Being engaged to a prince, frankly, sounds exhausting, but one only hopes that Meghan Markle can rely on at least a few perks — namely, access to the Queen's veritable army of adorable corgis, the honor of having your face put on weird Etsy merchandise, and, of course, the official royal gifts that come in from around the world. It seems that Markle got her first taste of that this week, but the internet is less-than-pleased; as it turns out, Meghan Markle's first official royal gift was an apron, which is a little ... well. Yikes.
On January 17, an official list of gifts presented to the Royal Family was published, including one from an individual in Finland that has now sent quite the ripple through Twitter — namely, the apron for Meghan Markle. To be fair, the list says the apron was gifted to both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, with the list stating it was "Received on behalf of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle". What's more, Prince George and Princess Charlotte were gifted with a baking set to share, which may have been intended as a tie-in for the gift. Furthermore, Markle has self-described as a "foodie" in the past and often shared recipes on social media prior to her recent deletion of her Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Still, as far as gifts go, this one didn't exactly strike the right chord. People are concerned primarily because the gift of the apron harks back to the old "women belong in the kitchen" cliché — and seeing as Meghan Markle is a prominent feminist with a history of activism that dates back to when she was literally 11 years old, it's clear why the gift might rub the wrong way. In fact, Markle (now famously) appeared on Nickelodeon as a kid to speak out about sexism in an ad for dish soap — and voiced her concerns adamantly enough that Proctor & Gamble changed it.
Markle later became a U.N. Women's Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership in 2014, where she recounted the story in an empowering speech aimed at young women.
Markle made it clear in her first official interview with Prince Harry that she intends to continue trying to make a difference in the world, and they have already set forth on that statement. The two made a joint appearances for World AIDS Day and discussed gender equality at a community radio station, among other planned engagements to come.
That said, it makes sense that many are concerned on Markle's behalf about the implication of the gifted apron.
But people are pointing out among the controversy that Markle has been vocal in the past about her love for cooking; she used to run a lifestyle blog with her own recipes called The Tig, and in an article on TODAY posted in 2012, she wrote, "I love food. Unapologetically so. With long shooting hours for season two of USA’s Suits, it's important to balance the decadent treats that make my heart go pitter pat, and the nourishment that fuels my body. My favorite foods run the gamut from healthy to indulgent, but rest assured, they are always delicious. Just like my character, Rachel Zane, I'm a foodie, so if I'm going to eat it, it has to be good."
Other people harked back to the now famous chicken roast proposal — which probably has little to do with the apron, but is still worth mentioning only because this is probably the best accidental curveball in romance tropes that 2017 could have given us.
If anything, though, the discussion that's been taking place online about it is a productive one — it serves as a reminder that we still have progress to make when it comes to the way we perceive women's roles, and a reminder that we are all extremely lucky to have someone as feminist, proactive, and committed to making a difference in the world as Meghan Markle in the spotlight. Maybe next time, though, international gift-givers, we go with something a tad less sexist — maybe starting with that bottle of gin someone else received on the list.