On social media there is a war going on between supporters of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the couple's detractors.
On Twitter supporters of the couple use the hashtag #SussexSquad and defend Prince Harry, his US-born actress wife and their son Archie with fierce devotion. Their arch-enemies tend to use the hashtag #megxit.
To the people saying that #Meghanmarkle knew what she was getting into:— Anne Boleyn (Sussex Supporter) (@TudorChick1501) February 22, 2020
No one could possibly expect the massive amounts of sexist & racist abuse hurled at her by the toxic British press. Nobody ever thought that such was possible in Great Britain.
Sadly, we know better now.
But why do they identify with the couple and why are they so passionate in their advocacy for complete strangers?
Zanye Linda, 41, from Uganda, said she had little interest in the British Royal Family until Prince Harry met Meghan Markle, star of legal drama Suits, in 2016.
WTF has happened with her face now? Look at how much higher her eyebrow line is, she's clearly had a major eye life. Her nose is also different, lips, jaw, teeth, cheeks. She spends all her time getting plastic surgery. Sorry HOney it ain't working. #megxit pic.twitter.com/xMKX4Ka7rF— Kathy Geiger (@kegeiger) April 29, 2020
She said: "When the story broke that he was dating Meghan, I looked her up, including binge-watching Suits, and I found her to be very fascinating, especially when I looked at her humanitarian work. So Harry together with Meghan drew me in."
Ms Linda said: "What I like about them as a couple is their commitment to using their platform to bring about positive change."
#SussexSquad if we can mobilize to support the Sussexes through their charities endeavors with great success . I think we can do the same with their fight against the tabloids . We should ignore them and not click or share any content coming from them. I believe we can. pic.twitter.com/51wzTWPueQ— Rachelleworld 🛡🐘🕊 (@bachelleworld) April 19, 2020
She said the Duchess’s work with the Hubb Community Kitchen and Vogue’s Forces For Change campaign and her Smart Set clothing collection - which raises money for charity - demonstrated “she was prepared to do what it takes to reach out and help.”
Another Sussex Squad member, Marleigh Prince, 38, said she had always had a bit of a “crush” on Prince Harry and was aware of his “escapades” as a young man and she said knew of Meghan Markle from her acting career before she met the prince.
Meghan narrates a Disney documentary#SussexSquad: Aww she is such a cute bean. I would die for her. I love Jomo— мαℓιкα αѕтнαηα (@malika_asthana_) April 28, 2020
Harry gives an intro to a Thomas and Friends episode#SussexSquad: DADDY! NAUGHTY HAZZA! OOF THAT SEXY GAZE! pic.twitter.com/bTO98rSMDj
She said: "They are good-hearted people trying to make a positive difference in the world. Harry overcame a lot and became a better man. It seems like he got his heart and kindness from his mum…Meghan has used her fame for humanitarian and advocacy work rather than focusing on becoming a huge ‘star’.”
Marleigh Prince, who lives in the United States, said: “It warms my heart to see how devoted they are to each other. She basically gave up her dream career and independence for him. And he loved her enough to give up his to escape their abusers.”
We’ve delivered over 200 hours of support to our clients since moving to virtual service delivery, and we couldn’t have done it without our incredible community, including our Patron, The Duchess of Sussex https://t.co/2VYz7s6TQq— Kate Stephens (@byKateStephens) April 29, 2020
For many members of the #SussexSquad the "mother ship" is Meghanpedia, a website which was set up "to not only celebrate Meghan’s achievement and journey as royal, but also to point out how the first bi-racial duchess was treated by British media."
A spokeswoman for the Meghanpedia team told Sputnik: "Some of us couldn’t sit by and watch how a woman, who did nothing wrong, was maligned, slandered and attacked every single day since news broke she was dating Harry. We wanted to gather information and document this time in history."
She explained the couple's appeal: "They are genuine people and relatable, authenticity will always trump pretense. All you have to do is look at their successful charity work to understand that both are not consumed by the trappings of royalty. These two are here to make a positive difference in the lives of people. That resonates deeply with us and is rewarded by loyal support."
Since we found out Meghan was Harry's girlfriend, the Mail Online have published 4,132 articles about her, ranging in tone from snide to outright venomous.— Le Ciel (@justher963) March 31, 2020
In just 3 1/2 years. More than 3 a day.
That's more than any other royal apart from Harry (he's only 140 ahead).
The Duchess of Sussex is currently suing Associated Newspapers - the owners of the Daily Mail and Mail Online - after the Mail on Sunday published five articles in February 2019 which were based on a private letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle.
Here Are 20 Headlines Comparing Meghan Markle To Kate Middleton That May Show Why She And Prince Harry Are Cutting Off Royal Reportershttps://t.co/FNmajL7OuW@FBPE @J_amesp @TheNewEuropean @acgrayling @carolecadwalla @mrjamesob @fotoole @HuwMerriman— Keith Lockstone (@KeithLockstone) January 19, 2020
At a hearing on Friday, 24 April, lawyers for the Duchess said the publication of heavily edited excerpts from the letter was not only an invasion of privacy but an attempt to denigrate her and widen the split between her and her estranged father, who lives in Mexico.
Her barrister, David Sherborne, said the Mail group had an "obvious agenda of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about the claimant intended to portray her in a false and damaging light."
#sussexsquad just saw this pic— Marhobby2007 (@marhobby2007) April 30, 2020
Harry at W&K wedding vs. W&K at #HarryandMeghan s wedding.
A visual representation of " do not cast your pearls before swine".
No matter how kind you are 2 trash people, theyll always be trash & treat you as such.
Thank God they left. #trash pic.twitter.com/r0EJ8Sn5Nq
The Sussex Squad is not an official organisation and Ms Prince said people have a range of allegiances and very different reasons for using the hashtag or supporting the couple.
Ms Prince, who is 38 and lives in Texas, said: "Some are independent Prince Harry or Meghan fans, some relate to Meghan’s background (race or nationality), some just wanted to see Harry finally get his happy ending but I think the intensity of support comes from seeing this happy couple that only wants to do good in the world being blatantly bullied in the British press."
Many Sussex Squad members are African, black British or of mixed heritage, and empathise with what they perceive as veiled, or even unveiled, racism which they feel has been directed at the Duchess, whose mother, Doria Ragland is African-American.
Ms Linda said: "They have gained such a strong following because for a lot of us we recognise the prejudice and bigotry that Meghan was subjected to. Regardless of who we are, many of us have experienced either racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia or misogyny. Some have experienced all."
She said: “We recognised what was being done to her by the media and while this was happening the Royal Family not only sat back and did nothing but in many cases they encouraged it.”
Ms Linda said the Sussex Squad was simply "liked-minded individuals working towards this common goal of not only defending them but also ensuring that the good they do does not go unnoticed."
The Sussex Squad claim pictures have been altered in Photoshop, quotes have been twisted and even facts have been made up by certain mainstream media outlets who have been hellbent on painting the Duchess as a bossy and self-obsessed foreigner who has got Prince Harry under her thumb.
Ms Prince said: "Everyone likes to blame Meghan but I believe Harry drove their media engagement. He’s always had a problem with them and did not want his son to go through what he went through growing up - it was hard enough watching what Meghan was going through. I like that they didn’t give in to the media’s blackmail. You can’t treat them like s*** and then expect them to give you exclusive access."
Many Sussex Squad members believe she is being subjected to treatment similar to was dished out to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in the early to mid-1990s.
Ms Linda said: "The similarities I see between Diana and Meghan is their authenticity and commitment to charity work. Reading accounts from people who had a chance to meet Diana and those who have met Meghan, they say there is this presence they carry with them that leaves people feeling like they have been seen."
A continued thank you to the amazing #SussexSquad who have been very kind in their support and donations for my #StayAtHomeChallenge despite some detractors and just keep on giving as we now pass £1,600.00. 🙏❤️— Simon Johnson #Rowing4MH (@WH4X_15) April 15, 2020
The coffee is on me!https://t.co/M1nzYHjzrD pic.twitter.com/6BZpZ1o6Yu
Ms Prince agrees: “They were both not afraid to help out untraditional charities helping people society despises. For Diana it was people with AIDS. For Meghan it was the One25 charity, which specialises in helping women break free from street sex work."
The spokeswoman for the Meghanpedia team said: "The only similarities I see is the disrespectful media treatment and lack of support within the BRF (British Royal Family) for these two women. Diana went through a lot but in Meghan’s case, the added racism and organised smear attacks is worse. Prince Harry couldn’t protect his mother back then but he is now making her proud by protecting Meghan and Archie."
Several articles have also been written in which the Duchess of Sussex is compared with Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee who fell in love with King Edward VIII in the 1930s. Because of a ban on monarchs marrying divorcees, he was forced to abdicate in 1936.
Meghan went through a lot. Glad she is back home now. https://t.co/3QesfSEqhL— Meghanpedia (@meghanpedia) April 27, 2020
Ms Linda said: "I don’t think the UK establishment sees (her) as a threat in the way Wallis Simpson was because Harry’s position is very different from King Edward, so it is far from being a constitutional crisis."
But she added: “I think for the establishment there is a current struggle for relevance in today’s society. You have a Queen and two adult kings in waiting, all seeming to compete for the same level of attention from the population.”
Ms Prince said: “Abdication only happens if the Royal Family pushes them out. Remember, it wasn’t Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back fully. They presented an option similar to Princess Eugenie and Beatrice that would still allow them to work for the Queen with the one caveat being that they were no longer forced to use the royal rota. Due to media pressure the Queen and Prince Charles decided against it.”
TIME named Wallis Simpson its first Woman of the Year in 1936, for becoming “the most-talked-about, written-about, headlined and interest-compelling person in the world" #womenoftheyear https://t.co/SOknk5IOTU— TIME (@TIME) March 7, 2020
The spokeswoman for the Meghanpedia team said drawing similarities between Meghan Markle and Wallis Simpson were "historically inaccurate" because the latter was a "Nazi sympathiser" with nothing in common with the Duchess of Sussex.
She said: "It’s a shallow and disingenuous exercise. The two women couldn’t be more different. Wallis was a socialite, Meghan was an activist, humanitarian, and actress prior to meeting Harry...Wallis may have posed a threat because Edward abdicated the throne to marry her, and that fundamentally shook the hierarchy. Harry is not the next King, so what is this really all about? If Meghan is seen as a threat simply because she’s American, that’s a separate issue worthy of an honest conversation. Otherwise, what is Meghan’s crime? Is it her skin colour or work ethic? Some in the establishment feel threatened by an accomplished woman of colour who doesn’t bow down to white supremacy."
Ms Prince said there were a lot of mainstream media journalists in Britain who appeared to have a grudge against the Duchess.
“The campaign of hate against Meghan feels very personal. They have what seems like a personal vendetta against Meghan and there is no way to justify the vindictiveness and the sheer volume. You would think Harry was their actual boyfriend who left them for her,” she said.
Many Sussex Squad members also accuse the Royal Family and, especially Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, of leaking derogatory or false information about the Harry and Meghan.
So what today has taught me is that people (#DuchessofCambridge fans) really need to look inside their souls and core. They say #SussexSquad is vile. That's a joke...look at just today. A simple vid has these bitchy Karens going off the deep end. Its pathetic, just like them.— 💜🍁 Beth 🍁💜 (@Pinka84) April 29, 2020
The popularity of Harry and Meghan was highlighted when they toured Australia and New Zealand in October 2018 and Ms Prince said: "There’s some jealousy from Kensington Palace, whether it’s from William and Kate directly or their courtiers. The venom and insider leaks increased after the Australasian tour. The crowds they got outnumbered all the expectations."
Ms Prince said she felt the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had now started copying Harry and Meghan’s "touchy feely" style.
"There are many examples of Harry and Meghan doing something new and getting crucified in the press only for William and Kate to get praised for copying them and modernising the monarchy for the future,” she said.
Message to #sussexsquad— According2Taz (@superscuba83) April 27, 2020
I show my face on all my videos & have never hidden who I am. I’m confused to what you actually think you can achieve by DOXXING me? All my friends, family know what I do?
I don’t hunt u guys down & try to ruin your lives so back the hell off. pic.twitter.com/rOqNIIVotm
But the spokeswoman for the Meghanpedia team said: "Sussex Squad has no enemies. We fight for what we believe is right and are motivated by fairness and principle. That seems to anger some forces. Given that we support Meghan with evidence, we do attract anti-Meghan trolls and bots on social media. There have been some attempts to infiltrate, divide and silence the group. We know British Royal Reporters don’t really like Sussex Squad because we fact-check their made-up stories with evidence. Our loyalty and support only applies to Meghan and Harry."