By Nadine White
Hundreds of tweets containing sexist and racist abuse aimed at Meghan Markle were posted following the announcement that she and Prince Harry were quitting royal duties.
A study for HuffPost UK carried out by digital journalism analysts at the University of Sunderland captured the offensive posts mentioning the Duchess of Sussex.
Some 400 tweets were captured in the the most severe category of abuse, containing sexist and racist insults.
Phrases included “self-loathing race traitor”, “trailer trash”, “meghan the queen, of monkey island”, “the woke Meghan bint” and “poisonous cow”. Markle was also described as a “bitch”, “c*nt”, “whore”, “slut” and “witch”, among other terms.
Responding to the analysis, Dr John Price, senior lecturer in journalism at Sunderland, said: “These results give a sense of the levels of abuse that have been published about Meghan Markle in the days after the announcement.
“There will be many more tweets not captured in the study, as racism and misogyny are often expressed in more subtle terms that do not use overtly abusive language.
“The vast amount of abuse captured in these findings is startling. It shows that aspects of social media, such as Twitter, have become a haven for people wishing to express hatred against women.”
Researchers set up a program using negative sentiment analysis to capture all tweets mentioning variations of the duchess’ name and an array of commonly used misogynistic and racist terms of abuse.
The sample of social media posts was collected between the time of the royal couple’s announcement on January 8 and midnight the following day.
View this post on Instagram
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:33am PST
The same researchers previously investigated trolling of female MPs during the 2017 general election.
It comes amid national discussion about the duchess’s treatment by parts of the UK media – and whether it factored into her and Harry’s big announcement.
The couple have faced significant media scrutiny and Markle has endured frequent racist abuse from the public, especially online.
In July, presenter Eamonn Holmes came under fire for calling Markle “uppity” on This Morning during a discussion about the Duchess’s requests for privacy with reporter Lainey Lui who was in Canada.
Historically the word was used in the US in the 19th Century as an insult to Black people who “didn’t know their place”.
During an interview on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu suggested the treatment of Meghan Markle in the media was symptomatic of racism in the UK.
She also claimed anchor Piers Morgan was “spouting […] nasty and vile comments” loaded with “bigotry, misogyny, sexism and racism” aimed at the duchess.
The Labour leader’s spokesperson said: “Jeremy has commented in the past in relation to Prince Harry and Meghan, about press intrusion and its impact on people and their families and, to use Prince Harry’s words as well, the ‘racial undertones’ in relation to how the media has approached Meghan.”
Corbyn’s message came as another Labour MP, Holly Lynch, told HuffPost UK that Meghan had been “hounded” by the press.
Lynch, who was personally phoned by the duchess last year to thank her for an open letter signed by 72 female MPs attacking “colonial undertones” of her treatment, said it was time to “call out” the media “frenzy” around the Sussexes’ decision to step away from the royal family.
In November 2016, Harry used a statement to attack the “wave of abuse and harassment” Meghan had faced from the media, citing the “racial undertones of comment pieces”.