Meghan Markle podcast doubles down on biographer’s disputed story

Meghan Markle’s long-awaited new podcast appears to be responding to a particularly vocal critic whose royal biography made headlines in the summer of 2022.

The Duchess of Sussex’s Weekly Show Archetypes fell on Spotify on August 23 to media fanfare, with the headlines focusing on the hair-raising story of his son Archie narrowly avoiding being caught in a fire during a royal tour of South Africa as he was not yet five months old.

However, without fanfare or direct reference, Meghan’s opening show had the effect of applauding a biographer whose high-profile accusations filled news sites in July.

Tom Bower’s book Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors challenged a famous story about a feminist campaign Meghan allegedly started when she was 11, described her as ambitious and suggested she had claimed to be friends with tennis star Serena Williams.

Archetypes had answers for all three points when Meghan interviewed Williams about the negative tropes that hold women back.

Meghan Markle, seen at the Invictus Games 2022, in The Hague, Netherlands on April 16, 2022, described her friendship with Serena Williams (inset, together when they first met in 2014) in her ‘Archetypes’ podcast . Their conversation contrasts with Tom Bower’s (inset, right) account of their relationship in his book Revenge.
Karwai Tang/WireImage/Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for DirecTV/Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Meghan’s Ivory Clear dish soap campaign

Meghan begins her podcast by telling a famously disputed story in Bower’s book about letters she sent calling on Procter & Gamble to change a dish soap ad.

The anecdote was one of the stories to emerge about the Duchess early in her relationship with Prince Harry, before they married.

An advertisement for Ivory Clear dish soap stated that “women are fighting
greasy pots and pans,” leading the boys at her school to suggest that “that’s where women belong. In the kitchen,” the Duchess said.

Meghan says she has written to the company, as well as Hillary Clinton and others, asking for a change to the sexist wording.

Bower suggested Meghan relied on a much wider campaign, adding: ‘There was no evidence that her letter was even read.

He wrote: “Thomas Markle knew that thousands of American women were also annoyed. Many had sent protests to Procter & Gamble.

“With her father’s encouragement, Meghan joined the bandwagon. She wrote to the chairman of Procter & Gamble as well as Hillary Clinton, the First Lady. Like other protesters, she insisted that the slogan be changed to “People all over America”.

“After receiving no response, Thomas wrote follow-up letters demanding that the company and Clinton recognize his daughter.

“Nothing happened. Through his contacts, Thomas arranged for Linda Ellerbee, host of Nickelodeon, a children’s television channel run by Lucky Duck productions, to report Meghan’s protest to her school.

“Being interviewed in the TV film report, accompanied by a re-enactment clip of her ‘handwriting’ at Clinton, naturally boosted Meghan’s self-confidence.

“A few weeks later, Procter & Gamble bowed to the thousands of protests and changed the advertising slogan.”

Archetypes lined up on Meghan’s account of making a difference with her letter-writing campaign and included excerpts from Nick News segment, allowing viewers to hear the coverage for themselves.

Eleven-year-old Meghan can be heard saying: “So I was wondering if you would be able to change your ad to ‘people all over America’. Thank you, Meghan Markle.”

The Duchess added: “And would you believe it? Three months later, a new version of the advert appeared on televisions across the country. They changed the language of the advert – from ‘women’ to ‘ people “.

“Now, I could describe that as a moment of triumph. And make no mistake: it was. Because I learned that my one small action could have a ripple effect far beyond me.

“But this experience was also something bigger: a wake-up call. To the millions of ways, big and small, that our society tries to lock women up, to hold women back, to tell women who and what they should and can be.”

Tom Bower describes Meghan as ambitious

Ambition is the common thread of Archetypes episode one, while the series as a whole deals with the negative labels placed on women.

Bower has, both in her book and in interviews, called Meghan ambitious.

He quotes his father Thomas Markle stating that during his acting career on Combinations she started talking to him.

Bower added: “The previously compassionate creature was becoming a woman of strong opinions and greater ambitions. Brimming with money, her sense of duty and obligation began to slip. She finally had status. She was caught up in the serious.”

In a July interview on Hello Brittany promoting the book, he said: “Overall I got the impression of a very intelligent, very determined, very ambitious but also ruthless woman.”

Meghan told him Archetypes podcast: “So I don’t remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious until I started dating my current husband. And uh, apparently ambition is, uh…a terrible thing, terrible, for a woman who is – according to some.

“So since I felt the negativity behind it, it’s really hard not to feel it. I also can’t see it in the millions of girls and women who are getting smaller – so much smaller – on a regular basis.”

Meghan’s early friendship with Serena Williams

Bower also suggested in the book that Meghan overdid her friendship with Williams when she was working on a cover interview for vanity lounge with journalist Sam Kashner.

He wrote: “Over the next few days he called those whom Meghan had recommended as his friends. Serena Williams denied that she was Meghan’s friend but just an acquaintance.

“She gave him a cryptic quote: ‘You have to be who you are, Meghan. You can’t hide.'”

On Archetypesin an unrelated chat, Williams said, “We’ve been friends for so long. I’m super loyal, to a fault, you know that.”

Meghan replied: “Oh, I know. But do you remember when we first met? I was thinking about it. Do you remember?”

The Duchess then recounted a meeting in February 2014, more than three years before the vanity lounge cover — in New York before the Super Bowl the next day.

She said: “And I remember saying, Oh my God, who is Serena Williams going to talk to you? And I’m looking behind me, and when I turned around, you were there in front of me We became friends so quickly.”

“I mean, the things people think and the things people don’t…” she continued, without direct reference to Bower. “But in our friendship when you have to see things that characterize me badly, but you feel behind closed doors the pain that I go through and vice versa.”

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