Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton have become the victims of widespread and vicious online sexist and racist abuse, with Kensington Palace staff spending a significant amount of time monitoring the scale and nature of the attacks.
According to Hello! magazine, staff at the Palace are spending “a lot of hours” wading through “hundreds of thousands” of sexist and racist comments that appear on social-media platforms such as Instagram.
The levels of abuse have been exacerbated because of the rival groups of fans of the two duchesses, the partisanship becoming more pronounced amid reports of animosity between the two women—itself one of the rumored factors in Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave Kensington Palace to live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
A source told Hello!, “The Palace has always monitored comments but it’s a hugely time consuming thing. They can block certain words, but some of it is quite serious. Over the course of last year, with hundreds of thousands of comments, there were two or three that were violent threats. You can delete and report and block people and the police have options around particular people. It’s something you have to manage because there’s no other way to control it.”
The source told the magazine, “A lot of hours are being spent reviewing old material and moderating comments under posts.”
“It follows a Kate vs. Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans,” the source told Hello! “Arguments about who looks more appropriate, for example, that turn into personal attacks on other users. It’s creating a supercharged atmosphere and everyone can join in, but what are the consequences of this?”
Palace sources said that most of the comments responding to posts on Twitter (where it has 1.68 million followers) and Instagram (7.1 million followers) are positive, but that royal staff are seeking advice from Instagram itself on how to deal with and monitor the influx of abusive comments made towards the women.
When Meghan visited Smart Works, one of the charities she recently became a patron of, online trolls accused her “of faking her pregnancy to get attention, trying too hard, walking strangely, touching her baby bump too much, and being too slim,” according to Hello!
Hello! itself said it had disabled a recent Instagram post about Meghan attending the British Fashion Awards—where she presented an award to Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller, who designed her wedding dress—because of the nature of the abusive responses it generated.
The magazine said it was launching a campaign, #hellotokindness, to counter the negative tone of factional online arguing.
Under a recent Kensington Palace Instagram post about Meghan, one user comments she is a “fraud.” Another writes: “What does Meghan do? Constantly pose for the paps, cup her bump like it’s about to fall off, say ‘Hi I’m Meghan, what’s your name?’ and shake hands. The Duchess of Cambridge isn’t an attention seeker. She’s a class act through and through.”
The warring fans of Meghan and Kate were out in force under the most recent Kensington Palace Instagram post celebrating Australia Day, prompting one user to suggest to the Palace: “Can you just permanently disable comments on your post? Every single post turns into a how much we love Kate & William versus how much we love Meghan & Harry commenting war. And BOTH side(s) of the aisle fans (which is a shame) are guilty of it! Or at least can you create two separate accounts so that trolling can be easily targeted? I hardly comment anymore because the comment section is disheartening.”
Kensington Palace has yet to respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.