#GlobalSussexBabyShower, A Good Home, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan markle

A Royal Surprise – Part 4

I admire “purple turtles” — characters who are uniquely different from others around them, and whose difference gives them a special strength.

So it’s no surprise that I admire the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  

Like the main character in my Myrtle the Purple Turtle books, Harry and Meghan are anomalies in their environments; becoming a couple has only made them more so, and stronger for it.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Diana and sons
Credit: Kensington Palace

Born a redhead like many in his mother’s family, Harry stood out immediately from his parents, brother and the other Windsors.

Meghan, with an African American mother and a white American father, was also a distinctly different child from her much older, white half-siblings. At school, she says, she also didn’t quite fit into any group.

Feeling very different influences behaviour.  A child may deny her uniqueness to gain acceptance then discover later that she has lost herself.  Another child may rebel and misbehave. 

But if you’re lucky, you become driven to succeed at something while developing a strong empathy.

Perhaps these were two of the shared qualities that drew Meghan and Harry together. Despite their current wealth and privilege, both seem to deeply understand what it means to be vulnerable.  Their back-stories of pain, mistakes, learning and maturing has made them stronger.

Blog Photo - MM and PH applaud- Credit Kensington Palace
Credit: Kensington Palace

Taken together, it all makes them a royal duo unlike any the modern world has seen.

That strength has earned them detractors – in the media, and even, allegedly, among some royal staff. But it also attracted a global army of well-educated, media-literate supporters who believe the Sussexes’ power is transformative and far-reaching.

And if royal insiders and reporters attack them, their loyal army will fight right back.

~~

Since November 2016, fans of the couple have been fighting back at media with facts, angry rebuttals and the occasional F-word.

But the Global Sussex Baby Shower was a different undertaking, one requiring them to act with love and compassion. 

Like Mel, they wanted the couple to know that their supporters around the world “aren’t just fans, but partners willing to work alongside them on our world’s most persistent problems.”

Like Deesa, they hoped the shower would “take the focus off the ugliness and focus on the good that the DDoS want to do.”

Neri hoped it “made Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan proud, and they know they are loved! But more importantly, that their supporters are inspired by their example.”

Tola, from Durban, South Africa, is proud of the shower’s impact. It “refocused the group’s energy.”

~~

Blog Photo - Camfed donations from baby shower

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Wellchild Baby
Credit: WellChild

As donations flooded in to charities that badly needed them, The Sussex Squad began to realize it had influence, even power.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Baby Gifts

In mere days, their initiative had raised awareness and more than US$70,000 in small donations from around the world.

Blog Photo - baby shower list of countries
Credit: Magali

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Little Village image

So what now?

Sussex Squad members have called for fans to boycott articles and books by royal reporters who have persistently maligned the duke and duchess.

They’re also calling out American and British TV networks who engage these reporters for commentary on the royal family.

And, as I write, the Sussex Squad members are still fighting with royal reporters and trolls. Still fact-checking, still calling out unfair treatment. 

~~

Newspapers like The SUN now claim the Sussexes have “broken protocol” and “angered the nation”  — because they won’t pose for news photographers just hours after their baby’s birth, as Kate and William did.

“ROYAL RAGE 

Meghan you don’t get to claim ‘privacy’ after your star-studded baby shower and wedding that WE forked out £30m for – being a royal isn’t a part-time job.”

Sussex fans fired back that it was friends who paid for her baby shower. They  also asked: Did the queen, who birthed four children privately at home, break protocol too?

It’s exhausting. But Tina says to make the world kinder and more positive, the Sussex Squad must “push back forcefully against negativity and hatred from the media”.

How best to do that?

Some fans call out sexism and racism in unapologetically blunt, even harsh, language.

Anne and others advocate “that we be better than the trolls and focus on championing Meghan and Harry’s charities and message.”

Yet she quickly notes that the “vitriol coming from online trolls is very real and racist” and provocative, so many Sussex supporters feel they have to be fierce “to protect Meghan”.

Blog Photo - baby Shower - Sussexes
Credit: Kensington Palace

Brenda hopes that “with the new royal family social media guidelines, the new Sussex Instagram account, and the new Sussex baby, we will see so much positivity that it will turn us away from the negativity. Myself included.”

Mimi hopes that “we see that by staying positive and leading with love, we can all make a difference.”

~~

Everyone is looking forward to the birth of the Sussex baby, and the future beyond.

Portia, the education assessment officer in the UK, says: “This is an amazing time to be alive and to follow the works of the Royal family — especially the Sussexes. There is no equal to them, and no blueprint for them to follow.”

That causes hope and some anxiety.

Benedicta prays that “their love is strong enough to withstand all the negative things that are thrown at them and that they will continue to do wonderful work as they’re doing now.”

~~

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A Good Home, Blogger Friends, Blogging, Blogging Community, Book Honours

A Personal Note

There are thousands of people who follow me through this blog and other forms of social media.

THANK YOU.

Some of you have followed me since the publication of my very first book, A Good Home. You and newer friends rejoiced with me when both it, and the sequel, An Honest House, were positively reviewed by critics and well received by book lovers. 

Book Cover final - AHH

 Then, when my first children’s book Myrtle the Purple Turtle was published, you helped make it an immediate bestseller through your purchases, posts, and reviews.

Blog Photo - Book Cover Myrtle the Purple Turtle

THANK YOU.

You haven’t only celebrated with me; you’ve also “accompanied” me to hospitals, commiserated when I pushed myself too hard and relapsed yet again, prayed for my husband when he was critically ill, and encouraged us on some of our worst days.

THANK YOU.

So you may be wondering what on earth has happened to the Cynthia Reyes you know. 

What happened to the woman who proudly wears her sister’s second-hand clothes, fails spectacularly at the domestic arts of cooking, baking and making Christmas arrangements, then writes ridiculous poems or other funny posts to make you laugh at her?

Blog Photo - Christmas Arrangement

And why the heck has she seemingly returned to somewhat-serious journalism in the last week or so? Writing about — of all things — a royal couple?

No, I haven’t gone off the deep end. Nor have I gone back to journalism, which some would say is the same thing. But about every two years or so, I find a story that fascinates me so much, I go through the pain and anxiety of researching and writing a whole blog series about it.

Such is the case with the story of the large and interesting international group which has been waging a fierce online defense of Prince Harry and his wife the Duchess of Sussex (aka Harry and Meghan) against their detractors. That same group surprised onlookers recently by holding a very successful online event to aid charities associated with the couple.

Like Harry and Meghan, this group has the potential to do much good in the world — if they play their cards right. I have enjoyed watching them in action.

Now the series is almost complete, with only one final part to add.  I hope, whether you are a longtime follower or a new one, you will find it interesting.

If you don’t, bear with me, please. 

The Cynthia Reyes you know is still here — she has not “left the building”.  I’ll have personal and author news to share soon, and I look forward to reading your updates too.

My best wishes,

Cynthia.

 

 

#GlobalSussexBabyShower, A Good Home, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

A Royal Surprise Pt.3: A Painful Beginning

To understand why supporters are so protective of Harry and Meghan, we have to go back to 2016.

Deesa Roberts, the Atlanta lawyer, knew nothing about Meghan Markle until October 2016.  However, she and her two daughters had been royal supporters for decades.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Diana and sons
Credit: Kensington Palace

“When Princess Diana died, we bawled our eyes out. We felt so sad for her children, and especially for Prince Harry, who was so young to experience such a loss. I always had a soft spot for him.”

She kept track of Harry as he grew up.

“Then, in October 2016, news broke about his relationship with Meghan Markle and was confirmed in November.”

November 8, to be specific. That day, in a strongly worded statement, Kensington Palace asked British media and “trolls” to stop harassing Harry’s girlfriend.

“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

The “wave of abuse” didn’t stop.

Following the coverage from Atlanta, Deesa was shaken by the anti-Meghan “racism and misogyny” in the UK tabloids.  

~~

There are few (known) persons of colour in the British royal family. Though Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, is said to have been part-African, she’s been dead for centuries.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Queen Charlotte - Credit National Portrait Gallery
Credit National Portrait Gallery

Meghan Markle was an anomaly.

~~

The attacks on Meghan Markle weren’t isolated to Britain.  Comment sections of several UK newspapers had as many American anti-Meghan remarks as British.

Deesa, meanwhile, read everything she could about Meghan.  “I sensed that she was the one for him. I felt she could handle the pressure.  She was older than his previous girlfriends and more mature; she had faced difficult issues and overcome them.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Meghan Markle CU
Courtesy: The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust

“I decided I had to support her. I was born in Georgia and my grandfather was born in slavery.  So I’m thoroughly familiar with racism.  I recognized the attacks by some royal reporters early on. I tried to engage them and other royal watchers in respectful conversation, but it didn’t go anywhere. For my efforts, I was dubbed a ‘race warrior’.”

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Deesa CU
Deesa Roberts

Deesa’s concerns were echoed by others whom I interviewed for this series.

Mimi, also American, admired Princess Diana and felt protective of her sons after Diana’s death.

“Prince Harry was my favorite. I always rooted for him and supported his causes. I became a Meghan fan when she was with Suits. I followed her blog The Tig and admired the speech she made at UN Women. Having loved them both separately, it was a no-brainer that I’d support them as a couple.”

Blog Photo - Chris and Sparky and David
Chris, Sparky & Chris’ son David

Chris, from the US south, loved Princess Diana.  “When she died, my heart ached for Harry. Sometimes the press was so hard on him, but he truly has such a caring and loving heart. 

“When I heard he and Meghan were dating, I was thrilled.  I truly thought it was a match made in Heaven. 

Blog Photo - Baby shower - royal engagement H and M
Photos Courtesy: Kensington Palace

“From their engagement interview, to their wedding, and everything they’ve done so far, they’ve really impacted me. Their passion to help others and change the world is inspirational. I’m old enough to be their Mom (lol) but they’ve really impacted my life.”  

Blog Photo - baby shower - Melbour Australia skyline
Melbourne, Australia skyline. Credit: Wikipedia

From Melbourne, Australia, David says:  “I really believe in them as a couple and think they will achieve great things together and individually. They seem to both be driven people and that really resonates with me. Also very impressed with Meghan’s background before meeting Harry.”

~~

Many Sussex supporters  around the world felt they had to speak up against the “lies and vitriol” being directed at the couple on social media “and sometimes the press.”

Portia, an education assessment officer in the UK, says: “What was distressing, and still is, is the press giving a platform to trolls by using their quotes and giving press coverage to them. That I find sad. There is a need for a re-balancing of issues in the press.”

 On Twitter, Sussex fans fact-checked and rebutted reporters’ stories. Some reporters saw them as trolls who were brutally insulting, a few even “threatening”. (Author Note: I’ve seen no threats myself, but have seen many angry, and some insulting, tweets.)

As the battle waged, Sussex fans became familiar with each other through their tweets and Twitter profiles. After Harry and Meghan married and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Deesa says, she suggested fans call themselves The Sussex Squad.

~~

As organizers of the global baby shower, Sussex Squad members turned their focus to helping vulnerable people and pets through charities associated with the royal couple.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower

When people hurl online insults at the Sussexes or the baby shower,  most Sussex Squad members try to rise above it, often replying with these slogans:

“Don’t Hate. Donate”.

“Leading with Love”.

It’s a strategy of positivity and kindness. 

But they’re also strongly committed to defending the duke and duchess against the media and ‘haters’. 

Can the Sussex Squad do both things?

~~

Next: Moving Forward

 

 

 

 

#GlobalSussexBabyShower, Prince Harry and Meghan markle, Royal Family

A Royal Surprise, Part 2

Across the world, more than 50 countries are represented in The Sussex Squad. They include the USA, UK, Brazil, France, Sierra Leone, India, Hong Kong, Canada, Germany, the Phillipines, Croatia, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, South Africa, Jamaica, Curacao, Estonia, Italy, Portugal and many other countries.

Most members of The Sussex Squad seem to be under 40, but Deesa, an Atlanta lawyer in her 60’s, is not unique: there are retired teachers, nurses and other older individuals in the group.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Deesa Roberts
Deesa Roberts

Some members are businesspeople. Many are professionals – lawyers, scientists, educators, university professors, community workers, healthcare workers, political scientists, economists, etc. Some are students, some are Ph. D candidates.

In other words: educated, empowered, articulate. And devoted fans of Harry and Meghan.

Even among each other, they use their Twitter names. Names like BrenBrenchie, Mimi, Deesa, Freepeeper, Sussex Squad Podcast, Tonya, Mel, Beng, Neri, Emmy, The Tudor Chick, Magali. There are also subgroups, such as the Sussex Prayer Chain, which prays every day for the couple and their baby.

Blog Photo - MM and PH smiling

They had never done anything like the shower before.

‘Neri’, a 40 year old escrow officer from Arkansas, jumped at the chance to be part of the Global Sussex Baby Shower, “because everything about it is positive and endearing.”

Deesa, in Atlanta, thought the baby shower was “an absolutely awesome idea. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan don’t need gifts. What better way to galvanize their supporters to do good things for their charities who in turn do good things for real people?”

Indeed, the donations were coming in so fast, staff at the named charities were inundated.

Blog Photo - CamFed First Tweet

Camfed joyfully tweeted: “We are still blown away by the response to the #GlobalSussexBabyShower! We can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity.” Within days, Camfed had raised enough money to send 94 African girls to school.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Mayhew CatBlog Photo - Baby Shower -Mayhew Dog

Animal charity Mayhew tweeted: “We have been thrilled and delighted by the fundraising activity that’s taken place over the weekend and can’t thank everybody who has shared the #GlobalSussexBabyShower campaign and donated to Mayhew enough.”

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Meghan Harry and Child

WellChild said: “We have been surprised and delighted by the donations from supporters of #GlobalSussexBabyShower. It’s great that an online outpouring of goodwill can lead to practical help for children with serious illness and their families.”

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Wellchild tweet

It was the charities who notified Kensington Palace, not the organizers. They were too busy donating, tweeting, promoting the charities and managing their own emotions. The campaign runs till May 12; no-one expected this overwhelming result so early.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Wellchild Baby

When Mel logged back onto Twitter, she was astonished. “I saw the support and was overwhelmed with gratitude for the wonderful women who took the idea and ran with it.  I decided to dedicate as much time as I could to promoting the campaign, encouraging people participating, and helping to raise the profiles of the selected charities.”

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Donation receipt

 

Sussex Squad members recruited friends and relatives too.

Deesa tweeted: “My 90-year old mother is awake now and we just made her donation to Camfed!”

~~

Other charities also benefited.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - charities who were helped in first week

‘The Tudor Chick’ tweeted: “Just made another donation. So proud of my #SussexSquad for building something beautiful with the bricks thrown at Harry and Meghan.”

Some shifted their priorities.

‘Eliana’ planned to buy a new cell phone. Instead, “I had the screen repaired.”

‘Just Juliette’, from France, stopped shopping.  ‘Fleur’, also French, says “I simply didn’t buy new clothes. I have enough, and I think educating children is more important.” 

Brenda didn’t buy that ‘beautiful pair of sandals”.  ‘LRSykes’ gave up “a new handbag and spring jacket”.

In Canada, Stephanie loves buying kitchen stuff, so had to overcome temptation. Her sister “bee-lined it for the kitchen section” of a store.  “I literally stop and say… ‘I can’t BE in here!’ She was understandably shocked, lol.”

‘Beth’ planned to buy herself a diamond ring to symbolize a new beginning after leaving a bad marriage, but decided, “I can always buy that later. This is a much more important cause.”

Blog Photo - Camfed donations from baby shower

And ‘Missy’, whose mother died last year, donated the money she would have spent on “spoiling” her mother on Mothering Sunday.  She chose to help families “on what was my first Mothering Sunday without her.”

Neri’s remark reflects the mood in The Sussex Squad.  “Being grateful for my own blessings, I couldn’t think of a better way of showing gratitude than to pay it forward. And doing this in Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s honour makes me very happy.”

~~

Tomorrow: Part 3 – Painful Beginnings