I don't think I've ever been as interested in royals as I've been since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their "step back" from the Royal Family earlier this year.

Back in January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their plan to try being kind of normal in a divergence that's so cleverly been dubbed "Megxit." The couple are now splitting their time between the U.K. and North America, creating a perfect opportunity for Meghan to attend this year's Met Gala. Whispers have been circulating about the former Suits star maybe, possibly, getting back into acting, and this year's gala will serve as a perfect Hollywood homecoming for Meghan.

But Harry won't be by his lady's side; instead, Meghan will be attending with British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. This pairing checks out, as Meghan guest-edited the magazine's September issue. The Met Gala will also mark Meghan's first public appearance as a non-royal; she and Harry will be stripped of their aristocratic titles come April 1.

"Meghan is keen to step out occasionally without Harry so that she can establish herself once more in Hollywood," an anonymous source told The Sun. In other words: Meghan seems to be thriving. Cutting ties with the Royal Family and attending the Met Gala is a major own.


CULTURE

Meghan Markle Has Every Right to Forget Her Father

Between claims that he wants to reconcile and reconnect, Thomas Markle has stirred up endless controversy for his own benefit.

Thomas Markle was making headlines again Monday, following an interview with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid for Good Morning Britain.

He is the estranged father of Meghan Markle, AKA the Duchess of Sussex. He's also the source of endless tabloid drama. In the interview, he expressed his wish to be cared for and to make peace with his daughter and his dubious frustration that the only way he has to communicate with his daughter is through the press. Despite his persistence in exactly the behavior that will prevent him from ever making peace, it's easy to feel bad for him. He is old, ailing, lonely, and incurably pathetic. But there is no need for pity, because no one on Earth can possibly pity Thomas Markle as much as he pities himself.

Meghan Markle with Doria Ragland Getty Images

Markle won $750,000 in the lottery in 1990, two years after his divorce from Doria Ragland—Meghan's mother. Meghan was eight at the time, and her father chose to spend a portion of his winnings to send her to a private school. Perhaps he saw that as an investment. He was pouring money into his daughter's education so that she could make something of herself and eventually pay him back. If so, it seems to have been his smartest investment—he went bankrupt in 2016—and despite his daughter cutting ties, he has found a novel way to get a return on the money he put in: He has made himself her perennial tabloid nemesis.

This is the advantage of sharing a last name and some genetics with one of the most famous women on Earth. While she may not love the intense scrutiny that is applied to her every post on social media, to every outfit she wears, and to her family's recent efforts to achieve some privacy and independence, the glow of that spotlight offers some warmth and attention for a lonely, pathetic man who seems to struggle with the concept that he is not the center of other people's lives. In the recently televised "documentary," Thomas Markle: My Story—little more than an extended airing of his imagined grievances—Thomas Markle said that Meghan, Prince Harry, and the royals owe him. "For what I've been through, I should be rewarded… it's time to look after daddy."

Thomas Markle: My Story Channel 5

But what has he been through? Is his daughter responsible for his financial woes because he paid for her schooling when she was a child? Is that the extent of her debt, or does she also owe him for the cruelty he was subjected to by British tabloids that inevitably portrayed him as a drunken slob in the lead up to the royal wedding? That experience apparently made him so insecure and tapped into his insecurities so much that he ended up working with a photographer to stage his own paparazzi photos in an effort to improve his image—a plan that backfired dramatically. Is that why he has turned that same tabloid cruelty so potently against his daughter? Is that why he shared the private letter that she sent him—a letter in which she begged him to stay out of the tabloids—with the Daily Mail?

Despite his best efforts to harass them into compliance, his daughter and her husband continue to make choices for their own lives without first consulting Thomas Markle. Stepping back from their positions as senior members of the royal family, perhaps hoping to avoid some of the ire of the British media, was—in the opinion of a man who has been cut off from all contact—very disappointing. Because marrying a prince is "every girl's dream," and taking a step back is apparently the equivalent of "destroying" or cheapening" the royal family. He went on to say, "I think it's a misunderstanding that should be worked out not in front of cameras or the world." A fascinating take from a man who is building his life around occupying as much media attention as possible.

As things stand, many white Britons who resent Meghan Markle's ascension to royalty while still being a woman of color have found their standard bearer in Thomas Markle—the abandoned white father who doesn't see any racism in media coverage that has referred to Meghan's "exotic DNA" and claimed that she is "(Almost) Straight Outta Compton." After all, as Markle put it, "I think England is even more liberal in some ways than the United States," therefore racism is impossible. Likewise, anyone looking for a reason to believe that an American actress must necessarily lack the refinement to be a proper member of the royal family can find all the evidence they need in the messy, greedy drama that her father deals in. Love him or hate him, critics will find a way to turn it against Meghan Markle. Why?

Daily Mail Racism

By his own admission, Thomas and Meghan haven't been close since her college years. That was two decades ago. She hasn't spoken openly about how they grew distant, but she must have had her reasons. Nonetheless, she didn't fully cut him out of her life until he started inflicting media scandals on her already over-scrutinized family. She tried to be there for him in the limited way that she felt comfortable with, but he seemingly wasn't interested in anything less than as much as he wanted. If he won't be lavishly cared for by his daughter, then he'll see to it that he's lavishly cared for by the British press. They continue to pay him for his name and for the wild sense of self-importance that leads him to think that his opinions must be shared, and that he is in some way royalty himself: "I can use the British name as well now, because I'm tied in with that, and I have a grandson who's a royal."

That was his claim on Good Morning Britain, but it's not clear what he means. Is he going to change his name to Thomas of Windsor or Thomas, father of the Duchess of Sussex? Who knows. Whatever he does, it seems certain that he will continue placing his own interest above his daughter's. When Piers Morgan asked him if he was concerned, given his age and his multiple heart attacks, "that this may not get resolved before it's too late," Thomas removed any lingering doubts about his narcissism. Unable to contemplate the reality of his own looming death, he simply said, "It's possible," before redirecting to other hypotheticals. "Kobe was only 42, so anything can happen to anyone." Presumably the thought of Meghan and Harry dying in a similarly tragic accident was less upsetting to him than the thought of his own passing from heart problems in his mid-70s. Markle went on to opine, "I just think that this is kind of silly. It's gone on too long."

He's absolutely right. It's gone on far too long. People have been paying him to express his vulgar, asinine opinions on broad public platforms for too long. His insistence that he's "apologized several times" flies in the face of his continued thoughtless cruelty—his assertion, moments later, that Harry should "man up" and reconcile with him. An apology implies an acknowledgment of fault and an intention not to repeat the behavior that, according to your daughter's private letter, broke her heart "into a million pieces." A man so concerned with perceived sins against him that he would share that letter with the world is incapable of a true apology—of recognizing his own sins.

Thomas Markle Staged One of Markle's staged paparazzi pictures

In connection with that letter's publication, Meghan Markle is in the middle of suing The Daily Mail. In turn, they have arranged to use her own father as a witness against her. If that happens, it could be the first time since this drama began that Meghan and Thomas will be in the same room together. His strange role as her adversary will be official. Legal. Surely he knows that he will be throwing away any possibility of reconnecting or being her father again. It's time for the British media to recognize it too. They need to stop treating his complaints seriously—keep him away from their cameras and out of their headlines. Let him be truly estranged. Let him be just another stranger with vile opinions that aren't worth the paper to print them.

Included in the latest interview, Thomas Markle made a blatant threat to continue the drama: "After this interview, if I don't hear from someone in 30 days then I will try again. I don't want to sit in silence in my living room for the rest of my life waiting for someone to get back to me." It's a threat that only holds weight if the British media continue to give him a platform. They have a choice to leave him in that silence. They have 30 days to grow a conscience… Don't hold your breath.

CULTURE

Harry and Meghan Just Want to Be Normal, Dammit

The Duke and Duchess are stepping back as "senior" members of the Royal Family.

Ever since their engagement was announced in November 2017, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have proven that they're not your grandma's royal couple.

From their comparatively nontraditional wedding to their 10-day tour of Africa last year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are the most unorthodox members of the Royal Family since Harry's mother, Princess Diana. They further solidified their black sheep status by announcing today that they'd be keeping their distance from the rest of the family.

"We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," Harry and Meghan announced on Instagram. "We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen."


The pair say they will be raising their eight-month-old son Archie between North America and England, allowing him "appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born" as they navigate their next endeavors.

The Duke and Duchess have been fairly open about the pressure they've felt since stepping into the limelight. Lest we forget the time Meghan sued the Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter she wrote to her father, prompting Harry to publish a statement on the British media's "bullying" of his wife. When interviewed by ITV for their documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey the Duchess revealed that she'd been struggling to balance the harsh media spotlight with the simultaneous joys and stresses of being a new mother. "Thank you for asking [about it]," Meghan told an ITV anchor. "Because not many people have asked if I'm OK."

From the outside looking in, it seems Harry and Meghan are just normal people who were thrust into a really lavish and unimaginably public life. We wish them the best as they take some time to relax; hopefully, Meghan will relaunch her lifestyle blog in the meantime.