines the tumultuous period for the Royal Family from 2018 to 2021, and the circumstances that led the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to step down from their senior royal roles in January 2020. 

The hour-long episode also looks at the unprecedented privacy actions that the couple have launched against the British media in recent years and includes interviews with Markle’s lawyer, Jenny Afia.

In a rare joint statement, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace criticised the documentary’s producers for making “overblown and unfounded claims” and for giving credibility to allegations made by “unnamed sources that are presented as facts”.

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