We don’t know for sure if there’s a feud between the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex. There have certainly been tabloid stories about it, but for a number of reasons, they’re worth taking with several pounds of salt. They fall into a very old narrative of pitting prominent women against each other, for one thing. And many of those stories centre around Meghan Markle being “difficult,” a charge that several black writers have said often includes racist undertones.
But what we do know is that a feud is brewing between fans of the two duchesses. And it’s getting ugly.
Hello! reported that Kensington Palace staff is spending hours moderating abusive comments directed at the two duchesses. Neither of them have their own public social media accounts, but the comments on the palace’s Twitter and Instagram are growing increasingly hostile. Some fans of Kate Middleton’s accuse Meghan of faking or exaggerating her pregnancy, apparently, as well as being too thin or “walking strangely.” Kate, meanwhile, is being called “boring.”
“It follows a Kate vs Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans,” the magazine reports. “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?”
This kind of exaggerated fandom, where people feel justified engaging in cruel or even violent rhetoric in their aim of supporting a celebrity, is an increasingly common phenomenon. The rise of siloed online communities and internet anonymity make it easier than ever to get pulled into “stan culture” groupthink.
Insider also quotes a source who says that the palace has asked both Twitter and Instagram to step in to help with regulating the comments, which they describe as both sexist and racist in nature.
Two or three have been violent threats on both the duchesses and their supporters, Hello! reported, such as when one commenter urged another to “drink bleach.” Last February, someone sent Meghan a package of white powder accompanied by a racist letter. U.K. police treated it as a hate crime.
Fans of the royals will likely never know how Kate and Meghan really feel about each other. Maybe they have an easy-breezy, super-close relationship, and maybe, like many in-laws, they occasionally disagree or clash. But we feel fairly certain that neither one thinks fans of the others should drink bleach.