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Meghan Markle has given up social media for good. Can anyone blame her?

by Jennifer McShane
10th Jan 2021

If the British media’s treatment of Meghan Markle has told us anything up to the events that led to her formally leaving the royal family, it’s that little has changed since the tragic death of Princess Diana. The press had an agenda when it came to Diana; this rippled down to much of the young women in the monarchy – right up to Markle in 2020, prior to her stepping down.  Is it any wonder she, alongside Harry, have no desire to return to social media?

The Duchess of Sussex has was labelled, right from the start. She’s cold, she was the ‘other’ in the royal family; shunned for keeping her family out of the public eye as much as possible, for not openly welcoming the media which have subjected her to racist, smear campaigns from the very beginning.

When she was an official member of the royal family, she could never put a foot right, courting the press at her own will, is what the columns said. Spending millions refurbishing a cottage yet keeping her royal christening a private affair – the nerve. That wasn’t the way Will and Kate went about things. They didn’t break protocol. You can almost hear the sneering.

Is it any wonder, that Harry and Meghan – who acquired over 10 million followers on Instagram before stepping down from official duties – are renouncing social media as part of their new “progressive role”, according to The Sunday Times?

Meghan has spoken candidly about the “almost unsurvivable” abuse she was subjected to online, and recalled being told back in 2019 that she was “the most trolled person in the entire world”.

Meghan told the Teenage Therapy podcast: “Eight months of that, I wasn’t even visible, I was on maternity leave with the baby – but what was able to be manufactured and churned out, it’s almost unsurvivable, it’s so big you can’t even think what that feels like.”

Still vilified 

George Clooney was right; Meghan Markle was being vilified – in many ways, she still is. It’s one of the reasons no doubt, she and Harry will never return to a social media platform – she is still blamed in 2021 for Harry being out of the royal fold, despite the fact that it was, he has said, his idea. We’ve seen it before, seen how that hounding ends with the tragic, untimely loss of the Princess of Wales. She longed for acceptance from the public and the press, Diana wanted to be liked. But, like Markle, she didn’t conform. She went her own way. And we know people say the opposite, but all evidence suggests that no one likes a rebellious royal. Certainly not the media.

Related: Priyanka Chopra is right to call out the racist treatment of Meghan Markle

The difference here, and no doubt the reason that Markle has rubbed much of the press up the wrong way, is because she doesn’t care if you like her or not. She’ll do things firmly with her stamp on them, regardless of the protocol required when she was a member of the royal household.

She lives a life of privilege but she is still entitled to say no, to do things her way, without automatically reaping the nasty repercussions of the media.

Even in an era of #MeToo, the sight of a strong-willed woman not giving a damn is enough to make blood boil.

She couldn’t be controlled, so she must be put in her place, is the subtext of every unkind story about her still.

A royal pattern   

It began long before Markle, of course. Sarah Ferguson said the same of her perceived friendship with Diana. According to the media at the time, it was always based on a rivalry. “Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt,” Ferguson wrote in an open letter earlier this year.

Related: Kensington Palace spends ‘hours’ tackling online abuse and threats towards Kate and Meghan

Meghan vs Kate was the modern-day narrative all last year. In fact, on occasions, it was all the press could talk about. Two women, “normal” enough women, who became real-life princesses before our very eyes. Who looked better? Who had better hair? Who smiled more? Who kept to royal protocol? Who simply seems more genuine? Kate usually always emerged the victor.

Look back at the royal reporting of years gone by and you’ll see it was always the women who took the blows. 

Look at Tudor history as a starting example. It couldn’t have been King Henry who was obsessed and selfish, beheading and remarrying Queens at will. It must have been his wives at fault.

What about the men of the monarchy? 

Now, look a few years back. Remember when Prince Harry caused a scene in Las Vegas? The ‘boys will be boys’ commentary was rife. There was some teasing, naturally, but all was forgiven. Rumours of infidelity on Prince William’s side is only whispered about, but Markle gets grief because she was married and divorced before her wedding to Harry.

And remember this?

Though thankfully, she has fought back with Harry by her side. Fast forward 12 months and the couple are thriving, not just surviving. They have lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify and in recent interviews, appear happy and relaxed.

Markle may have initially lost the media battle, but she won the war.

Read more: ‘Not many people have asked if I’m ok’ Meghan’s emotional remarks about her vulnerability are sad but futile

Read morePreachy? Hypocrites? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will never win