In an evening briefing on Wednesday, Donald Trump took some time out from refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power to—once again—criticize Meghan Markle, telling the press corps that he is “not a fan.” Of course Donald Trump doesn’t like Meghan Markle. She’s a self-confident woman of color who doesn’t buy into his bullshit. It’s also squarely within his wheelhouse—the politics of white resentment—to attempt to make political hay out of her very existence.
This isn’t the first time Trump has spoke disapprovingly of Meghan, who doesn’t think much of Trump, either. In 2016—before Trump was elected and before her relationship with Harry, when she was still best known for her role on Suits—Meghan appeared on The Larry Wilmore Show and called him “divisive” and “misogynistic.” In advance of his 2019 visit to the United Kingdom, a reporter from the tabloid The Sun—in classic shit-stirring fashion—told him about the remarks, and Trump replied, “I didn’t know that. What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty,” before predicting that she will be “a very good” American princess. When the couple announced their relocation to the US, he announced on Twitter in March: “the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”
But it’s the couple’s activism, now that they’re free of the royal family’s conventions about political advocacy—and in particular Meghan’s—that has really got him mad. Meghan has spoken out about racial injustice and filmed an interview with Gloria Steinem; most recently, People reported, she and Harry appeared on ABC’s special dedicated to the Time 100, where Meghan reminded everyone it was National Voter Registration Day and framing the fight like so: “Every four years, we’re told, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime.’ But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.” Neither one of them has explicitly endorsed Joe Biden, but it’s pretty easy to guess what her ballot will say.
Trump, when asked about their “seemingly urging people to vote for Joe Biden,” replied: “I’m not a fan of hers and I would say this, and she probably has heard that, but I wish a lot of luck to Harry—he’s going to need it,” he said, ABC News reported.
Trump has talked a great deal, in uncharacteristically awe-struck tones, about his respect for Queen Elizabeth II; a New York Times piece in 2019 connects it to his mother, a Scottish immigrant who loved the royals for their grandeur, unlike his father. Trump is a royals fan of a very specific flavor, one impressed by the sheer imperial pagentry that, historically, is intimately connected with British dominance over the rest of the world. The majesty of The Crown is the ultimate fantasy for Trump. His fascination has extended to other members of the family—but not the respect. From that same Times piece:
Selina Scott, a British journalist who interviewed him for a documentary in 1995, recalled that as soon as she entered his office in Trump Tower, “he wanted to know the intimate details of the deteriorating state of the marriage” between Charles and Diana. After the two divorced, in 1996, Ms. Scott later wrote, Mr. Trump sent Diana “massive bouquets of flowers, each worth hundreds of pounds,” accompanied by handwritten notes.
In 1997, shortly after Diana had died in a car accident, Mr. Trump told the television journalist Stone Phillips that he regretted not having asked her on a date.
He also blamed Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when a French magazine published topless shots snatched on vacation: “Who wouldn’t take Kate’s picture and make lots of money if she does the nude sunbathing thing?” he tweeted.
But his attacks on Meghan have a special rancor that echoes the relationship between the woman formerly known as the Duchess of Sussex and the British tabloid press. Both are ultimately preoccupied with her “fitness” for the job, whether she even belongs in the orbit of the royal family at all, a question that is deeply grounded in both her race and her immense self-possession. Note his similar concern for who will “pay for” Meghan and Harry (when, of course, there are plenty of other royals hanging out on the payroll). That echo is no surprise because there’s a continuity between them. Trump is in no small part the creation of the New York tabloid press and Fox News, both of which are heavily owned and shaped by Rupert Murdoch and his News Corps empire; Murdoch also owns a good chunk of the British tabloid press, including The Sun.
In other words, a woman of color standing confidently, gracefully in her own power and influence is an affront to Trump’s entire worldview.