Is Meghan really a Social influencer in Royal Circles?
Today we begin a new year filled with aspirations with new hopes, new challenges and perhaps being somewhat introspective and reflecting on what we might do to moderate our attitudes towards self and others.
As I browse through the tabloids and broadsheets I cannot help but search my thesaurus to find adequate words to describe the Duchess of Sussex’s social influence over her husband Prince Harry, and reports of her banning Harry from drinking alcohol tea and coffee in favour of water, and being an encourager to take more exercise. What might you ask is really going on here? Before Christmas as we prepared to celebrate that lowly birth of Christ in Bethlehem, we were reminded of the Monarch’s spending Christmas at Sandringham, where her late father King George VI passed away.This holds a very special place emotionally in her heart soul and mind. We know the profound and extraordinary social influence the Queen has for Royal protocol and tradition, and how the senior and junior Royals must adhere rigidly to precision and accuracy when being her guests over Christmas . She demands respect in all its domains and this extends to our LA Hollywood Princess Meghan, who is seen to be the radical personality who feels justified in chipping away at Royal tradition to ensure that it is cool for the young millennials and the snowflake generation, something personality psychologists call self focusing.
The Risque Meghan’s Personality
However, we have read tabloid reports just last week in the Daily Mail on December 29th which in a sense is a reminder of the growth of her self worth self esteem, core ingredients of her personality type entitled “ A Very Wacky Wedding”. This report described the young 30 year old Meghan’s’ first wedding to Trevor Engelson, a very successful Hollywood Tv producer, the hot shot of LA and a guy worth knowing on the celebrity circuit. This four day bash at the Jamaican Inn reports that a bell boy in this five star hotel, was given money to buy sufficient marijuana for 100 guests on behalf of the American couple. At this point in time the fast rising tv actress had begun to demonstrate her existentialist personality traits being a free spirit , doing what she felt was right for Meghan. With her humanitarian concern for the homeless in LA and her inquisitive mind asking searching questions about God to her RE teacher, and her knowledge of the scriptures, it’s difficult to square this with what is to follow. Whilst we can attribute this behaviour to her innocence and naivety, developmentally her core attitudes and social perception of others were susceptible to change . Meghan and her then fiancé thought it “cool and cheeky ” to hand out muslin gift bags containing cannabis joints to their wedding guests according to sources who attended. Such was the contrast to the Royal Wedding spectacular in May 2018, of the” Fairy Princess “in the sombre confines of St Georges Chapel Windsor, where she is reported to have asked for air fresheners to take away the” musty air” inside the Chapel. The words could only be expressed by an LA Hollywood film star lacking in knowledge of the centuries old ecclesiastical tradition of the Royal family and high Anglicanism of which the Queen is extremely proud. Meghan’s request were raising eyebrows such were her failed attempts to socially influence senior Royals and her and Prince Harry’s aides. Surely there was a much more musty atmosphere in the Jamaican Inn riotous four day jamboree .
Currently we see how her personality has matured over the years since her first marriage to Trevor Engelson. Her half brother Thomas Markle Jr was a cannabis grower smoking it with his friends, and her father Thomas the renowned LA film lighting director would have occasional sniffs of cocaine. But in her teenage years as she explored her identity and self concept, she had a very conservative attitude towards drugs and drug abuse. The dominant and assertive young Meghan now an adult and film actress with her feminist ideological perspective on the role of women, might have been more introspective and reflective as she would have recalled the foolhardy stupid imprudent and thoughtless behaviour supplying party bags containing marijuana to wedding guests.
In terms of being an aspiring film actress and an advocate for women, especially African American women who were oppressed, and including all other women neither black or white and all shades in between, her personality went into overdrive. Meghan was to be seen as a social influencer, one to whom the Unites States of America would listen to as she exhorted women to rise up, be seen, and be noticed.
Its is difficult for the readers of any British or American newspaper not to notice the striking radical and unpredictable Meghan Markle now very pregnant with their first child. No other Royal, even Kate the Duchess of Cambridge, in her complete humility and graciousness, would have attempted to “tone down” Royal protocol causing not only ripples across the Royal aides, but more of am emotional tsunami and utter embarrassment. Who on earth would rise at 5.00am every morning and begin to fire out constant emails to all her staff, PA and other staff, like a Government chief Whip in action like a shepherd attending and leading his sheep into green pastures. Not so, more like the Spanish bull fighter in the Bullring flashing the red flag at a fiery dilated bulls eyes.
We ponder the question….. what is social influence in Royal Households and does it really matter? It comprises the social psychological processes whereby people directly or indirectly influence the thoughts , feelings, and actions of others. There is a purpose to it and that is in everyday terms we ask how another individual, such as Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, can persuade others, namely Prince Harry, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, her father in law Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, and ultimately the Queen herself, to do as she asks. Meghan is not even an American aristocrat, although she has mixed with the LA aristocrat fraternity and socialites but in terms of pedigree and human genetics, she is a lower mortal like ourselves. Its at this point where social learning and social perceptions come into play as Meghan would have seen much of the lifestyles speech patterns that she was not accustomed to and at that time she had infinite admiration ironically, for Diana The Princess of Wales.
Her mother Doria Ragland would have been the original source of feminism, a truly inspirational woman, an encourager and one who used all her powers of persuasion and social influence to ensure Meghan achieved her dreams. How can one persuade another especially a majority group such as the Senior Royals to change their beliefs attitudes opinions and so on? Meghan was sensitive enough to synchronize her attitudes towards Prince Harry and Prince William’s goals to reach out to teenagers and others with mental health difficulties bringing them hope and health where they will have good jobs for the future also facilitated by the Princes Trust and its huge impact on society and cultural life in Britain and in the Commonwealth. In Meghan we see a personality type that is mature and one that is a distinct contrast to the Meghan who partied with new hubby Trevor all those years ago at the Jamaican Inn.
Social norms of our British Royal family are steeped in tradition but also in good sound common sense. “The Firm “ has to have structure with clearly defined roles for all members of the extensive Royal family and it is expected that all who work within the realms of the Royal Palaces toe the line and adhere to the stiff Royal protocol. No one challenges what is part of the Monarchy and its social etiquette, the Queen reigns and that is final. Come along Meghan, with her well grounded LA personality and acculturation issues who madly fell in love with our dashing Prince Harry, where Meghan knew little of her future husband and very little abut the British Royals except the late and beloved Princess Diana. Meghan’s personality traits show a range of basic motives which I have analysed in previous commentary Her self efficacy and self belief motivated her to show her achieved status as a Hollywood actress, “If I can do it so can you “! It’s what we psychologists call minority social influence, the belief that Meghan feels she has the inner power to socially influence the Queen and senior Royals at least into making amendments to how things are done in “The Firm”. Moscovici ( 1976) the eminent psychological scholar argued that power and social influence are very different. If Meghan is seen as a social influencer, then as a women and an HRH, she has the ability and aptitude to produce subjective acceptance of her quests in other senior Royals. I argue she may have the social influence but much of it is charismatic by nature, as much a junior Royal without the power to cause others in the Royal Households to change and be complaint . To who one might ask?
My view at this moment in time is that Meghan needs to refocus her powers of social influence and persuasion towards her father and break this uncalled for and embarrassing impasse. It is embarrassing to the Queen and all the Royal family. He is a person and apart from Meghan’s perception of what has caused this deep rift between them, there are psychological strategies that would restore the conflict and tension. My advice to the Duchess is as follows:
1. Above all else Thomas Markle is your father and out of resect for him and as an Anglican and Christian, which faith she now is said to uphold, this requires a breakthrough by reaching out in complete forgiveness and understanding. Thomas also might do likewise. How can the Duchess reach out to the teenagers and those on the margin and ignore her father in Rosito. Forgiveness means letting go of the causes, bury them and move on in love trust and support for each other.
2. Avoidance can make things worse for Meghan. The longer it takes by Meghan’s procrastination, the worse the problems become and this will cause problems for her relationship with Prince Harry.
3. Meghan needs to reflect on her own emotions and also her fathers emotions as each ponders the next few months after the arrival of the Royal baby. Will she invite her father to the child’s baptism? This new arrival will make the biggest statement in British Royal history in the context of racial identities, and here we have a new precedent. Love for they neighbour and those who seem or appear different by race colour and creed or none at all. It will establish new perspectives son tolerance of others and socially influence the snowflake generation
4. Meghan must realize the depth and breadth of the difficulty and its impact on the world stage. She is no longer a Hollywood film star and could do well showing the younger generation how to resolve family conflicts and show forgiveness and understanding. Clarify what the avoidance is al about.
Arthur Cassidy Ph.D