#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.  

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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?

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Next: Moving Forward

 

 

 

 

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#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!”

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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.”

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Tomorrow: Part 3 – Painful Beginnings