Meghan Markle will forever have an uphill battle to face in the eyes of the media and may never get a fair shake from growing scrutiny surrounding her aptitude as a mother.
The Duchess of Sussex was publicly skewered by "Something Borrowed" author Emily Giffin on Wednesday in since-deleted Instagram Story posts for being “unmaternal” and a “phony” after Markle celebrated her son Archie’s first birthday by propping the toddler on her lap while reading “Duck! Rabbit!” with the young royal.
However, author Leslie Carroll -- who chronicled Markle and Prince Harry’s romance in her 2018 book, “American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry" -- told Fox News that the former actress will likely be the target of backlash for many years to come, and said critics of the “Elephant” narrator should table their unrealistic expectations and pump the brakes on lambasting her, regardless of how they feel about her and Harry’s decision to "step back" as senior members of the royal family.
“Meghan was flogged in the press for choosing to keep her baby's birth a private affair, for not appearing in public right after she gave birth -- as Kate and Diana before her had done, although they were mothers to more direct heirs to the throne; and Meghan was not -- and for not showing the public a continuous stream of photos of Archie,” Carroll told Fox News on Friday.
“Meghan was also condemned somewhat for choosing not to give Archie a title -- and even for giving him an unusual name -- although Anne, the Princess Royal did not give her children titles," Carroll continued. "Moreover, in the department of unusual royal baby names: Anne named her daughter Zara -- and Anne's grandchildren have names like Savannah, Mia and Isla -- but we do not see Anne ‘Mommy shamed,’ nor her daughter, Zara. People wouldn't dare.”
Carroll has witnessed Markle, 38, and Harry, 35, in their private element as parents and described the former actress to be a “nurturer” not only at heart but in practice -- a trait that Carroll said Markle was criticized for even during her interactions with those she meets and mentors.
“What I have observed is that she is a loving mother and adores their son,” Carroll said. “Motherhood is a learning curve for everyone; I'm not sure anyone is a ‘natural’ at it. But she is a very loving woman and a nurturer: we see this in her interactions with those she meets and mentors; and even in her brief encounters on rope lines during royal walkabouts.”
“Like Harry and Diana, she's a hugger,” Carroll added. “A naturally affectionate woman, she loves to give love. And she has been criticized for that, too.”
As far as Carroll is concerned, Markle is simply a product of her upbringing, which Carroll believes aided Markle tremendously in her transition into motherhood.
“That's exactly what every child needs from a mother,” she said of Markle’s nurturing style. “Meghan also had a terrific role model: She was raised by a mother whom she was exceptionally close to, as well: Doria Ragland -- the only family member at her wedding.”
Furthermore, Rosalind Chow, associate professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, believes that Markle could also be subjected to even more criticism from the media and other detractors as she tries to integrate herself into a regular working society.
“So much of working is about building and maintaining relationships; once you've left -- for any reason == it's very difficult to stay on people's radars once you're out,” Chow explained to Fox News on Friday. “Getting back in and having to rebuild those networks can be very difficult.”
“The other thing that comes up are the conclusions that other people draw about you from having stepped off the career track: you will forever be dogged by concerns about your commitment to your career,” Chow continued. “Will you be willing to put in the hours? Travel? What is your aspiration and ambition? Women who don't have children face these questions when they are younger, which makes it so that they are less likely to get good opportunities, and then women who do have children face these questions upon their return. It's a lose-lose situation for most.”
Carroll also took exception with the idea that much of the negative reactions surrounding Harry and Markle’s decision to move away from the U.K. seems to be tailored only to Markle and not Harry, given the fact many large family decisions like the ones we’ve seen from the royal couple are usually made as a union.
“Note, too, that in this paradigm Harry isn't given any agency by the haters or the tabloids for being part of the decision to name their child or to keep Archie's birth a private matter, et cetera,” she said. “The press, and the Twittersphere make everything about Meghan being a bad mother.”
Nonetheless, the royal biographer sees Markle being able to juggle the balance of being a working mother and believes the support she receives, not only from her mother but her friends, will be paramount in Archie’s development as a child.
“What has changed Meghan by stepping back from her full-time duties as a royal is that she will likely have more time to spend with Archie, to enjoy his development day by day; and once the lockdown is over, Archie will be able to spend time with grandma Doria,” Carroll explained.
“It's also likely that we will see Meghan able to carve out a work-life balance that includes a lot of quality time with little Archie; and her fans and those at her patronages will be delighted because they support her and love her and wish her well," she added.
Carroll maintained that much of Harry and Markle’s respective childhoods were spent jumping between their parents' homes and does not foresee the pair reciprocating that lifestyle for their son.
“We can't forget that there are a lot of people who are rooting for the Sussexes and want to see them happy,” she said. “Both Harry and Meghan grew up shuttling between the homes of each of their parents. But as parents themselves, Harry and Meghan seem more similar to each other than not -- and eager to give Archie so much love.”
“Don't forget all the times Harry said when he was younger that he couldn't wait to become a dad -- he was just waiting for the right woman to be the mother of his child(ren),” Carroll added. “Meghan is that mother.”
Fox News' Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.