Prince Harry visit to Cardiff Castle
Prince Harry visit to Cardiff Castle

Meghan Markle is not Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono did not break up the Beatles.

"She certainly didn't break the group up, the group was breaking up," Paul McCartney told interviewer David Frost back in 2012.

As McCartney was actually in the group, his version of events should stand as historical fact.

Yet five decades after the Fab Four called it quits, the Yoko Ono myth persists.

It took mere minutes for the avant-garde artist and peace activist's name to pop up after the announcement last week that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex intend to quit the Royal Family.

It was inevitable Meghan Markle would be blamed for Prince Harry’s split from the royal family. Picture: Ben Birchall – WPA Pool / Getty Images
It was inevitable Meghan Markle would be blamed for Prince Harry’s split from the royal family. Picture: Ben Birchall – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Instead of the shock social media post being regarded as news that a couple with a young son wanted a career change and to relocate to a country where they felt safe to raise their son, Meghan Markle was immediately dubbed "Yoko Ono", alongside the Megxit tag.

Of course, it all had to be Markle's fault.

An independent, intelligent woman, who enjoyed a successful acting career and parlayed her profile into philanthropic endeavours championing equal access to education for girls, is cast as being the influential outsider who instigated yet another royal scandal.

According to a raft of commentators, Markle's strength is pulling Harry's strings, she has him bewitched to the point he can no longer think for himself, their decisions are not joint and he is manipulated by this American interloper.

She is "Yoko Ono".

Markle would probably welcome the comparison, just not in its negative connotation which has become embedded in popular culture despite its lack of truth.

Because the truth is, Ono did NOT split up the Beatles.

What she did do, as an artist whose reputation was already established both in the US and UK before she met John Lennon in London, was turn her future husband onto the avant-garde.

That influence naturally inspired Lennon to want to push his own creativity into uncharted waters, both inside and outside of the Beatles.

Yoko Ono, pictured with husband John Lennon, inspired the former Beatle. Picture: AP Photo/Sands
Yoko Ono, pictured with husband John Lennon, inspired the former Beatle. Picture: AP Photo/Sands

McCartney told Frost that without Ono, Lennon probably wouldn't have written Imagine or any of the other iconic songs which emerged after the Beatles split.

"I don't think he would have done that without Yoko, so I don't think you can blame her for anything," McCartney said.

"When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant-garde side, her view of things, so she showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him. So it was time for John to leave, he was definitely going to leave [one way or another]."

Ono herself thanked McCartney for absolving her of blame for the split, even as he did admit he was uncomfortable about her presence in the studio during the band's final recording sessions.

But here we are, 50 years later, and a woman like Markle, with considerable experience of life and clearly regarded as an equal by her partner Prince Harry, being accused of breaking up the Royal family.

Meghan Markle. Picture: Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images
Meghan Markle. Picture: Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Perhaps the most ironic and somewhat chuckle-worthy employment of the Yoko Ono myth in Australia was when Daniel Johns took time out from Silverchair to record and perform as The Dissociatives with his good friend and musical collaborator Paul Mac.

Some fans were apoplectic the classically trained and electronic music pioneer Mac was allegedly taking Johns away from his grunge rock sound.

Mac dealt with the backlash by sporting a Yoko Ono T-shirt when he joined the band as a touring keyboardist in the mid 2000s.

As for Markle, she would look great in a Yoko Ono T-shirt, and should also take some inspiration from the vibrant, relevant and creative life the artist has lived since shaking off the haters.

"I'm starting to understand something interesting," Ono said in 2013. "If all those people hadn't bashed me, what would I be doing now? What I am now was made by all those terrible incidents. I thought it was terrible all those years, but when I think about it now, I realise it was a blessing."

The Yoko Ono myth should now be embraced as a symbol of thriving rather than just surviving, which is what Harry and Meghan have wanted all along.

Kathy McCabe is News Corp Australia's national music writer.

 

Yoko Ono. Picture: Renee Nowytarger / News Corp Australia
Yoko Ono. Picture: Renee Nowytarger / News Corp Australia

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