Two posts, two extremely different responses. That’s what unfolded when we posted two separate images of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle at the Queen’s funeral to Instagram on Monday night. The reactions to each post brought us crashing back to a confronting reality—one that proved the hate debate surrounding the Duchess of Sussex hasn’t gone away.
In our post about Kate Middleton, comments of adoration and respect immediately rolled in: “Elegance, grace and class,” read one.
“A true royal. Always graceful, so intelligent, always honouring the position and responsibilities toward the people,” another added.
Several minutes later, we shared an image of Meghan as she walked into Westminster Abbey.
“Honestly no one cares about Meghan right now…especially not what she was wearing,” commented one.
“Who cares about the cape? Who cares about Meghan?” said another.
The strikingly different reactions didn’t go unnoticed. Australian author Clementine Ford called it out in the same comment section: “Wow,” she wrote on the post about Kate. “Compare these comments to those on the post of Meghan. People cannot resist taking the chance to attack her just for existing.”
She’s not wrong. In fact, it’s just yet another example of the double standards when it comes to Kate Middleton vs. Meghan Markle. From media coverage to comment sections around the world, people love Kate and hate Meghan. Kate can do no wrong, and Meghan can do no right.
As pointed out by Buzzfeed back in 2019 when Markle was pregnant with her first child, tabloid headlines took aim at the way the Duchess was literally existing during her pregnancy.
“Why Can’t Meghan Keep Her Hands Off Her Baby Bump? Is It Pride, Vanity, Acting?” A 2019 Daily Mail headline read.
It was in stark contrast to the way the Daily Mail spoke about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy with Prince Louis a year earlier. Back then, the headline read: “Pregnant Kate Tenderly Cradles Her Baby Bump.”
In fact, tabloid headlines about Kate vs Meghan have become a measuring stick by which to compare their treatment. Kate’s decision to wear a one shoulder dress was lauded, while Meghan’s was deemed disrespectful. Kate eating an avocado was a clever “morning sickness cure”, while Meghan was reported to enjoy a fruit linked to “human rights abuse and drought”.
In her bombshell Oprah interview in 2021, Meghan directly addressed the double standard of this by telling the iconic talk show host: “You have to laugh at a certain point because it’s just ridiculous. That’s a loaded piece of toast.”
The 41-year-old also spoke candidly of the detrimental impact this scrutiny had on her mental health, revealing that it had driven her to suicidal thoughts.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she told Oprah, adding that she went to “the institution” (the nickname for the royal family and their secretaries, advisers, heads of households and more), for help.
“I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said: my heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.”
As a result, Markle and Prince Harry ultimately decided to step back from their roles as senior royals and move to California, away from the relentless hounding from the UK media.
But while their lives look very different these days, the problematic double standard of comparing Meghan to Kate while they literally exist (not to mention as they grieve for a loved one) remains alive and disturbingly well—last night proved it.
It’s clear that Meghan is well aware of this public commentary that surrounds her. In her first public appearance following the Queen’s death on September 10, she stepped out in Windsor gripping Prince Harry’s hand like her life depended on it.
We really can’t blame her for being nervous. During the walkabout, her reception was a mixed bag in contrast to Kate, William and Harry. While the latter three were excitedly greeted by waiting fans, one particular video of a woman turning her head determinedly away from Meghan in disgust as she made her way up the crowd went viral. Then mere hours after the appearance, the press went to town on the alleged “eleventh hour” discussions held between King Charles, William, and Harry about tacking on the Sussexes as a last minute show of solidarity.
This vitriol was also front and centre when Harry and Meghan first announced they would step back from their roles as senior royals. At the time, tabloids and the public jumped on the opportunity to blame Meghan—remember #Megxit? The finger pointing was so direct that Harry himself had to jump in and defend his wife, confirming it was he who instigated the decision.
But people don’t listen. During an appearance on Sky TV’s live coverage of the Queen’s funeral last night, Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes said Meghan had a “terrible influence” over Harry.
“She’s just a horrible human… [Harry and Meghan are] awful revolting people,” Hughes inexplicably claimed
There’s literally no basis for comments like this—in fact, Meghan has always maintained her respect for the head of the institution, Queen Elizabeth II, telling Oprah during her tell-all that she “loved being in her company”.
“The queen has always been wonderful to me. She’s always been warm, welcoming, and inviting,” she explained. Meghan and Harry would go on to name their daughter Lillibet, in reference to the Queen’s childhood nickname.
In recent months, the negative attention on Meghan Markle has also rested in stark contrast to the apparent lack of outrage towards Prince Andrew, whose long association with Jeffrey Epstein and allegations over alleged sexual misconduct saw him stripped of all miltary titles and royal patronages. (Andrew denies any wrongdoing, but paid an undisclosed settlement to Virgina Giuffre, who has long claimed she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was 17 years old.)
It begs the question: Why do we continue to focus on, attack, and scrutinise Meghan’s every move despite the clear double standard? What’s more, directing our attention towards Meghan, particularly during a time of grief, instead of at bigger (and far more important) conversations about other royal family members who warrant it is a problematic reality that speaks volumes about us as a society—far more so than it ever will about Meghan choosing to simply exist. Perhaps it’s time we took a look at ourselves, instead of the latest headline claiming she’s the root cause of more drama.