This month seems to be all about history repeating itself.
The military coup in Myanmar has continued, with an estimated 149 people being killed. This means that it’s been more than a month of uncertainty for the people of Myanmar. This isn’t the first time Myanmar has been ruled by the military and seen protests, it only became a democracy in 2011.
On a completely different note, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry gave a tell-all interview with Oprah. The interview brought up issues of racism and disregard for mental health. The press has drawn similarities between Meghan and Diana.
Protests in Myanmar
Following independence from Britain, Myanmar (Burma at the time), was plunged into conflict as parties tried to gain power. A military dictatorship eventually emerged and ruled with a totalitarian hand. They censored the internet and silenced any political protest with imprisonment and torture. Even a SIM card would cost as much as $500 USD. This all changed when Aung Sung Su was democratically elected in 2011.
On February 2nd, the military stages a coup and declared a state of emergency, preventing any elections from taking place. The reason for this was a claim of election fraud on the part of Sang Su’s party, whether there was any traction to this claim is hard to tell. Sang Su was placed under house arrest for possession of illegal walkie-talkies and the military is attempting to charge her with corruption. However, all witnesses to the alleged crime are linked to the coup.
The United States and the European Union publicly condemned the coup, and Australia redirected its aid towards non-governmental organisations. The United Nations’ attempts to pass a statement of condemnation have been blocked by China.
Protests continue in spite of the rubber, and real, bullets used by the military to quash the uprising. The Guardian estimates 149 people have been killed. They have known democracy before and so they continue to fight relentlessly for their right to vote, once more.
During the Oprah interview, Meghan Markle said she had struggled with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, yet, when seeking help the palace remained silent. This mirrors the experience that Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry’s mother, was subjected to. More importantly, Markle mentions ‘concerns and conversations’ regard her, and her children(s) race from her new family, which begs the question, has the royal family changed as much as we once thought?
Diana married Prince Charles at 19 when he was 32. She often felt that she was not ‘taught’ how to be royal, a sentiment that Markle also felt.
Diana recounted that, because of her naivety, she would often be taunted by Charles. Diana started suffering from bulimia after joining the royals and became so mentally ill that she threw herself down the stairs in an attempt to get help. It was only when the media picked up on her unhealthy low weight that she was granted a therapist, but the palace chose the man and Diana didn’t take to him.
The book, ‘Diana: Her True Story, Her True Words’, detailed the extent of Diana’s illness and how she hadn’t been helped. The author, Andrew Morton’s interviews with Diana were later released, following her death.
Markle’s story shares a common group with Diana’s. She was also not taught how to be a princess, and when the tabloids slandered her for this, the palace instructed her to not respond.
‘Not only was I not being protected, but they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but not tell the truth to protect my husband and me.’
The result was a decline in mental health, Markle said she had thoughts of suicide and that she was scared to be alone. Harry said he was scared of ‘history repeating itself.’ When the pair stepped back to take a less senior role in the royal family, they were instead stripped of their security and allowance. Harry said that at the time he was living off what his mother had left him in her will. It was only then that they decided to move to LA and take advantage of the media deals that were offered to them.
The looming question remains, who is the anonymous racist royal?
A family member, not the Queen or Prince Phillip according to Prince Harry in his interview with Oprah, had speculated as to what the colour of Archie’s skin would be, and how that would affect public opinion. Harry declined the opportunity to name the family member, but it just shows that the royal family’s attempts to scrub their colonialist history clean, have perhaps not been so successful.
Since the interview, the Queen released a statement saying that Harry and Meghan are ‘much-loved family members and that the issues raised in the interview will be dealt with privately.’