Some royal watchers are saying that Meghan Markle’s accent is sounding a bit more British these days, and, true to form, the internet is all stirred up with speculations as to why. In a recent HBO clip of the upcoming documentary featuring Queen Elizabeth, called Queen of the World, the Duchess of Sussex sounds just slightly more British in one segment. Really, like the teeniest, tiniest bit British — you know, as one might if one moved to England and married a prince. Regardless, some are talking about the Duchess's apparent accent change, according to E! News Online. But Meghan Markle’s accent change is actually totally normal, and it’s not at all unusual for people to shift accents in new environments, according to a 2017 study from McGill University.
Researchers found that accents can change a lot due to different factors, and some people are more susceptible to accent shifts than others are. Published in the journal Language, the study examines how people’s accents can change over time when influenced by social interactions — even well into adulthood. According to a McGill University press release on the study, linguistics researchers found that both in the short-and long-term, accent changes among adults are common depending on who people are interacting with.
The press release states that the study’s authors researched how accent shifts play out on the reality TV show, Big Brother UK, where contestants live in isolation for three months. Show participants are also continually recorded for the duration of their time on the show while interacting with other contestants only — providing researchers with the perfect “natural experiment,” the press release further notes.
Researchers found that “accent change over the medium term is ubiquitous: large daily fluctuations in each sound variable are the norm, while longer-term change over weeks to months occurs in a minority of cases.” McGill’s press release notes that this research combined with previous studies shows that people’s accent shifts, depending on where they live and who they hang out with, are complex, and also totally normal. Moreover, researchers found that accent changes can differ from person to person, and that some people are more likely to shift accents over time than others are — especially with exposure to a new accent over a period of months or years.
So, what does all this mean for the Duchess of Sussex? Well, given that she lives in England now, and her husband and in-laws — pretty much her entire social circle — are not just British, but British royalty, she might be experiencing some accent shifting without any conscious input on her part. Or, maybe she’s taking elocution lessons and voice coaching as some spectators suggest.
Regardless, is it really such a big deal? With all Meghan’s charitable efforts focused on sexual assault survivors and work with the United Nations (among many others), I think it’s fair to say that Twitter’s got bigger fish to fry than whether or not the Duchess of Sussex is changing her accent.