On 15th of October 2018, the world learned that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. The announcement came just hours before the newlyweds landed in Sydney for their 16 day tour of Australia and the South Pacific. Previously, there had only been speculation that the Duchess was expectant and this was heightened when she arrived for Princess Eugenie’s wedding in a navy coat that seemingly raised eyebrows. And while many Sussex fans were genuinely excited for the Duke and Duchess, the problem with the haters regarding the Duchess’ pregnancy started with that particular coat.
An article in The Mirror UK titled How Meghan Markle’s coat at Princess Eugenie’s wedding gave away she’s pregnant three days early posted on the day of the wedding clearly states, The Duchess of Sussex arrived with her husband by a
side door and was whisked straight into the ceremony…
The haters now felt they had reason to go after the couple. Tweets suggested that Duchess Meghan had deliberately donned the said coat to steal the spotlight from the bride of the day. But again, the above article clearly states that she arrived with her husband by a side door meaning, she and Prince Harry were conscious of their popularity and did not want to do anything on that day, likely to steal the spotlight from Princess Eugenie. After all it was her day, not theirs.
The haters could care less about facts and so they pushed the “attention seeking” narrative and had an issue as well, with the couple’s sharing with family members. The tabloids as usual decided to go after them with an article confirming that indeed, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had faced criticism from many quarters over the timing of their announcement. On October 15, 2018, Brittany Vonow wrote in The Sun, “Couldn’t they wait?” Meghan Markle and Prince Harry accused of being insensitive after announcing royal baby on International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.”
Although Brittany in her article acknowledged by quoting Ruth Bender Atik, National Director of the Miscarriage Association, that it could have been possible the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, like so many others, were unaware of the said day’s significance to those who had lost babies. It was proof already that news of the pregnancy was not being received well in some quarters. By the time The Duke and Duchess arrived in Sydney for their tour with Meghan clutching purple folders close to her body, haters were in overdrive, convinced that she was one selfish, attention-seeker. They took an issue with every single time she placed her hand on her stomach throughout the tour. Was she and her husband wrong for being excited at the prospect of being first-time parents? Was she wrong for openly appreciating the fact that she now carried life inside her body?
As her bump grew by the day so did her days become busier. On 18th December 2018, Duchess Meghan, in a floral Brock Collection fitting dress paid a visit to the Brinsworth House, a residential and nursing retirement home for theater and entertainment professionals. Trolls on twitter claimed that her visible bump was shifting and therefore fake. It was a bizarre narrative that was now being pushed by haters that the Duchess was faking her pregnancy. What makes it even more contradictory, is the fact that these particular persons acted like they really did care about Prince Harry’s welfare, by choosing to constantly pick on his wife’s pregnancy. Or perhaps they could not take the fact that he was about to father a child with black blood. Whatever it was, it did not stop the nasty peddling of vile rumors surrounding the Duchess’ pregnancy.
When still in December 2018, Duchess Meghan made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards, where she presented the British Designer of the Year for womenswear award to her wedding dress designer, Claire Waight Keller. Here she would receive probably the worst backlash of them all over how she cradled her stomach. “Disgusting,” “sickening,” “haughty,” were just a few of the unsavory adjectives used to describe her hand placement.
A section went a step further by replacing the Duchess’ bump with a basketball, while others considered her black velvet, one shoulder Givenchy gown a trashy choice. I understand some cultures that insist on being private about your blossoming bump and discourage holding the bump in public and usually in such cultures it’s all about protecting your unborn baby’s welfare. However, I simply cannot understand the unnecessary outrage over where a woman chooses to place her hand during pregnancy. It still remains her body.
In January 2019, Meghan paid a visit to another one of her royal patronages, Mayhew, an animal welfare charity. A photo showing her squatting down to pet a pooch caused ill-meaning critics to claim that a pregnant woman cannot squat such as that. Duchess Meghan shared that at a young age she started practicing yoga with her mother, a certified yoga instructor. The abuse directed to the Duchess was now morphing into a prove it or not that she was pregnant and it would carry on throughout the duration of her pregnancy. It was around this time, that I personally stopped reading any tweets with a Meghan Markle or Duchess of Sussex hashtag good or bad, and preferred the articles I would find online. It was hard to take the fact that this woman, who had worked tirelessly throughout her pregnancy, was being forced to equally face the worst kind of trolling during this delicate time as if people wished her and her baby evil. What happened to treating pregnant women kindly?
In February 2019, Duchess Meghan flew to New York City for a baby shower hosted by her close friends, Amal Clooney and Serena Williams. It is interesting to note that a lot of these haters believe that Meghan was just a small time actress and has no business acting like an A-lister. Question remains, if indeed the Duchess was a small time actress, how then did she manage to forge close relationships with the influential persons in her circle? I don’t dispute the fact that she never appeared in high grossing films as a main actress, but in her acting role on the legal drama Suits she must have indeed made a mark and in addition valuable connections as the Global Ambassador for World Vision and Ambassador for the Canadian based fashion brand, Reitmans for its 2016 Fall/Winter collection. I believe her friends are too smart to keep entertaining a “social climber” or a “fake” and value her friendship enough to host a private baby shower for her.
The Duchess was heavily criticized for the “extravagance” and accused of “aping” Kim Kardashian. Her baby shower, which was supposed to be a celebration among friends, ended up being branded a “PR disaster” by some British tabloids.
It was only natural that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would prefer to celebrate the birth of their first child in private, especially after all the bullying she endured throughout her pregnancy. This decision did not sit well with the haters. Please note, I choose to refer to these critics as haters because that is what they truly are. Their contradictory nature clearly makes them come across as people with ill will. These people have constantly reminded the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that they are lower in the hierarchy to the throne, when compared to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge based on Prince Harry’s position.
However, whenever this couple request privacy, these same people go back and state the couple’s obligation to the public and that we need to see Duchess Meghan on the steps of a hospital’s entrance, hours after giving birth. I believe the Duke and Duchess fulfilled their obligations to the public with all their successfully conducted public engagements. Their baby’s birth, first photos, godparents, and christening are in essence, rightfully private, should they feel like keeping them private. Following royal tradition though, these new parents released official photos of themselves and baby Archie two days after his birth and later, his birth certificate. Seemingly, it was still not enough to appease the hard-to-please quarters. Duchess Meghan’s estranged half-sister, had to put in her two cents worth by jumping on the bandwagon critiquing baby Archie’s private christening, while hurling insults at a sister she barely knows.
Recent tabloids articles have suggested that the couple is having trouble deciding on a suitable nanny with claims of serious vetting. It is only normal for any well meaning parent to vet a nanny seriously before entrusting them with their child’s care. But it is yet another of the haters’ ploys to paint the Duchess as a demanding woman who delights in putting others down.
When the Duchess appeared with 2-month old baby Archie for a polo match in which his dad was participating, she was again mum-shamed for the way she carried her infant. It was curious how the haters were now trying to paint her as inexperienced and undeserving of her own baby. Was it because the child has a higher percentage of white blood and therefore his mixed-race mum cannot be trusted to raise him well? You may wonder.
When the September issue of British Vogue was released it was revealed that the Duchess had lovingly and with all good intentions guest edited while pregnant. A Q&A section was featured where during a chat with anthropologist Jane Goodall, the Duke of Sussex expressed his desire to only have two children with the Duchess. His revelation would again see the Duchess accused of being behind her husband’s reasoning.
From all these instances, we can safely conclude that there indeed has been some sort of mean-spirited campaign to wear out Duchess Meghan throughout her journey to motherhood and it may not stop anytime soon. However, we will keep doing our part by adding our voices in defending the Duchess of Sussex who is a clear embodiment of strength.