Prince Harry and Meghan Markle talk about parenting ‘heartache’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a swipe at social media for putting children in danger on a day in which Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said “the best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe from” social media platforms and said they had heard the “heartache” of parents who want change.

Zuckerberg, whose company runs Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp, was among those grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday over online harm, as was Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel.

The Facebook founder apologized to parents in the audience who said Instagram contributed to their children’s suicide or exploitation, adding: “I’m sorry for everything you’ve all gone through.”

Prince Harry, Meghan Alongside Mark Zuckerberg
Main image, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit at the Project Healthy Minds’ World Mental Health Day Festival, in New York City, on October 10, 2023. Inset, Mark Zuckerberg testifies… Main image, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit at the Project Healthy Minds’ World Mental Health Day Festival, in New York City, on October 10, 2023. Inset, Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., on January 31, 2024. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Project Healthy Minds/Alex Wong/Getty Images

The same day, Harry and Meghan released a statement stating that their Archewell Foundation has been working on a support network for affected parents: “We applaud the bravery and determination of the thousands of parents around the country whose advocacy resulted in this hearing.

“Over the past few years, we have spent time with many of these families, listening to their heartache and their hopes for the urgent change that is needed in the online space.

“This is an issue that transcends division and party lines, as we saw today at the Senate hearing. The best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe from these platforms.

“As one of the fathers shared with us: ‘If love could have saved them, all of our children would still be here.’

“This is not the time to pass the buck of responsibility. It’s the time to make necessary change at the source to keep our children safe.”

Harry and Meghan’s own children are still young, with Prince Archie approaching his fifth birthday in May and Princess Lilibet aged two.

However, the couple are themselves regular targets for online trolls with some posts containing racist or hateful messages, or conspiracy theories such as that Meghan faked her pregnancy.

Divorce rumors circulated about them for months over the summer on websites including YouTube and X, formerly Twitter, while they were out of the public eye, only to die down after a public display of affection between them at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games in September.

In 2020, Meghan told the Teenager Therapy podcast: “I’m told that in 2019 I was the most trolled person in the entire world—male or female.

“Now eight months of that I wasn’t even visible. I was on maternity leave or with a baby but what was able to just be manufactured and churned out, it’s almost unsurvivable.”

Zuckerberg’s testimony to the committee hearing on “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis” read: “Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Technology gives us new ways to communicate with our kids and feel connected to their lives, but it can make parenting more complicated, too.

“It’s important to me that our services are positive for everyone who uses them.
We’re focused on building controls to help parents navigate the reality of raising kids today, including tools that enable them to be more involved in their kids’ decisions.”

Asked by Senator Josh Hawley about the testimony of parents, he added: “It’s terrible. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered.”

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on X, formerly Twitter, at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.