Meghan Markle’s birthday is just around the corner on August 4, so of course the royal family and its fans have been excitedly preparing for the big day — just kidding! There are already rumors of a ~scandalous~ birthday trip in the making, and we can already hear the Duchess’ critics clearing their throats for the latest. A source claims that Meghan wants to spend a birthday weekend outside Los Angeles in Montecito with some close friends, and it’s only a matter of time before the finger-wagging outrage over Meghan’s decision to travel amid the coronavirus pandemic begins. Upon taking a closer look at what those plans actually entail, it sounds like the Duchess has (as usual) put a lot of thought into how to pull this off safely — more thought than any of the people I see hanging out on social media these days, anyway.
But being a former Duchess comes with great responsibility. And even though Meghan, husband formerly known as Prince Harry, and sweet baby Archie have been hiding out (er, living) in Los Angeles for nearly all of 2020, missing milestones like Princess Beatrice’s wedding and nephew Prince George’s birthday, Meghan continues to be held to a standard she explicitly sought to flee by leaving the royal family.
A source told The Daily Mail that the former Suits star and Harry have been feeling “cooped up” (despite their sweet digs), a feeling to which I’m sure all of us in our various stages of lockdown can relate. So, like so many people you know, and possibly you yourself, Meghan plucked up her courage and tried to plan a small, safe, controlled gathering: some way to follow all the new guidelines for safety, while still experiencing a few of the things she’d been so missing: a change in scenery, her friends’ faces.
The plan became a weekend trip to Montecito, about a 90 minute drive from Los Angeles. She planned to invite a small group of friends, the source relayed, all of whom would be rapid-tested prior to the outing. Their time spent together would be entirely outdoors, in an area large enough to allow for social distancing.
“Whatever she ends up doing for her birthday, Meghan said it will be low-key,” the source explained. “She said she doesn’t want to come across as being careless and irresponsible.”
It’s no surprise that those criticisms are on Meghan’s mind. She’s been called a lot worse for a lot less — and unfortunately, there are some valid critiques of even the most careful travel plans right now. The absolute safest thing one can do is avoid nonessential travel, and Meghan’s trip would certainly be classified as such. But all of us know we’ve had to make compromises in lockdown, of what we can and can’t live without.
Maybe Meghan’s decision to take a birthday trip like this will truly feel like too much of a risk for you, and you’ll know it’s a choice you wouldn’t yourself make. But don’t demonize Meghan for it any more than you’ve demonized your friends, parents, and co-workers who have made decisions you might not have made yourself during these unsettling, unprecedented months. And don’t allow Meghan Markle to be indiscriminately dragged through the mud by critics who just as likely have been ignoring social distancing themselves.
The good news? Meghan Markle’s birthday plans sound really lovely, if she pulls it off. The bad news? Her haters will have a field day either way.
Click here for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s complete relationship timeline.