British newspaper The Times published an editorial on Tuesday called “Vile Abuse” stating that many of the comments made about Markle and Middleton are “too vicious to publish here” and said “there have even been threats of violence.”
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The abuse has gotten to the point where royal officials have been seeking help from Instagram to monitor and remove offensive comments. Aides have been spending hours each week moderating comments on the official Kensington Palace Instagram account and removing racist and sexist content.
Hello! magazine has launched a “kindness” campaign in response to the widespread behaviour, urging posters to think twice before posting abusive comments.
Hello! royal correspondent Emily Nash told CNN that the rise in abuse directed at the royal sisters-in-law is tied to reporting by British tabloids that claim Markle and Middleton are feuding.
“There’s a wider narrative in the media pitting them against each other, and unfortunately people are piling in and taking sides,” Nash told the outlet.
“It seems to me to be particularly sexist. You have people comparing them in a way that doesn’t really happen with men — ‘she’s walking funny, or her heels are too high, or her legs are too skinny.'”
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This isn’t the first time Markle has dealt with online abuse.
Back in 2016, Prince Harry released a statement addressing the treatment of then-girlfriend Markle, saying the press had crossed a line with articles that had “racial undertones,” and pleaded: “This is not a game.”
Both Prince Harry and Prince William have spoken candidly about their distrust of the media in the past as their mother Princess Diana died in a 1997 car accident while being pursued by paparazzi.
Middleton was also relentlessly scrutinized for years before she and Prince William married in 2011.
— With files from the Associated Press