Meghan Markle heartbreak as misogynistic root of vile pregnancy conspiracy laid bare

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The wild and completely unfounded claims, which gained traction within anti-Meghan hate groups on social media, involved accusations that the Duchess faked her pregnancy and that Archie was born via a surrogate. The conspiracy contributed to the abuse Meghan has faced online, which she said affected her mental health considerably. The Duchess even admitted to feeling suicidal while she was pregnant with Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Maria Pramaggiore, a professor of media studies at Maynooth University in Ireland, co-wrote a paper in which she explored how and why the vile theories about Meghan’s pregnancy came about.

Prof Pramaggiore argued that the traditional “justified” public scrutiny of royal pregnancies has coincided with the modern scrutiny of the celebrity body.

She explained that there are ideas around what makes a “good” pregnancy and a “bad” pregnancy and that when a woman does not fit the supposed ideal, they are treated with disdain and suspicion.

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was seen as doing pregnancy in an “acceptable” way, in that she remained demure and unassuming, with a relatively flat stomach, versus Kim Kardashian, who proudly showed off her large baby bump in figure-hugging dresses.

YOU Magazine even had a front cover titled ‘The Battle of the Bumps’ in which the two women were pitted against each other.

The professor told Refinery29: “Kate Middleton had been paired previously with a foil in terms of the good pregnancy and the bad pregnancy in 2013 with Kim Kardashian, where Kate was ‘the waif’ and Kim ‘the whale’.”

She added: “The template had been set prior to Meghan: we already have an acceptable, demure domesticated, white, pregnant body anticipating motherhood.”

Prof Pramaggiore’s comment that a “white” body is seen as the ideal suggests there may be some overlap in terms of the misogynistic ideas around ‘the right way to be pregnant’, with racism and how women of colour are disproportionately targets of online abuse.

According to this template, Meghan’s pregnancy ‒ which more closely mirrored Kim’s than Kate’s ‒ apparently signalled the ‘wrong’ way to do pregnancy.

It then started to spiral out of control when people started questioning whether she was even pregnant.

Several Twitter accounts started sharing photographs of Meghan and Kate, comparing the two pregnancies.

One wrote: “Classy dress, pregnancy glow, extra weight all over versus fake pregnancy.”

People started accusing the Duchess of wearing a “moonbump”, a fake pregnancy belly.

However, other Meghan conspiracy theorists don’t even believe the surrogacy story, with some outrageously asserting that Archie is just a doll.

Meghan is not the first woman in the public eye to be subjected to online commenters casting doubt on her pregnancy.

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The same happened to Beyonce and Serena Williams, who are notably also both black women.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s wife Sophie Hunter also faced baseless accusations that she did not give birth to the couple’s children.

Prof Pramaggiore said: “On a fundamental level, if you don’t see the child emerge from the woman’s body, you don’t know where it came from.

“The question is, is it really a royal heir? Is it really related to the Windsor line? How can you be sure? It sort of adds to the fundamental kind of anxiety.”

This anxiety is reportedly that Meghan is “getting away” with something, a narrative which often crops up around beloved famous men ‒ like Sophie and Benedict, and also Keanu Reeves’ partner Alexandra Grant.

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Delegitimising Meghan’s pregnancy also casts doubt on her child’s lineage and thus potentially eliminating the perceived threat of Meghan to the ancient institution of the British monarchy, which may be the ultimate goal of many of these hate accounts.

Conspiracies around royal lineage are nothing new.

Back in 1688, rumours spread that King James II’s wife Mary of Modena was not really pregnant.

To stamp this out, the King invited 42 eminent public figures to the birth, yet the gossip persisted.

A tradition then emerged that a Government official had to be present at all royal births for verification purposes, but this was stopped by the Queen shortly before Prince Charles’ birth in 1948.

While the Queen likely took these steps to give herself and future generations of royal women the dignity and privacy any woman deserves, royal fans have latched onto bizarre conspiracy theories in the absence of this ultimate proof.

Meghan and Harry have repeatedly called for a more compassionate online space and called on social media giants to crack down on abuse, harassment and misinformation.

It is believed that a lot of their work going forward will be centred around this idea of a safer, healthier and kinder online world.

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