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There’s a lot of drama right now in the never-ending online war between Sussex fans and. Cambridge fans — all because of one Instagram story post by Meghan Markle’s friend that Kate Middleton fans interpreted as a dig at their favorite duchess.
Let me break it down for you.
Jessica Mulroney is one of the Duchess of Sussex’s best friends and has been for years, long before Meghan met Harry. Her kids were in the royal wedding, she’s rumored to be one of Archie’s godparents. You get it. They’re close.
Mulroney is Canadian. Tragically, 63 Canadian nationals were killed on Jan. 9, when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by Iranian missiles. In the wake of the deadly crash, a Canadian millionaire named Mohamad Fakih started a fund to raise money for the families of the victims. The Canadian government promised to match all of the donations.
On Monday, Mulroney shared Fakih’s fundraising video on her Instagram page, with the caption “This is what matters. Helping families pick up the pieces after devastation. @ceo_mohamad.paramount is just about the best Canadian around. He is trying to raise money for the families who lost their loved ones on flight 752. Link in my bio to help him reach his goal. Please support. ❤️”
She also apparently referenced the campaign in her Instagram story that day. This is important.
The other key piece in this drama is that on Sunday night Kensington Palace released two photos taken by the Duchess of Cambridge of Holocaust survivors and their grandchildren to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. Her photos will be part of a Royal Photographic Society exhibit opening later this year featuring portraits of Holocaust survivors living in the UK.
Then, ON MONDAY, the official Kensington Palace account shared an Instagram post about the project that included a moving statement from Kate about the project and meeting the survivors, whom she described as “two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet.”
Two completely unrelated social media posts. What could possibly be the problem?
Well, in Mulroney’s Instagram story about the Flight 752 fundraiser, she apparently wrote something about the importance of using social media to “spread stories of incredible people striving to make this world a better place.” It appears to be a direct reference to Fakih, who single-handedly started the campaign.
This one part of Mulroney’s story was interpreted by Kate fans to be a dig at the duchess’s photo project. A screenshot was shared to Twitter and all hell broke loose.
“And what on earth has @jessicamulroney ever done for anyone else?” one person replied to the tweet. “Except spreading awareness of the dangers of plastic surgery and aging gracelessly. The woman is 40, dresses like a prostitute and has enough fillers in her face to get a second career as a life raft.”
“The pictures that Catherine has taken are now part of the historical record of the courage shown by the survivors of the Holocaust. Future generations will learn from these. Catherine is a force for change. M will never be able to compete with her,” wrote another.
“Jessica is Jewish. Disappointed she didn’t do a thing to honor and Auschwitz survivors but spent the time posting against a woman who did. If anything, the addition of Meghan markle has made Kate Middleton even more respected and loved. Cream truly rises to the top,” someone else said.
If you do a search for “Jessica Mulroney” on Twitter, you’ll see hundreds more examples, many of them worse than the three I’ve linked above. Given her friendship with Meghan and, you know, her own career as a fashion stylist and TV host, Mulroney doesn’t normally weigh in when she gets dragged into royal drama. However, she did on this one.
Her husband, Ben Mulroney, a television host and son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, even tweeted about the situation.
Mulroney responded to another person on Wednesday, which, again, isn’t usual.
Now, people are accusing Mulroney of deleting her “pretty pictures” post because they can’t find it on her profile (in reality Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours). Mulroney is still being bombarded with hate on Twitter.
I’m going to jump up on a soapbox here for a second. I’ve worked at BuzzFeed for seven years, I studied fandom theory in college, I’ve been very online and active in a lot of fan communities on many different platforms for almost two decades — I’m no stranger to the good, the bad, and the really bad of what can happen when people who share a common passion interact online.
The royals fandom is the most toxic community that I’ve ever encountered. It’s never been great, even before Meghan arrived on the scene. If you poke around on the Royal Forums, a nearly 20-year-old discussion board with sections for all the world’s monarchies, you’ll find a lot of nasty threads about various members of the UK royal family, particularly the women who’ve been involved with William and Harry.
Meghan’s entry into the royal family made it approximately 1 billion times worse. There’s now open warfare between factions of Kate fans and Meghan fans on social media. It’s racist, it’s classist, it’s mean-spirited, it’s speculative, everything is taken in bad faith, it’s just vile. And although there’s a pretty good argument to be made that Kate fans “started it,” believe me when I say that Meghan fans have joined the fray and use many of the same tactics.
I will now descend from my soapbox with the disclaimer that obviously not all people on social media who like the royal family, especially Meghan and/or Kate, are like this — but there are certainly a lot of people who are. And, as you can see from this whole thing, they’re willing to go after just about anyone for any reason, no matter the facts. To end this newsletter on a lighter note, please enjoy this GIF of Mulroney’s son Brian absolutely delighted with life right before Meghan walked down the aisle at her royal wedding.
Do you have any questions about the royal family that you’d like answered? Would you like to see a Q&A section on future ~servings~ of The Royal Tea? Might you, perhaps, like the tea puns to stop? (I make no promises but am open to reader feedback.) Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until the next tea time, I remain your faithful royal correspondent,