Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday night was the kind of primetime earthquake celebrity interview we don’t get very often anymore. It was more shocking and upsetting than anyone had anticipated. It was something of a human tragedy. It was a testament to Oprah’s peerless powers, and to Meghan’s canny, self-assured deployment of her showbiz skills. It was yet another glimpse of the monstrousness at the core of the monarchy, a mythos of grandeur and service resting on centuries of exploitation, corruption, human misery, and, yes, racism. It was a reminder that the British royal family is no match for the power of American cultural production, as embodied by Oprah.
It was also, unexpectedly, an advertisement for unions.
At one point, as Meghan was discussing the relentlessness of the trauma she had experienced, she mentioned that she had tried to turn to Buckingham Palace for help. “I went to human resources,” she said. “I said, ‘I need help, because in my old job there was a union, and they would protect me.'” (Buckingham Palace had said there was no help to be given because she was not a paid employee, she added.)
Yes! There is power in a union! Meghan might seem to be an unlikely apostle for the benefits of unions (and perhaps she can talk to her new business partners, Apple and Netflix, about their worker policies) but who are we to snub her? She offered a reminder that the union is there for all of its members, from the bottom to the top of the pay scale, and that bosses are a force in opposition to every worker, even the ostensibly powerful ones. (Full disclosure: almost all of us at Discourse Blog are proud members of the Writers Guild of America East.)
Meghan’s erstwhile union, SAG-AFTRA, did not miss the moment.
It’s unclear what impact the interview as a whole will have on the monarchy. i=It is hard to imagine what could be more damaging in the 21st century than the sorts of allegations Meghan and Harry leveled, but the troglodytic British media is already in full meltdown mode, and the royals are notorious for their ability to push through scandal, so I won’t predict too much there.
What I will predict, though, is that Meghan’s intervention on behalf of unions will linger for a good spell. If they’re smart, union organizers should get that quote circulating in their caucuses, and use it in their social media campaigns, and bring it up in their bargaining sessions. The union makes us strong! Comrade Meghan said so.