Welcomed with open arms?
Although Duchess Meghan is hardly the first royal to be targeted by the British tabloids (afterall the tabloids hounded Princess Diana until the fatal accident that took her life), no other woman who has married into the British royal family has faced the avalanche of vitriolic, racist and sexist tabloid criticism that Duchess Meghan has endured, mostly focusing the frivolous and trivial, such as, her choice of dark nail varnish color (which has no protocol in British Monarchy, by the way), shutting her car door by herself, and placing her hand on her visibly pregnant stomach. In the first few months after Kensington Palace announceed her pregnancy, CNN reported that the royal family had to beef up Duchess Meghan’s security and social media operations in response to the volume of racist comments and abuse that the Duchess of Sussex was receiving online.
Use of the N-word and threats involving use of guns and knives proliferated in posts about Duchess Meghan on Kensington Palace Instagram and Twitter feeds, eventually prompting Kensington Palace to take action to filter out the hateful and racist comments and block abusive trolls.
According to sources at the “Hope Not Hate” advocacy group, investigation disclosed that the racist and threatening tweets against Duchess Meghan were coming from similar groups of accounts created specifically to target the Duchess. This group uses the hashtag “megxit” and mostly consists of middle-aged white women, MAGAs, Brexiters and other racist groups and individuals. Members of these troll accounts are very active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and some of them openly interact on Twitter with anti-Meghan British royal reporters.
While British tabloids will likely argue strenuously that they are reporting the news fairly, even a cursory review of daily tabloids headlines will show what is glaringly obvious – i.e., British tabloids prefer to and predominantly post anti-Meghan clickbait headlines and stories. For the tabloids, this is a win-win situation in which they make money by creating sensational headlines about the Duchess and spreading false narratives of her as a difficult, manipulative, fake, extravagant, unrefined, etc., “other”, unfit to take her rightful place beside her husband within the royal family.
Many of these tabloids are plagued by precipitous circulation decline and publishing anti-Meghan stories gets the clicks that translate into money through advertising revenues.
To be noted, this partly financially-motivated, partly hate-driven reporting has sometimes targeted Prince Harry and, in fact, appears to have triggered white supremacists who have accused the Prince of tainting the royal bloodline by marrying someone of mixed-race descent, with some even calling for Prince Harry to be shot. In this regard, it is hardly surprising that two teenage neo-Nazis who plotted to shoot Prince Harry were convicted this year, and one of them is serving a term of 4 years in prison.
To catch a glimpse at just how “welcoming” the British media have been towards Duchess Meghan, here are a few examples of popular headlines that have been published about the Duchess of Sussex.
#SussexSquad Here is just a miniature sample of the racist abuse the #DuchessofSussex suffers daily in the hands of the British Press and the Royal Family! We have enough screenshots to make an hour long video but we wanted to do this quick sample to show how depressing this is! pic.twitter.com/LrfalRp37T
— sussexsquadpodcast (@sussexpodcast) 15. Juli 2019
Prince Harry issued a statement in 2016 in which he criticized the British press for the racial undertone of their coverage:
But the past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – 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. Some of it has been hidden from the public – the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.
Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. 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.Statement by the Communications Secretary to Prince-Harry, 8 November 2016
Very welcoming, isn’t it?
Publications like the Daily Mail have taken it upon themselves to post as many smearing headlines about Duchess Meghan as they can marshal, including this particularly shocking 2016 headline:
The story then went on to describe just how unfit Meghan Markle was for Prince Harry because, according to the paper, the two were “worlds apart”, with Meghan having, as the paper claimed, grown up in a gang-infested neighbourhood characterized by robberies and murders.
Part of the unwelcome committee
Several British reporters are frontline in the continuous tabloid warfare against the Duchess of Sussex. They include:
Robert Jobson, a royal commentator who has implied that the alleged “feud” between Duchess Meghan and her sister-in-law Kate Middleton is real, in addition to claiming that Meghan was being “difficult” when she reportedly was told that she could not have a tiara that was her first choice.
In response to actor George Clooney’s indictment of the tabloids’ sensational and largely speculative coverage of Duchess Meghan, Jobson has dismissed, as “ridiculous”, comparisons between the way the press hounded Princess Diana to her death and the media’s vilification of Duchess Meghan, and has, instead, asserted emphatically, that the Duchess is not being vilified.
Jobson, a commoner, also felt sufficiently empowered to “warn” Duchess Meghan, a royal, that what he described as her “showbiz style” baby shower was “not the way Royals do it”. In issuing his dire warning to the Duchess, Jobson conveniently forgot to mention the fact that a few other royals have, in fact, also participated in baby showers, including Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.
Camilla Tominey, another self-styled royal expert also disagreed with Clooney’s drawing of a parallel between the treatments of Duchess Megan and Princess Diana. Tominey denies any racial motivation in the British tabloids’ coverage of Duchess Meghan. Not surprisingly, though, Tominey is also the royal expert who linked the Duchess of Sussex’s successful charity cookbook, “Our Community Kitchen” to terrorism by pointing out that the mosque where the community kitchen is housed has been linked to people with terrorist connections. Following publication of her piece, known islamophobe, David Vance, publicly thanked Tominey on Twitter for bringing “his story to the front page” of the Telegraph. Vance claimed that Duchess Meghan was working with a terrorist kindergarten teacher and her husband, an ISIS executioner, thereby putting the women of the Al Manaar Mosque and Duchess Meghan at risk of islamophobic attacks.
Richard Palmer, a correspondent for the Express, often takes to Twitter to share his thoughts on how the Royals keep Duchess Meghan some distance away from the media in an effort to control what gets published in the tabloids. Palmer has also claimed that Duchess Meghan is difficult and demanding, as some unidentified palace staff and unidentified members of the royal family have claimed, without any substantiation. Richard Palmer also engages with megxit trolls online thereby encouraging them to keep up their tirade of hateful posts.
Daily Express royal correspondent Richard Palmer claimed:
“It is clear that Meghan is regarded as difficult and demanding by some in the family and on the staff.”upcomingworldnews.com
Rebecca English of The Daily Mail once called Duchess Meghan an “interloper” and claimed that she was responsible for the widely-reported rift between Prince Harry and Prince William. English also blamed Duchess Meghan for the separation of living arrangements after the Sussexes moved from their small two-bedroom cottage on the Kensington Palace grounds into a slightly larger four-bedroom cottage at the newly-renovated Frogmore Cottage.
Here is English drawing a direct parallel between Duchess Meghan and Wallis Simpson, the first American divorcee who married into the British royal family. English’s contempt for and hatred of the Duchess is raw, unrestrained and, for supporters of the Duchess and fair-minded citizens of Great Britain, painful to digest:
The proposition is deliciously intriguing. Two brothers torn apart by a divorced American interloper… two sisters-in-law, one dutiful, one showy, whose ill-concealed hostility helps to prise apart the siblings once thought tied together for life by their accident of birth.
It’s as if the painful history of George VI and his brother, Edward VIII – who abdicated for the love of his brash US bride, Wallis Simpson, to the disgust of his sister-in-law, later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – is being played out all over again.
Not much of a welcome, is it?
Emily Andrews, reporting for The Sun Royal, claimed the abuse Duchess Meghan faces daily is really “not a lot” and comes from a small number of people who she designated as “Twitter trolls”. According to Andrews, those who complain about Duchess Meghan’s treatment by the British tabloids are super sensitive and, to them, “any kind of negative or perceived negative comment about … [the Duchess] is perceived as racist”. In Andrews’ view, UK tabloids and their reporters are the real victims, “a lot of [them] . . . having been accused of racism.”
Andrews also accused Duchess Meghan of using PR tactics to make herself look good and to leak news about herself through her friends. Emily Andrews invented a whole baby shower story with fake “sources” and published it one day before the actual baby shower took place. She also caused door gate, the uproar caused online when Duchess Meghan shut her car door.
While covering the couple’s trip to Fiji, Andrews blamed pregnant Duchess Meghan for decisions made by the head of her security detail to cut short her visit after it was determined that the teeming crowd that showed up to see her in a steamy indoor market on a hot day was not as controlled as it should be, especially during a royal visit. From her perch as a royal reporter, Andrews disputed the security assessment of trained experts and claimed, instead, that the crowd was under control and that she (Andrews) did not see any reason for Duchess Megan’s early departure from the market.
Richard Eden is another tabloid reporter on Duchess Meghan’s “Unwelcome Committee” who has painted Duchess Meghan in a negative light and made her feel unwelcomed with his reports of how Harry has become distant from his brother, separated himself from their shared charity, started a new charity with his wife and also nabbed one of their previously joint charity’s most important directors, Natalie Campbell.
Eden also called Duchess Meghan “careless” after unsubstantiated allegations that “three of her aides quit”, further lending to the narrative that Duchess Meghan is difficult to work for — a theory fully embraced by Times reporter Valentin Low, again without a shred of hard evidence to substantiate the claims.
Roya Nikkhah is known to share her dislike of Duchess Meghan in scathing articles. Nikkhah reported that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were moving to Africa to gain their freedom from the UK and separate themselves further from Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Nikkhah also claimed that the Sussexes were being banned to Africa.
Ingrid Seward has also attacked Duchess Meghan, with the most recent attack coming on the heels of the hysteria over speculation that the Duchess of Sussex redesigned her engagement ring. Seward weighed in by claiming that it was “odd” that a piece of history was being treated like a fashion accessory. Seward also claimed that royal courtiers recoil from some of the things (as usual unidentified) that she claims the Duchess of Sussex has said.
Royal Editor Seward’s reports have certainly not made Duchess Meghan feel welcomed, which is understandable especially given her reported friendship with the mother of Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend, Cressida Bonas. Given that connection, every single negative report that Seward publishes about Duchess Meghan must be assessed within the prism of her personal bias, arising from her predictable disappointment that her friend’s daughter did not end up marrying Prince Harry.
It is also interesting that, Duchess Meghan gets blamed for decisions that would clearly have been made by either Prince Harry or jointly by the couple. For example, the TV show “This Morning” hosted by Phillip Schofield debated the Sussex’s decision to have a private christening for Master Archie and placed blame for the decision squarely on Duchess Meghan’s shoulders. Guest host Harriet Marsden accused Duchess Meghan of acting too celebrity and Hollywood by breaking royal traditions.
And then there is Piers Morgan whose obsession with Duchess Meghan is both bizarre and alarming. Morgan, of course, has a history of seizing upon every opportunity to spew vitriol at Duchess Meghan. Morgan has accused Duchess Meghan of acting her way to the top and basically claims she is a social climber because she allegedly failed to return his calls after she met Prince Harry. His take on the private christening hysteria was predictable — Morgan promised to ignore the christening altogether to “honour” the Royals’ request for privacy. Notably, that promise was short-lived because, by June 6, 2019, he was on television excoriating Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry to “Stop Playing Dumb Games”. Morgan accused the couple of playing games because, in his reasoning, they were trying to have their cake and eat it by living in a home paid for by taxpayers pay while insisting on their right to withhold information of their child’s christening from those same taxpayers.
Even Britain’s publicly-funded television could not resist the temptation to participate in the national sport of Meghan bashing. In a shockingly racist “comedy spoof”, BBC2 depicted Duchess Meghan as an unrefined, trailer trash American (in spite of the fake local accent) Black woman, who would stab her lily-white sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, over something as ridiculous as the latter’s use of her hairbrush.