Christa Ackroyd: Why Meghan mustn’t be hounded like her late mother in law Princess Diana

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Consider this a show of support for a young woman who is five months pregnant, in a new role, in a new country and has become the subject of such vitriol it would destroy the strongest of individuals.

Once again we are playing the game of build ‘em up and knock ‘em down and it has to stop before we watch the total disintegration of another human being before our very eyes. What we are talking about is the hounding of a woman who is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. If the Duchess of Sussex behaves like a Princess she is getting above herself and has abdicated her responsibilities as an independent woman to speak out. If she speaks out she is roundly condemned for not knowing her place at the palace. Either way Meghan has become the subject of a tsunami of media speculation and criticism that is all too reminiscent of the intolerable intrusion her late mother in law Princess Diana had to endure until the day she died.Then we made her a saint when it was all too late.

Let’s look at the facts. There aren’t any. What there is amounts to palace gossip that there has been a bit of a fall out before two events that cause more friction in any family than almost anything else, a wedding and Christmas. Meghan won’t be the first bride to have a meltdown before her big day. That’s if she did. Kate won’t be the first pregnant woman to burst into tears for little or no reason. That’s if she did. And the age old issue as to who goes where on Christmas Day is a perennial question wrestled with by more families than there are turkeys for the dinner table. And we have to stop building it up to be more than it is, before it becomes all too damaging. It is a complete nonsense that Kensington Palace are forced to deny an incident where it is claimed Meghan spoke harshly to one of Kate’s staff. Because, it never happened. But imagine being faced with this amount of bullying, for that is what it is, when protocol demands you can’t answer back. What saddens me is exactly the message Michelle Obama, brought with her on her book tour this week. Why do we spend so much time knocking each other down when we should be building each other up? I do like Michelle Obama. Her vulnerability is her strength. Her admission she too suffers from imposter syndrome is an incredible boost to so many women who believe anything they achieve might be taken away from them because they are not worthy. Her ridiculing of the hashtag #relationshipgoals when applied to her own 26 year relationship with Barack “whoa people, slow down- marriage is hard,” is a message for all relationships, as is her candid account of the marriage guidance they sought after their White House tenure ended. “ We are finding each other again. We have dinners alone where it is just us, what we were when we started this thing. No kids, no publicity no nothing . Just us and our dreams.” Meghan take note. Find your ‘me’ time. Or as Michelle says, put yourself on your own to do list. I totally understand the need to leave Kensington Palace for a place of your own without the constant criticisms and comparisons from the old guard. As Michelle Obama alluded to, Meghan will have an important role to play in the future when ironically as an actress she has become more accustomed to the spotlight being so unfavourably shone on her at the moment. I loved Michelle’s kind message to Meghan in a magazine interview this week to take some time and not be in a hurry to change the world. “Like me Meghan probably never dreamt she would have a life like this and the pressure you feel can sometimes feel like a lot,” said the woman once told her drive and ambition was too lofty to deserve a place at Princeton.

There are a lot of similarities in the perceived role of First Lady and a new Duchess. Both are expected to play second fiddle to the main man. But neither of these women was cut out for the role of dancing to that tune. Nor should they be. They are strong independent individuals whose marriages do not define them. I leave you this week with a quote from Michelle Obama’s speech when she spoke of the way her parents had encouraged her to make her way in the world. “Instead of doing what we often do to girls who are feisty which is to put that flame out they found a way to keep that flame lit, because they knew I would need it later on. And to have that flame lit in a girl means that you have to value her voice and let her speak.” And that includes Duchesses too.