Cape Town – If there is anyone who may understand what it feels like to be a royal and under the judgemental eye of the world better, it’s Sarah Ferguson.
The Duchess of York, who was married to Prince Charles’ younger brother Prince Andrew for 10 years, has penned an open letter on the negative effects of social media in support of the #HelloToKindness campaign, launched by British magazine Hello!
In the letter, published by Hello!, Fergie highlights some positives but mostly negatives of the internet and how her relationship with her late sister-in-law Princess Diana was portrayed compared to how Kate’s relationship with sister-in-law Meghan is portrayed now.
“In so many ways, the internet has been a force for good. It enables us to keep in touch with friends and family all across the world. Our children can access the sum total of human knowledge at the touch of a button, wherever they are,” Fergie begins the letter.
“And social media means anyone can have a public platform to express their views, keep in touch with whatever sort of news they are interested in and develop relationships that would never have been possible before,” she continues.
Royals are not allowed to have personal social media accounts, but the 59-year-old has her own Instagram and Twitter pages which she says, “allow me to communicate directly with people who are interested, promote my charitable causes and let people read my own words rather than someone else's slant on them.”
And while Fergie believes there are good sides to the internet and social media, there are very negative sides, too.
“I rarely if ever go ‘below the line’ on social media or news websites and read people’s comments. I know that a lot say nice things, but there's a large minority who seem to think that all the normal rules of society don't apply to the internet,” she explains.
Elaborating on her statement, Fergie goes on to point out how she and Princess Diana were pitted against each other – very similarly to the way the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex are being pitted against each other right now.
“Bullying, sniping, bitching, even the most appalling sexism, racism and homophobia are commonplace – it seems that online, anything goes.
“Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt.”
In support of palace officials recently calling for an end to social media abuse of Kate and Meghan, Fergie announced that “it’s time to take a stand” against online abuse.
“Let's all try to think before we post. Let's all try to treat each other a little more gently. Before starting an argument online, take a deep breath and try to respect someone else's position.”
READ THE FULL LETTER HERE: