The Duchess of Sussex has revealed she does not read newspapers or engage with Twitter to avoid getting “muddled” by the “noise”, whether positive or negative.
Meghan’s admission came when she joined a star-studded panel of feminists and national figures to mark International Women’s Day, and described the Duke of Sussex as part of the conversation on gender equality.
Singer Annie Lennox appeared alongside the duchess, with former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard and others, to debate a range of issues affecting women today.
Meghan was asked by the chairwoman, Anne McElvoy, senior editor of The Economist, how she responded to newspaper headlines describing her feminism as “trendy” and whether it was “water off a duck’s back”.
The duchess said: “I don’t read anything, it’s much safer that way, but equally that’s just my own personal preference, because I think positive or negative, it can all sort of just feel like noise to a certain extent these days, as opposed to getting muddled with that to focus on the real cause.
“So for me, I think the idea of making the word feminism trendy, that doesn’t make any sense to me personally, right? This is something that is going to be part of the conversation forever.”
When asked later if she looked at Twitter she replied: “No, sorry no. For me that’s my personal preference.”
The duchess’s admission that she does not read newspapers means she will not have seen coverage of her first year as a royal, which has been dominated by articles about a supposed spat between herself and the Duchess of Cambridge.
It was announced this week that the Royal Family’s social media accounts will block trolls who post offensive or abusive messages on official channels.
The move followed the story that Kensington Palace staff spend hours moderating online abuse aimed at Kate and Meghan.
The duchess told the audience of around 140 students and activists, including broadcasters Konnie Huq and Moira Stuart and digital entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox: “It’s our responsibility to make a choice on what we click on, we make a choice of what we read, we make a choice of what we engage in, that’s our personal decision to not be there for negativity, to be more positive and action based.
“And for me that’s a tricky one because I’m not part of any of that.”
In what might be taken as a reference to her relationship with Harry, who has spoken in the past about having Meghan working by his side, the duchess said during the debate: “This is really about us working together, that’s what gender equality means to me.
“And having been part of that conversation you say ‘there’s nothing threatening about a woman coming up to the same level, it’s our safety in numbers, this is our power and our strength as a team’ – and that’s gender neutral if you really think about it.”
The duchess made the audience laugh when she added: “I think that men are part of the conversation – my husband certainly is.”
Meghan was earlier named vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, which staged the event at King’s College London, and will now help highlight the body’s work with young people across the Commonwealth, particularly supporting women and girls.
When asked by the chairwoman “how’s the bump treating you?”, the heavily pregnant duchess replied: “Very well”.
She said she had been watching a “documentary about feminism on Netflix and one of the things they said during pregnancy was ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism’”.
She told the audience: “I loved that – boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that’s the case.”