Meghan Markle is not the First Royal to Speak Up About Miscarriage. Here's Why that Matters
File photo of Meghan Markle
Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex, has revealed that she had a miscarriage, an extraordinarily personal disclosure coming from a high-profile British royal.
The wife of Prince Harry and former actress wrote about the experience in detail in an opinion article published in the New York Times on Wednesday, saying that it took place one July morning when she was caring for Archie, the couple's son.
"I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second," Meghan wrote, describing how she felt a sharp cramp after picking up Archie from his crib, and dropped to the floor with him in her arms, humming a lullaby to keep them both calm.
Meghan's revelation comes as a pleasant surprise, and at odds with the policies of Buckingham Palace; the senior royals usually prefer to stay mum about their personal lives. For instance, Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth has strictly kept her personal life out of the public eye -- never revealing emotions or speaking about personal grief in her 68-year-reign.
A source close to Harry said the Duke had discussed the article with the royal family beforehand.
Meghan is actually not the first royal to open up about her miscarriage. The Queen's eldest granddaughter, Zara Tindall, had paved the way for Meghan in 2016. In December that year, Tindall, daughter of Princess Anne, spoke about suffering two miscarriages. In an interview, she had spoken about the intense grief she had felt after the miscarriages which preceded the birth of her daughter, Lena.
Putting on a brave face, Tindall had said that the hardest bit was telling the world that she had miscarried because news of her pregnancy had been public.
Meghan's essay, and Tindall's interview before that, break the silence and taboo around the topic which has been made too uncomfortable a subject to even approach for most women around the world. The stigma around miscarriage looms under the shadow of unnecessary shame and guilt, which further paves the way for solitary grief. The stigma, which Meghan shatters with her piece, has left too many women isolated and helpless when all they probably need is support.
Her honest, raw, and emotionally charged essay is sending a powerful message of support to anyone who has lost a baby - that they aren't alone.
In fact, Meghan's sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, had shattered stereotypes too in her own way when she had spoken about her battles with morning sickness during all three of her pregnancies. Earlier this year, the Duchess of Cambridge spoke in a podcast about motherhood and how she struggled with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. She acknowledged that many people had it worse than her and that pregnancy affects everyone differently.
Of course, media treatment of royal pregnancies has been evolved and improved over a period of time. The late Princess Diana, Harry's mother, was one of the first royals to speak about morning sickness and difficult pregnancies. In fact, if reports are to be believed, the Queen is against the term "pregnant". She thinks it is vulgar and prefers a more roundabout way of referring to it.
But evidently, both Kate and Meghan have been more forthcoming about their experiences with motherhood. Studies have shown that at least ten to fifteen per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriages. When a Duchess opens up about it, it dispels shame, guilt and stigma around it. As celebrity singer Chrissy Teigen had written about publicly posting photos of her miscarriage in a heartwarming essay, "These photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them."