My horse is bigger than your horse
I am always hesitant to share posts like this because I know how easily words get twisted and taken out of context on the internet. I also don't particularly like writing posts about things that upset, frustrate or anger me (so if any of those emotions come across here, I apologize in advance).
However, I feel like there are some things royals fans need to have a conversation about (well, there's actually a lot of things we should talk about but, we are focusing on one right now). I'm sure anybody who has been in the royal watching sphere at any point in the last five years has seen the argument over which duchess had it worse in the media. At face value the conversation is frankly ridiculous but I couldn't even begin to tell you how often I see Catherine and Meghan fans arguing about it.
They always end up hitting on the same points: Catherine endured 10+ years of harassment, stalking, invasion of privacy, sexist & classist headlines that started when she was barely twenty years old and she's worked hard to avoid any and all negative headlines by rarely (if ever) putting a foot wrong with royal protocol or public expectations. While the coverage on Meghan had racist undertones from the start that got progressively worse and more blatant throughout her engagement and marriage making her and her family a target for online trolls and social media harassment all whilst learning a new job and role in a new country and dealing with personal issues stemming from the actions of her father's family.
Most arguments are more flushed out than that, and end up pulling in specific headlines, instances or situations to support whichever side but it's not worth it to get into the specifics for two reasons. First, there is no completely legitimate and equitable way to quantify who had it worse without wasting a lot of time and energy going down a dark pit of the internet. Secondly, why is this the prize fans want to win for their favorite royals?
Seriously, this has always confused me so if you have an answer, let me know. But basically what these fans are arguing over is, "hey, my favorite duchess had a harder time in the media and experienced more harassment, hate and vitriol than yours."
The pain, trauma and harassment one Duchess faced does not negate or cancel out the pain, trauma and harassment another faced. It is blatantly obvious to anyone who has been paying attention that they both experienced undo media harassment. So, why is it so difficult for fans on both sides to just acknowledge they've both gone through it, have found ways to deal with it, are doing better now, and move on? Why is "suffered the worst media harassment" or "number one media victim" the title people are going after? Is that seriously the prize you want for your favorite Duchess? If so, go ahead and take it.
I can guarantee neither Duchess is willing to get into the ring and fight for it because it's not a title any sane person wants to claim. I certainly wouldn't want it. This need to say that one of them was harassed more or had more negative stories written about them is not only childish but futile. What would the criteria be for such a thing?
A point for every sexist, racist or classist headline.
Five points for every paparazzi photo taken when you were just trying to live a normal life (five bonus points for paparazzi chasing, stalking, shouting or surrounding you).
Five points for every year you've survived the media harassment.
Ten points for every time a private or invasive photo was published.
Fifteen points for every statement you or your partner has had to issue or lawsuit you've had to file in order to protect yourself or your family.
Twenty points for every time you were hacked, in imminent danger or threatened for a story.
Add them up and whoever has the most points at the end wins. Does anyone else realize how ridiculous that would be?
If this still (somehow) seems like a legitimate argument to continue having, a little analogy for you. Two people climb Mt. Everest, one of them experiences frostbite, hunger and hypothermia and the other gets pneumonia and altitude sickness. They both make it to the top, just with different obstacles along the way. When they return would you ever try argue the first person is better or stronger because they had more obstacles in their way? Would you say the second person deserves no credit for climbing Mt. Everest because they didn't go through as much as the first person and therefore their accomplishment is less impressive? Or would you just be happy for them that they are back safe and are healthy and happy?
I know people will disagree with me because this is the internet and people love to argue but, it's essentially the same thing. You can try and argue all day long that one person had it better or worse but first off, there is no way to quantify that logistically and secondly, it does not negate or erase the fact the other person has also gone through it and made it out on the other side.
For those wondering what the prize is for 'winning' this argument, I very strongly believe it is driven by a desire to invalidate another person's struggles. No fan actually wants the title of "biggest media victim" for their favorite Duchess.
If the fans can successfully argue or prove that one has had it worse than the other then the other Duchess, the one whose had an easier time, isn't deserving of compassion or empathy. If they convince others that one has been unfairly treated and singled out then they get to claim some form of perverse martyrdom. I strongly believe these types of fans aren't trying to prove anything about how strong, brave or resilient their favorite Duchess is, they are trying to invalidate and erase the struggles of the other. Simply put, they are trying to remove the humanity and the very real lived experiences of these women in order to make it easier to justify their own hatred for the other. Doing so makes it easier to fit these women into the saint and sinner or hero and villain dichotomy that the media has weaponized against powerful, strong and confident women from the beginning of time.
In case its escaped anyone's notice, both Catherine and Meghan are doing just fine now. Yes, they have both been through more in regards to the media than anybody ever should have to but they have figured out systems and boundaries that work for them. William and Catherine have drawn hard and fast lines with the media in regards to the public vs. private lives, especially where their kids are concerned. Harry and Meghan decided they would no longer work with certain media outlets and opted not to use social media to ensure their privacy.
Fans are only hurting each other and this family by constantly pitting them against one another in some made-up competition. I'm not saying that there isn't some drama behind the scenes, there probably is, but it is not our place to get speculate about private matters. The media is thriving off of the stories around the family, lining their pockets by creating a dramatic narrative that sells. Online accounts are only helping them do this by stirring up more drama, posting unfounded theories and throwing accusations back and forth at one another.
The media sees all of it, royal journalists, 'experts' and commentators find the vitriolic theories and conspiracies thrown back and forth and then quote these types of tweets in their stories as if that's a valid source or somehow backs up their claims. Think about how often you see tweets or random theories quoted or re-shared in stories now a days. This is entertainment news and there are a lot of outlets that are less interested in backing up their reporting than making a profit.
The only reason I am aware of some of the ridiculous and unfounded conspiracy theories flying around royal twitter (that William cheated on Catherine or the Cambridges ordered a media smear against Meghan or that Meghan was never really pregnant and Archie is a doll or that Meghan was spying on the Cambridges and their kids while they were in the U.K.) is because my friends read it in actual articles and then message me asking if its real. Luckily I can tell them no and explain the ridiculous origin of that conspiracy theory but there are some misinformed people who end up believing it and spreading it further.
Bottom line, these online arguments, fights and ridiculous accusations only help the media that have been targeting these women from the start. They profit off of the rumors, unsubstantiated claims, and fictitious accusations. It's a cycle that ends up hurting the people fans think they are defending.
This my horse is bigger than your horse argument is tired and foolish. Fans are wasting their time arguing with one another over a fake title that nobody wants rather than putting their energy into something useful like beginning to dismantle the structure that allows media to do this to women without repercussions. For anyone new to royal watching or just media in general here is a little spoiler for you; every single woman in the Royal Family has experienced unjust media harassment, this is nothing new.
The media said Queen Elizabeth wasn't qualified for the job when she first ascended to the throne. Her engagement and subsequent marriage with Prince Philip was under intense scrutiny and throughout her reign she has been accused of being too 'soft' and 'emotional' and in equal measure has been said to be too 'cold' and 'detached'
Princess Diana was built up into a living icon before being torn down publicly time and time again. The narrative the media sold about Diana was so profitable to them they quite literally killed her in pursuit of a photo of her.
The Duchess of Cornwall was cast in their play as an unredeemable monster who destroyed Charles and Diana's marriage while conveniently ignoring the fact they both had affairs and were not a good or healthy match for one another. Camilla has been compared to a horse and been called a whore, all for having the audacity to marry the man she loved.
The Duchess of Cambridge and her entire family were called social climbers, she had been accused of spending her entire adolescence plotting to marry William. Then when Catherine waited to marry William they invented cruel and taunting nicknames for her. They called her chubby and then called her too thin, saying she had an eating disorder. She was stalked and harassed by the media throughout the entirety of her twenties and even had to endure the ultimate invasion of privacy; topless photographs taken whilst on private holiday being published on the front of magazines.
Meghan was cast as an amoral american divorcee, as if her previous relationship and nationality somehow doomed any and all future with Prince Harry. She was subject to thinly veiled racist attacks (and some incredibly blatant racist attacks) and criticised endlessly for what organizations she chose to support and how she chose to support them. She was pitted against Catherine and accused of being a manipulative actress, only using Harry to get ahead in her career. They alleged she would divorce him as soon as he was no longer useful to her, as if she were an actual psychopath.
Princess Margaret, Beatrice, Eugenie, and even the Countess of Wessex have all experienced unjust media harassment. This isn't something exclusive to Diana, Catherine and Meghan. Every single woman with ties to the Royal Family have walked a similar path and I am willing to place bets right now that Charlotte and Baby Sussex will go through the same thing, unless we, as the consumer, force the media to change.
If you want to help make this change, the biggest way you can help is by learning about how the media works in order to avoid falling into these made up and damaging dichotomies. Next, don't click on or interact with articles that pit women against one another or relies on tearing one woman down in order to build another one up (comparisons, who wore it best, etc. all do this in a subtle but problematic way). Don't visit sites or purchase magazines that you know have a history of unjustly criticising women, and don't assume that just because an outlet, magazine or account is run by a woman, that they aren't going to be sexist. Do your homework on who you follow and why and don't get into fights over fruitless things like who has had it worse.
Instead of wasting time trying to figure out who is the bigger "victim" maybe look at how they've both survived and come out stronger on the other side of it. Focus on the ways we can all work together to ensure women in the future don't have to go through this again. And the next time you see that argument, consider joining me in reminding everyone that the media is the one you should be focusing on. Help hold the media and other online accounts accountable in order to ensure they cannot profit off and unjustly target the next generation of royal women with no accountability for their actions. xx