Whenever I read stories with headlines like, ‘2bn Tonnes Of Raw Sewage Released Into Pristine River’, I think of Meghan Markle.
The Duchess of Sussex, 40, has an unhappy habit of having foetid tides of raw internet dumped onto her unceremoniously. All the tiaras and Netflix deals in the world cannot compensate for limitless stream of stinking hot takes slopped into her regal environs.
Markle was spotted on Thursday laying a bouquet of white roses at a makeshift memorial outside the Uvalde County Courthouse, not far from the scene of the shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 21, including 19 children.
The duchess took the trip in a personal capacity as a mother, to offer her condolences and support in person to a community experiencing unimaginable grief, her spokesperson told People. 'She did not want anybody to know who she was,' a volunteer told The Daily Mail.
However, some took umbrage with what they felt was the duchess's attempt to take center stage after an unimaginable tragedy.
They also highlighted the fact that her estranged father Thomas is currently in hospital after suffering a stroke - and that Meghan has not visited him.
All the way from California to Texas, camera in tow, to strike a pose at the memorial site of dead children,' tweeted one user. 'You are callous. Your PR is dark. A flight to Texas but not to your Dad.'
'Her dad had a massive stroke a few days ago. Apparently no call, card or white roses for him yet,' wrote another.
On Tuesday, Meghan's estranged father, Thomas, was admitted to hospital in California having suffered a major stroke. It has left him unable to speak just a week before he was to fly to London for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. GMB presenter Dan Wootton, who was set to host Thomas Markle on his show, reported that the 77-year-old is receiving “urgent medical attention”.
Mr Markle, a former TV lighting director, is now reportedly in a clinic in Chula Vista, California, a few hours’ drive away from the Montecito home Meghan shares with husband Harry, 37, and their two children Archie, three, and Lilibet, 11 months.
This, usually, is the point at which common decency suggests we lay off a woman reeling 24 hours after receiving bad news about her dad. Instead, Tom Bower, a journalist working on a biography of Meghan Markle (he’s been working closely with Mr Markle), told Good Morning Britain that she should visit her father immediately: ‘We know she hasn't [made any contact]. There hasn’t been any contact since just before the wedding day - other than the famous letter.’ (That would be the 2019 five-page letter in which she asked her ‘Daddy’, with a heavy heart, to stop smearing her relationship with Prince Harry — who he called ‘snotty’ — in the press.)
To which we say: enough. No further. Why can't we allow this woman to pay her respect to stricken Americans without slamming her for imagined selfishness? What's more, it is simply not our place to decree how another family behaves in matters of sickness and ill-health. It is bad enough that ghoulish footage of the sickly Thomas, wearing an oxygen mask and being wheeled by paramedics into an ambulance, exists for the viewing pleasure of a mawkish society.
Imagine, for a moment, that your father is being wheeled into the wan light of an airless hospital foyer. Perhaps you know the feeling. You yourself are sick with worry. Do you a) want the advice of everyone in the world b) wish to brief everyone in the world on what and how you are doing c) want everyone to, please God, leave you alone in what feels like the worst week of your life? Shutter the sluice gates. Take the hot takes out of the oven. Breathe. To misquote an old classic: leave Meghan alone.