"THE FIRM"

Meghan Markle Gets Real About How the Royals Controlled Her Instagram

Meghan Markle looking off into the distance and smiling
Courtesy of Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images

Celebrities deactivating and rejoining their social media accounts is pretty much an everyday occurrence; Britney Spears has done so repeatedly over the past year or so, including just last week. But the news that Meghan Markle is rejoining Instagram is arguably, well, actual news. It’s no secret that using the app was something of a harrowing experience for Markle after she began dating Prince Harry, and especially when they got married in 2018. And in the Cut’s September cover story, the 41-year-old former royal got candid about just how much The Firm made things worse behind the scenes.

Markle’s personal Instagram account, which boasted three million followers when she and Harry got engaged, was among the many things the monarchy closely monitored. (Also on the list: access to her passport, lifestyle website The Tig, and mail.) “It was a big adjustment—a huge adjustment to go from that kind of autonomy to a different life,” Markle recalled. The limits on her personal account were nothing compared to the ones imposed on the one that she began sharing with Harry, Kate Middleton, and Prince William, @KensingtonRoyal. Markle had no control over it, and it doesn’t sound like any of the other royals did either.

“There’s literally a structure by which if you want to release photos of your child, as a member of the family, you first have to give them to the Royal Rota,” she said, referring to the U.K. media pool. She simply didn’t understand the policy, especially seeing as she knew some of the responses to those post would take the form of (often racist) harassment. “Why would I give the [the British press] that are calling my children the N-word a photo of my child before I can share it with the people that love my child? You tell me how that makes sense and then I’ll play that game.”

One month before she gave birth to their now three-year-old son Archie, Markle and Harry decided they’d had enough. They said goodbye to the “exchange game” by starting their own account, @sussexroyal, where they occasionally shared photos of Archie of their choosing. But losing the ability to reference the monarchy in their branding was one of the consequences of “Megxit,” so in March of 2020, the couple cryptically announced that they were embarking on a “new chapter” and would no longer be posting. Rather than starting a new account, they left social media behind altogether—even though it would have helped boost Archewell, the company that encompasses all of their post-royal life pursuits and only means of earning cash. Several months later, Markle explained that logging off was a means of “self-preservation.”

After reflecting on those experiences, Markle admitted that actually, she isn’t sure if she’ll rejoin Instagram after all. But she’s definitely still “excited to talk.” For now, you’ll just have to subscribe to her new podcast, Archetypes, to hear what she has to say.