Meghan says she suffered 'hateful' and 'cruel' abuse while she was pregnant

The Duchess of Sussex has revealed she received "hateful" abuse on social media while she was pregnant with both of her children, saying it was "cruel".

Appearing on a panel at the SXSW Conference in Texas to mark International Women's Day, Meghan was asked how she dealt with "endless toxicity" online.

The duchess said "for my wellbeing" she "keeps distance" from social media now, but added that she suffered "the bulk of the bullying and abuse I was experiencing" while she was pregnant with both Archie and Lilibet.

With Prince Harry sitting in the front row of the conference, Meghan said: "You just think about that and you have to really wrap your head around why people would be so hateful.

"It's not catty, it's cruel. Why you would do that?

"And certainly when you're pregnant or as mums we know it's such a tender and sacred time."

She added: "You could succumb to it, or nearly succumb to how painful that is.

"Or maybe because I was pregnant that mammalian instinct just kicks in to do everything you can to protect your child and as a result protect yourself too."

Prince Archie was born in May 2019, while Princess Lilibet was born in California in June 2021 after the Sussexes moved to the US.

Described by the event's organisers as a "visionary female leader", Meghan appeared on a panel which included actress Brooke Shields, 58.

After explaining how at the age of 11 she campaigned to get a sexist advert changed, Meghan said: "Your voice is not small, it just needs to be heard."

The 42-year-old added: "It's funny to look back at it now as it was before social media where you had a reach that was so much greater - it was just an 11-year-old with a pen and paper - but goes to show if you know there is something wrong and you're using your voice to advocate for what is right, that really lands and resonates with people."

Recalling her starring role in the 1978 film Pretty Baby, Shields joked in response: "This is one of the ways we're different - when I was 11 I was playing a prostitute."

Read more:
Prince Edward wipes away tears after wife's speech
Kate's 'bad uncle' talks Harry and Meghan

Previously, Meghan has said she was the world's most trolled person in 2019.

In a podcast to mark World Mental Health Day, she said the impact on her health was "so damaging".

"I wasn't even visible, I was on maternity leave with the baby - but what was able to be manufactured and churned out, it's almost unsurvivable, it's so big you can't even think what that feels like," she said.