Leave Meghan and her baby bump alone - her only crime is being female and royal
Britain lurches one step closer to a constitutional crisis. France is in flames.
The US president is threatening to “shut down the government.” And what do some people get upset about this week? A pregnant woman cradling her baby bump.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be angry right now. The Duchess of Sussex stroking her midriff just ain’t one of them.
Bewilderingly, however, there are some who don’t see it like that. Certain users of social media became inexplicably irate Monday night because Meghan was “touching her stomach too much” as she presented a gong at the British Fashion Awards. Charges of being both “irritating” and “smug” were brought against the duchess for doing what pregnant women do naturally, presumably without giving it a thought.
Our female royals just cannot get it right. We’re cross with them for being too remote and austere, as evidenced by our censure of the Queen for her allegedly inadequate response to the death of Princess Diana. We want them to show feelings just like us. But we don’t like them becoming too mortal or too real. Meghan is pregnant, and we’re pleased about that; but if she catches herself doing the most instinctive thing - placing her two hands on the growing mound within her that’s her already-loved unborn child - then God help her. We want her to be human, but not that human.
Notably we allow our male royals greater leeway. They may party and be naughty; they may cry and show their feelings; and quite often we just love them any which way they come. The same cannot be said for the women. Diana, Meghan and Fergie and her daughters have notably been shown far less leniency.
Still, the fact that anyone has bothered to put finger to keypad to complain Meghan is being “attention-seeking” and “narcissistic” for presenting her pregnant body in one way and not another, that feels like a new social low.
Yet it’s one that forms part of the depressingly predictable journey of female royals as they progress through the stages of the narrative we impose. It’s almost impressive how quickly we’ve conspired to transform the wife of our beloved Prince Harry from queen of our hearts one moment into “narcissistic” diva the next. Just like that, as if she’s had a personality transplant since settling into married life.
In our general approach to famous women, we have a thirst for only heroines and villains, and absolutely nothing in between. Meghan must be either a princess or a shrew, and as we carelessly rip apart the woman we adored, we forget we’re expecting the impossible of her, just as we did with the others.
We need only look at Diana’s varying fortunes at the mercy of the public gaze to see this is in essence nothing new. Only, Meghan is in some ways unlucky, because we didn’t have Twitter back then. Now every last person with a half-baked opinion can share it worldwide in a second.
In a universe without this technology, Meghan’s trolls would see footage and pictures of her, and they might feel irrationally annoyed, for whatever personal reason or none. Seconds later they’d forget all about it and move on. Instead, their unkindest thoughts hang around in the ether like a terrible smell that won’t fade.
This woman’s only crime, don’t forget, is having married into the British Royal family. Yet, she says “I do” and we say “open season.” As if somehow, now the wedding’s done and dusted, we’re bored and she deserves all she gets.
I would say “For Christ’s sake, it’s her body and her baby.” But there’s little point in arguing with emotional diarrhoea. It’s an outpouring of ordure we could all live without. Let’s worry ourselves with what matters - and let Meghan just enjoy being pregnant.