Subhuti discusses a Type Three for our series: Enneagram Famous Figures.
Way to success
Success was a long time coming for Meghan Markle. As a little girl, she hung around the Hollywood film studios with her father, an award-winning lighting director, and was always clear that she wanted to be an actress. But she did not secure a major role in the movies or television until she was 30 years old. There were many small showbiz jobs, including that of being a decorative assistant in a TV game show, some modelling contracts, minor roles in several movies, but no big breakthrough.
Meghan attributed this, in part, to her mixed-race background, which didn’t easily fit into showbiz stereotypes: “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white,” she explained. “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”
What Meghan did learn, during these years, was how to shape her personality to match whatever role came her way. Like any actress, or actor, she developed the art of mutating into different characters, according to need. But Meghan Markle wasn’t just another dreamy Hollywood hopeful. She had drive and determination. Even at the age of eleven, she was experiencing that personal initiative and social intervention can make a difference.
While watching a series of television commercials as part of a class project, she spotted gender discrimination in an advertisement for dishwashing soap, which asserted that “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” The sexist implication was, of course, that men didn’t wash dishes.
Encouraged by her father, young Meghan wrote to Hillary Clinton, then America’s First Lady, and also to Procter & Gamble, the soap manufacturer, to get it changed. Her protest worked and the wording in the TV commercial was modified to “people all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”
At 22, Meghan graduated from university with a double major in theatre and international studies, and was ready to present herself to the world – especially the entertainment industry – as a smart, capable, good-looking woman with a talent for acting. Eight years of steady persistence eventually paid off. She won a role in the American TV series ‘Suits’, playing the part of a beautiful ‘paralegal’ who falls in love with one of the two main protagonists who work at the same law firm as her.
‘Suits’ wasn’t a runaway hit, but it was well received, running for seven seasons and bringing Meghan public recognition and a bankable income. Meanwhile, the young actress was venturing into humanitarian projects, speaking at international conferences on the need for gender equality and ways to end modern slavery.
So, looking at Meghan and her life story through the window of the Enneagram’s nine personality types, what do we have here? Which strategy did she develop, as a child, to help her survive and prosper?
No. 3 – ‘Shifting values to suit the task’
Without having a deep, intimate talk with Meghan herself, there’s always going to be a margin for error, but there’s one strategy that seems to fit snugly enough. Given her sharp looks, carefully groomed image, determination and effective drive, Meghan looks very much like a Three. Called “The Performer” by Helen Palmer, “The Achiever” by Don Riso, “Go” by Oscar Ichazo and, somewhat unkindly but nevertheless accurately, “Success Through Appearances” by Claudio Naranjo, the Type Three focuses on achieving personal success, which means getting the job done and looking good while doing so.
Threes experience little difficulty in shifting their values to suit the task. To others, such moves may look calculating, but Threes tend to see it as a pragmatic approach to life, as if answering the question “How can I make this work?”
For example, in terms of religious faith, Meghan’s father is an Anglican, while her mother is Protestant, and she was sent to study at an all-girl Catholic school in Los Angeles. Yet, when Meghan married her first husband, a Jewish film producer called Trevor Engelson, in 2011, their celebration included traditional elements of Jewish nuptials. This seemed to pose no problem for the young actress.
Now, however, another shift is required. Anyone wishing to marry into the British Royal Family needs to be a member of the Church of England, so Meghan has agreed to be baptised into the Royals’ faith before her marriage to Prince Harry in May this year.
Meeting Harry in 2016 proved a game changer, not just because she fell in love with this Windsor Royal, but because his invitation for her to play the glamorous role of a British princess prompted her to announce that she is giving up the rest of her acting career. She appears to be making this transition effortlessly, without so much as a tearful backward glance.
This is the kind of move that Threes can do without much trouble: seeing what the new challenge requires and modifying their behaviour accordingly. It may seem cynical to portray Meghan’s Royal role as acting, but that is the reality. British Royals are constantly onstage, exhibiting themselves as social role models for others to admire and look up to.
Meeting the British Media
Meghan’s stunning good looks and charming manner would seem to make this task easy, but there’s a major downside to the role: her exposure to brutal examination by the British media, especially the mass circulation tabloid press. When Meghan’s relationship with Harry was first discovered, The Daily Mail compared their backgrounds in a racist way, describing the American woman’s ancestors as “a tailor, a teacher and a cleaner, in racially divided Jim Crow South, while his were ruling the British Empire.” It noted that she had slave ancestors, while his forebears were kings and queens.
Not to be outdone, The Sun featured a vicious smear by her step-sister, Samantha Grant, who warned Harry that Meghan was a social climber and “pushy princess” who habitually fancied ginger-haired men.
Wisely, Meghan chose to remain silent, but Harry went ballistic. In an unprecedented condemnation of the British press, the prince’s press secretary accused the media of introducing “racial overtones” into comment pieces on his relationship with Meghan, claiming she had been subjected to a “wave of abuse and harassment.” The statement also referred to “nightly legal battles” to keep defamatory stories out of the newspapers, plus the prince’s “deep disappointment” that he has not been able to protect Meghan from this kind of exposure.
Media pressure, however, is likely to continue. Meghan may look suave and sophisticated, but her family is massively dysfunctional, featuring a bankrupt father, an alcoholic step-brother and a step-sister who is ready to Tweet her opinion on anything Meghan says or does. Only her African-American mother, Doria Ragland, seems to lead a “respectable” life, working as a social worker and yoga instructor in Southern California.
But Meghan isn’t a quitter and there are signs that she is working, with quiet efficiency, behind the scenes, to pull her family together. Samantha, for example, has radically changed her tune and now gushes support for her princess-to-be sister.
Harry – A Six with a Seven Wing?
Harry’s former reputation as “the playboy prince” has led several Enneagram experts to label him as a fun-loving Seven, a young man who cruised from one party to the next, dropping girlfriends when they became too clingy and, true to type, preferring not to become too involved in emotional relationships.
But there’s a deeper side to Harry’s nature that fits more with being a Six, albeit with a Seven Wing. His enjoyment of life in the British Army, “mucking about in trenches” as he once put it, indicates a relief to be direct, honest and ordinary, qualities that make a Six feel safe (see article in Osho News, Prince Harry: a high-flying Number Seven comes down to earth).
His bonding with discharged soldiers, wounded or traumatized by their experiences in Afghanistan, where the prince also served, indicates a strong tendency to identify with the underdog, which is also a classic Six trait. Sixes, too, have an ambivalent, love-hate relationship with authority and it could be that Meghan’s bright-and-breezy California nature feels like a breath of fresh air to Harry, taking him outside the stifling atmosphere of British social hierarchy.
In a Six-Three relationship, Harry will stand by Meghan as long as she is willing to be open and honest with him about everything, including her weaknesses and mistakes. This is because personal trust is such a crucial issue for Sixes, who were unable to trust their family environment as children. For Meghan, assuming she sails successfully through the storm of media interest and marries Prince Harry, the real challenge is likely to come later.
Right now, she may be dazzled by this “dream-come-true” of becoming a British princess, but once confined within the role, she may start to resent its limitations. Kate Middleton, who married Harry’s older brother, William, has faced no such difficulties. If we believe her biographers, it was always Kate’s dream to marry William and she seems happy enough to bear his children and accompany him wherever he leads (see The saga of Prince William and Kate Middleton).
On the Enneagram, Kate is an example of that rare phenomenon: a Seven whose romantic dream of an idealized future actually became a reality. In her role as the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate has never put a foot wrong, and has been complimented by the Queen for her impeccable social behaviour. After enduring the highly public meltdown of Diana Spencer’s marriage with her oldest son Charles, and Sarah Ferguson’s reckless behaviour as the wife of her second son, Prince Andrew, the Queen has been delighted with Kate Middleton’s flawless performance.
Restless in the golden cage?
Meghan may prove to be a different kind of woman. She has a more forceful personality and has enjoyed hard-won personal success, both as an actress and as a campaigner for worthy causes. Maybe, as a Three, after mastering the Royal role, Meghan will feel the urge to create new goals in her life. Maybe she will want to return to her showbiz career. Maybe, as a free-thinking California woman, she won’t be as tactful as Kate in what she says and does. Maybe Prince Harry’s obvious infatuation with her will eventually prove tiresome.
The love between Harry and Meghan seems genuine enough. But, given Harry’s Seven Wing tendency to roam around, plus Meghan’s drive and ambition, the underlying question is: how long will it be before they grow restless inside the golden cage of their Royal marriage?
As Meghan knows, Threes can’t sit still for long. There are always new challenges ahead to provoke their ambition. But, in the meantime, she can congratulate herself as a successful Achiever. All the hard work has paid off, not only bringing her success, but also a fairy-tale love affair with a real-life prince. What more can a smart, savvy California girl ask for?
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