Meghan Markle has revealed the heartbreaking reality of what it was like to be the most trolled person in the world, admitting the experience was "almost unsurvivable". The incredibly raw admission came as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex took part in their first ever joint podcast to mark World Mental Health Day on Saturday.
LISTEN: Meghan reveals heartbreaking reality of being trolled
Prince Harry, 36, and his wife Meghan, 39, sat down with three of Teenager Therapy's hosts Gael, Kayla and Thomas earlier this week to talk about removing the stigma around the issue of mental health. And as they discussed their own mental health, Meghan revealed the experience she endured while on maternity leave with her first son Archie.
Talking about living life on devices these days - as can be heard in the video above - Meghan bravely admitted, "There's a lot of vulnerability there. Yes, it's a great way to connect, but it also ends up being a place where there's a lot of disconnection.
Meghan with Harry and Archie during happier moments
"I'm told that in 2019, I was the most trolled person in the entire world. Eight months of that I wasn't even visible, I was on maternity leave or with a baby. It's almost unsurvivable. But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out, it’s almost unsurvivable, that’s so big, you can’t think of what that feels like.
"Because I don’t care if you're 15 or you're 25, if people are saying things about you that aren't true, what that does to your mental health is so damaging. Part of the work that we do, being able to talk to people, it's still a human experience and that's universal. We all know what it feels like to have our feelings hurt and to need someone to talk to."
Meghan's experience at the hands of online trolls was the reason HELLO! launched our #Hello To Kindness campaign at the start of 2019. As we reported at the time, Kensington Palace was struggling to handle the deluge of negative comments they experienced on their social media channels directed at the Duchess of Sussex and and her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.
As HELLO! previously revealed, Kensington Palace staff were spending hours each week moderating sexist and racist comments directed at the pair. A handful of violent threats were made towards the two women, while others targeted 'rival' fans with vicious personal abuse. And it's a pattern we saw on HELLO!'s social media accounts too. When a heavily-pregnant Meghan made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards, our moderators had to disable comments on an Instagram post and delete more than 500, because the debate became so abusive.
Meghan was continually criticised throughout her pregnancy
On the day she was announced as patron of four charities and visited one of them, Smart Works, trolls targeted Meghan with a string of criticisms including accusing her of faking her pregnancy to get attention, trying too hard, walking strangely, touching her baby bump too much, and being too slim.
Meghan's brave admission about quite how damaging the abuse was is a reminder to us all - a year and a half later - that nobody deserves to be on the receiving end of online abuse. We urge our readers now, as we did then, to spread the #hellotokindness message across social media and take a stand against online abuse.
Meghan and her mum Doria, whom she now lives close to
Editor-in-chief Rosie Nixon said: "At HELLO!, we launched our #HelloToKindness campaign at the start of 2019 for precisely the reason Meghan describes in this podcast; to say that bullying, racist, sexist and generally abusive commentary online has no place in our world and it has to stop. We feel so strongly about this movement to promote greater kindness on social media and in the digital world and as a media company with a global footprint, it is important that we make a stand.
"I want to urge users to think twice before they post; to remember that there is a human being behind the social media handle and you have no idea what they might be contending within their private life, or the state of their mental health. No one deserves the kind of vitriol Meghan has faced, and it’s time to take a stand and join our movement to make Kindness the loudest voice in our lives."