Meghan Markle recounts ‘cruel’ online bullying during her pregnancies; is keeping distance on social media

Meghan Markle said she experienced “cruel” online bullying while she was pregnant with both of her children.

Speaking on a panel at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Markle said she is keeping her “distance from [social media] right now just for my own well-being.”

The “bulk” of the social media and online “bullying and abuse” she said she has experienced was when she was pregnant with her children, Archie and Lilibet, and while she had a newborn.

Markle had her first child with Prince Harry, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6, 2019.

The couple then welcomed Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor two years later, on June 4, 2021.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on March 11, 2019 in London.Neil Mockford / GC Images via Getty Images file

“You really wrap your head around why people would be so hateful,” Markle said of the social media bullying she experienced. “It’s not catty, it’s cruel.”

Markle acknowledged that there is “so much work to be done in terms of keeping people safe” in the current social media landscape, especially considering what children are exposed to, while also appreciating the dichotomy that can exist on social media platforms.

Using the panel, which was being streamed on YouTube, as an example, Markle said it’s “fantastic” that it’s on the video platform because people are going to “have access to hear all of this brilliance and all of this insight,” but “at the same time, it’s a platform that has quite a bit of hate and rhetoric and incentivizes people to create pages where they can churn out very, very inciting comments and conspiracy theories that can have a tremendously negative effect on someone’s mental health, their physical safety.”

She also called out “how much of the hate is women completely spewing that to other women.”

Markle said there are a lot of women in high-level executive positions “who are great champions of women, who are great philanthropists,” and yet “they’re allowing this kind of behavior to run rampant.”

“At a certain point, they have got to put the ‘dos’ behind the ‘says’ and really make some changes on a systemic level,” Markle said.

But, she added, average social media users also have work to do to ensure safe spaces online, noting that the “systemic change has to happen at the same time as the cultural change is happening,” calling out women who are “reading something terrible, terrible about a woman” and then sharing it.

“I think that is the piece that is so lost right now, and what’s happening in the digital space and in certain sectors in the media — we have forgotten about our humanity,” Markle said.

“And that has got to change, because I understand there’s a bottom line, and I understand that a lot of money is being made there, but even if it’s making dollars, it doesn’t make sense.”

Markle and Prince Harry relocated to California in 2020, giving up their life in England and stepping back from the British royal family. They have since been outspoken about how the press, particularly paparazzi, has infiltrated their lives in both the U.S. and the U.K.

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