War of words at Palace as ‘fans’ talk up a storm

She pointedly signed out of the social media accounts she had spent years cultivating when she stepped inside the cloistered corridors of Kensington Palace.

Meghan Markle arriving for a visit to Nottingham last month
Meghan Markle arriving for a visit to Nottingham last month

But the Duchess of Sussex’s admirers did not all take the hint, it emerged yesterday – with the result that her staff are having to spend hours moderating comments about her.

Much of the dialogue is so sexist, racist or otherwise hate-filled that a campaign has been launched to promote kindness on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.

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Some of the worst, hate-filled personal abuse is said to be between “rival fans” of Meghan and her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge – who also does not have her own public accounts.

When Meghan made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards, Hello! magazine said the debate became so abusive that their moderators had to delete more than 500 posts.

Earlier this month, when she and Prince Harry visited Birkhenhead, another 477 comments had to be deleted.

Among the most “controversial” issues was a picture of the pregnant Duchess holding her baby bump on the day she became a patron of four charities, with Meghan accused of “walking strangely”, being too slim and even faking her pregnancy to get attention.

Some of the commenters then turned on each other, with one urging another poster to “drink bleach” over a difference of opinion.

Some of the abuse was “quite serious”, according to a source at Kensington Palace quoted by the magazine.

“Over the course of last year, with hundreds of thousands of comments, there were two or three that were violent threats,” the source said. “It’s something you have to manage because there’s no other way to control it.”

The magazine said it had launched a campaign called HelloToKindness to encourage more civil behaviour by those moved to comment online.

Its royal editor, Emily Nash, said: “We’re taking a stand. For us, it’s not acceptable to pit two women against each other.

“It’s not acceptable to post abusive, threatening, racist or sexist comments online.

“And it’s not acceptable to attack other users just because they disagree with you.”

She urged those tempted to post comments to first ask themselves whether they would be prepared to say the same thing to someone’s face.

Rosie Nixon, editor-in-chief of Hello! said: “Comments left under our posts – particularly any to do with Kate or Meghan – have become increasingly hostile, either towards the Duchesses or other users. We want to make social media a more positive space for everyone.”

Meghan closed all her social media accounts a year ago, before her wedding in May. Kensington Palace said at the time that she was “grateful to everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years” but had closed them “as she has not used these accounts for some time”.