The past six months have been rough ones for Kensington Palace, which has been on damage control over rumors about an alleged feud between Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton. Now Sarah Ferguson, Prince Harry’s aunt, is speaking out against the media for pitting women against each other “in a way that reminds [her] of how people tried to portray Diana and [her] all the time as rivals.”
In an open letter, Ferguson, also known as the original Fergie, called out this practice and toxic social media culture, writing for Hello that, “We need to pay more attention than ever to what we’re all being exposed to online. It’s time to confront head on the fact that much of social media has become a sewer.”
No doubt Kensington Palace shares that view as the royal staff apparently spends “hours” policing sexist and racist comments on social media according to a recent report by the same publication in which Fergie penned a letter. While Fergie noted that she personally doesn’t read comments, she shined a light on the many negative ones that exist.
“Take a look at any website, and you’ll see extraordinarily abusive comments aimed not only at people in the public eye but also other internet users,” she writes. “Bullying, sniping, bitching, even the most appalling sexism, racism and homophobia are commonplace—it seems that online, anything goes.”
Fergie went on to point out that, overwhelmingly, women are the target of these remarks, just as she and the late Princess Diana once were. “Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt,” she wrote without mentioning Markle and Middleton’s alleged feud but leaving enough room for readers to fill in the blank.
The issue with toxic Internet culture doesn’t just affect royals, of course, and Fergie noted that, adding, “People feel licensed to say things online that they would never dream of saying to someone’s face, and that encourages others to pile in. It’s so ubiquitous that we’ve all become numb to what’s going on. There is good evidence that this online culture is having a detrimental impact on people’s mental health, particularly vulnerable young people.” Coincidentally, mental health is something that Middleton’s husband, Prince William, has made a point of addressing in his royal platform.