Sarah Ferguson says Meghan and Kate have been “pitted against each other” like she and Diana were.
If the papers are to be believed, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton have been “feuding” and “at war” since the the dawn of time. Or at least that’s what it feels like a mere nine months since the Royal Wedding. Whether it’s over their age, their looks or their politics, the tabloids – and indeed Channel 5, who aired a documentary titled Kate V Meghan: Princesses At War at the beginning of the year – refuse to believe that the two women could possibly get along.
According to these reports, the pair have “very different characters” – a phrase that can be translated into a simple rule, spewed onto the front pages every morning: if Kate makes the perfect princess, then Meghan is anything but. The adulation Kate received for wearing a white, one-shouldered dress to the BAFTAs compared to the scorn Markle garnered for a similar black gown she wore to the British Fashion Awards is a perfect example of the press’ insidious dislike for Meghan. She was “vulgar”; her sister-in-law an “angel” and a “vision”. It’s this incessant undermining of the more recently inducted royal that sets the battlefield for the princesses to apparently go head-to-head.
Thankfully, the tabloids’ treatment of Meghan isn’t going unnoticed. Indeed, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson – more commonly known as Fergie – has now pointed out the similarities of how she and Princess Diana were pitted against each other to the commentary the current princesses are being subjected to.
“Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals,” she wrote in an essay for Hello Magazine, as part of a wider campaign to encourage people to be kinder to one another on the internet. “Which is something neither of us ever really felt.”
She added: “Take a look at any website, and you’ll see extraordinarily abusive comments aimed not only at people in the public eye but also other internet users. Bullying, sniping, b****ing, even the most appalling sexism, racism and homophobia are commonplace,” she said.
During the Eighties, when Diana-fever was at an all-time high, the tabloids were desperate to cover a royal fallout, but it appears the one time sisters-in-law were far from enemies. According to various royal biographers, the pair would meet weekly for lunch to decode their new lives as royals and there are countless stories of their exploits – from getting in trouble for dressing up as police officers, to riding a quad bike across a golf course, still in the ballgowns they wore to an event earlier that evening.
The papers told a very different story, however. Rather than focusing on the duo’s friendship, the headlines honed in on everything from Fergie’s fraught relationship with their father-in-law Prince Philip, to (unsurprisingly) their fashion choices.
Everything was were seen as a competition. Everything the other did was portrayed as an attack upon the other.
“I believe that it’s time to take a stand. This isn’t about freedom of speech. The truth is, it’s not acceptable to post abuse or threats on social media or news sites, and it’s not acceptable to harangue other users simply because they disagree with you,” said Fergie, reflecting on the media’s treatment of women.
“It’s not acceptable to pit women against one another all the time.”
Fergie isn’t the only one to have drawn comparisons between the current princesses to Diana this week: George Clooney has as well. And, while it might be surprising to some that Clooney would jump to Meghan’s defence, it shouldn’t be: the actors are actually good friends.
Speaking at a T.C.A event to promote his upcoming television adaptation of Catch-22, Clooney accused the press of “chasing Meghan Markle everywhere; she’s been pursued and vilified.” The actor went on to liken Meghan’s treatment to that of her late mother-in-law Diana, adding somewhat darkly, “It’s history repeating itself. We know how that ends.”
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