Meghan Markle and Gina Miller don't recognise their limits. Good for them.

If there was a current day version of the famous Harry Enfield spoof commercial , it would be "Brown and Black Women: Know Your Limits!" These past few days have demonstrated that you have no business either dating royals or leading campaigns to uphold parliamentary sovereignty . You see, there's only one thing worse than a woman who does not know her place, and that is a non-white woman who does not know her place.

In a nation still reeling from Ms Gina Miller allegedly launching a campaign against Britain's sovereignty, along came Ms Meghan Markle to romantically ensnare an actual sovereign.

Granted, Ms Markle's relationship with Prince Harry was always going to send tabloid hounds her way, but the fixation on her racial background, the digging into her family's past to make tenuous trite points about her being a descendant of slaves in a relationship with a royal, the pearl-clutching at her dreadlocked mother and the consequent potential threat to the purity of the royal bloodline, were all so intense that today it prompted Prince Harry to issue a statement, striking in its tone of genuine indignation.

He mentioned in particular "the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and Web article comments".

When affable, privileged, "non-woke" wearer of Nazi fancy dress Prince Harry issues a press release abhorring the "racial undertones" of the media, you know we have a problem.

The air was already thick with the resentment against Ms Miller, another woman who does not know her place. Not only does she pretend to know something about British law, but dares to lead a whole campaign in the most toxic of environments when the stakes could not be higher.

Once the pictures of Ms Miller surfaced, it was clear that she was in for a rough ride. One could almost hear the snap of the gloves coming off.

The backlash, even in a post-Brexit land when we are daily and wearily becoming accustomed and numbed to racial injury, was staggering. She received threats of everything from sexual abuse to death. Even the most diluted of media coverage subliminally communicated the question: who does she think she is?

Depressingly, these women were always going to get abuse just for being female, and in Ms Miller's case, even if she had been a man.

But the multiple offences - of being a woman, of colour, attractive, and most infuriatingly of all, of refusing to be downtrodden - meant it was inevitable that Ms Miller's principled campaign, even if you don't agree with her, was collapsed into the view that she was an uppity social climber who had somehow inveigled her way into a position of power.

At Ms Miller the dog whistles screeched, "foreign born", "thrice married", "ex-model", "privately educated". Likewise, Ms Markle is "unfit", "pushy", the daughter of a woman whose family "almost certainly included slaves".

All this is shorthand for the offence of trespassing on the manicured lawn of "our" businesses. It is not possible that these women have any motivations that are genuine, let alone any innate ability or right to care for their country or simply to fall in love. Mix this bigotry with garden variety misogyny and in effect you have a recipe for a ban from active public life.

It was ever thus, and it is increasingly common, whatever your race or gender, to be attacked for whatever sets you apart from the acceptable mainstream (such as being an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer), but there is an increasingly acceptable nativist edge to it all, and it is alarming how much it is not alarming. On this, one part of Prince Harry's statement in particular resonated. "He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game'. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game - it is her life and his."

There is a certain resignation at the inevitability of all of this, which many, including myself, are guilty of.

When I first saw Ms Miller reading out her statement on the steps of the high court, and when the first pictures of Ms Markle emerged, I thought, God help them: as if it were the start of a grim game to which we all know the rules and which they are destined to play.

It is not a game and there is no "price one has to pay" when women such as Ms Markle and Ms Miller don't know their limits. Here's hoping they never do.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Meghan Markle and Gina Miller don't recognise their limits. Good for them.'. Subscribe