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Meghan Markle Decries ‘Bullying and Abuse’ She Faced While Pregnant

Gary Miller
Gary Miller

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle denounced her most ferocious online critics during a panel at the SXSW conference in Austin on Friday, where she was joined by journalist Katie Couric and actress Brooke Shields.

Asked how she handles “the seemingly endless toxicity” that pervades social media, Markle said she had endured the “bulk of the bullying and abuse” while pregnant with her children, Archie and Lilibet.

“You have to really wrap your head around why people would be so hateful. It’s not catty, it’s cruel,” she said. “Why you would do that?”

Markle went on to say that pregnancy and early motherhood are supposed to be “such a tender and sacred time.” In her case, she said, she felt the pull to “succumb” to the toxicity, or “nearly succumb to how painful that is.” But she said she fought to power through it.

“Maybe in some regards, because I was pregnant, that mammalian instinct just kicked in, [to] do everything you can to protect your child,” she continued.

Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, stepped down from their royal duties in 2020 amid relentless scrutiny from the British press and tabloids, allegedly fueled by leaks from inside the royal family’s inner circle.

During Friday’s panel, Markle further lamented the deleterious effect social media can have on mothers’ mental health, both by causing sleep loss and creating false standards of parenthood. “It can also be really dizzying for them to see this portrayal of motherhood that looks so perfect, when we all know it’s not perfect,” she said.

The Duchess argued that many corners of the internet and media “have forgotten about our humanity, and that has got to change.”

“I understand there’s a bottom line and I understand that a lot of money is being made there,” she said, before ending with a quip: “But even if it’s making dollars, it doesn’t make sense.”

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