Inside the acrimonious battle lines of the royal family fandom

Kate and Meghan at Wimbledon on July 14, 2018

Conflict between Kate and Meghan fans is wrapped up in identity politics, nostalgia, and the search for belonging in a fragile monarchy.

A few months ago, 17-year-old Martina received a direct message on Tumblr. It said the world would be better off without not only Meghan Markle, but also her fans. “I would kill you”, it read. Martina did what she does with almost all the abusive messages she receives online; she deleted it.

The troll doesn’t bother Martina, a Meghan stan from Argentina, because she’s used to the rival battle lines of the royal family fan groups. She has followed royal fan sites on Tumblr since she was nine and, like many of her online friends, is fully entrenched in the community’s daily life. Although she only founded her Meghan Instagram account in late January (combatively titled “defendMM”) it has already gained 3,482 followers.

“If you want my opinion, this fandom is toxic,” she tells me. Over the years Martina has learnt that this online community is extensive, diverse, and bitterly divided.

On 4 March, the royal family published its first ever set of social media guidelines warning that comments containing sexist or racist abuse would be moderated and users blocked.

“We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities,” the guidelines announced. It doesn’t take a royal family fangirl to figure out why.

At the time of writing, the most recent image of Meghan Markle on the Kensington Palace’s Instagram page had received over 6,000 comments, mostly from fans. But one week after the royal family vowed to moderate comments, abuse still appears. “She’s uggggglyyyyyyy!” one user posts. “She is so self-absorbed”, someone else wrote. More perversely, another chimes in: “this woman is NOT pregnant. How the almighty royal family is going to handle that is beyond me”.

Since Meghan announced her pregnancy on 18 October, the conspiracy that she is faking her baby bump has become increasingly popular among her trolls (the #Megxiters, as they are known to the fandom). The “proof” is various images of Meghan squatting down, which they believe a heavily pregnant woman would not be able to do. They also hypothesise at great length that the size of her baby bump is inconsistent with a genuine pregnancy.

Over time, “Megxit” (the movement to force Meghan out of the royal family) has become synonymous with support for Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Her fandom is known as the #CambridgeCult or the “Cambs”. Comparisons between the two women are unceasing. When trolls attack Meghan’s social media pictures, comments reading “Team Kate” are quick to follow.

“Queen of my heart, she was born to be royal”, writes one Twitter user in reference to the Duchess of Cambridge. She has attached a photo of Kate to her tweet, superimposed over a syrupy inspirational quote. The end of the tweet reads #Megxit #teamkate. More often than not, celebrating one translates into degrading the other. This is where the …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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