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.
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.
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.”
As donations flooded in to charities that badly needed them, The Sussex Squad began to realize it had influence, even power.
In mere days, their initiative had raised awareness and more than US$70,000 in small donations from around the world.
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.
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”.
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.”