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Leona O'Neill: Criticism of Meghan Markle's New York baby shower is totally unfair

Meghan Markle has been accused of being hypocritical after wealthy friends held a baby shower for her in New York's most expensive hotel, but there's more than a hint of hypocrisy in some of the criticism itself, writes Leona O'Neill

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pictured in New York ahead of her baby shower earlier this month. Picture by Kevin Hagen/AP

THERE has been much said about Meghan Markle’s lavish New York baby shower this last week. The Duchess of Sussex, who is due to give birth to her and Prince Harry’s first child this spring, brought some of her closest friends together in the Big Apple in the most American of traditions last week.

The event was attended by an array of the 37-year-old duchess's high-profile celebrity friends, with tennis star Serena Williams and Amal Clooney among those in attendance.

As guests arrived with lavish gifts in the Upper East Side hotel The Mark – New York’s most expensive hotel, where rooms cost an extravagant £57,000 a night – harpist Erin Hill performed a £480 repertoire and £230 designer Away suitcases were given to guests as party favours, British commentators began lashing out at the American-born princess.

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan was among the most vocal to attack Meghan. In a vicious rant, he said the queen would be "concerned" about the extravagant shower "rubbing people’s noses in her wealth" and that she "can’t have her cake and eat it".

“We don't really have baby showers really in Britain,” he told media last week. “The concept of a very extravagant party with a load of famous people turning up to celebrate the arrival of a baby in a couple of months is not something we would do so the queen would be like, 'What is this?' to start with.”

We like humble royals, said Piers, who would appear to be putting himself forward as a "man of the people", despite being believed to be worth around £15.4 million himself.

Kensington Palace did not help matters by posting about poverty in the UK the day before the celebrations.

Their post on Twitter said: “73 per cent of the poorest families cannot always afford to feed their children during the school holidays, a gap which is estimated to affect three million children and young people across the UK, and 700,000 in London.”

Twitter users quickly reacted to the post and some said this was "hypocritical" and a cyber lynch mob went on the attack, taking pregnant Meghan to virtual pieces online.

As the furore mounted it turned out that the taxpayers did not pay for the celebration, – rather, Meghan’s friend Serena Williams did. Meghan did not spend thousands of a private jet, she hitched a lift with Amal Clooney. And during the baby shower, guests made floral arrangements which were then gifted to charity.

While Meghan leads a very gilded life and does not have the financial burdens the rest of us must endure, I feel very sorry for her. The British media are whipping the public up into a frenzy of hate against this soon-to-be mother whose family appear to be rather dysfunctional and fond of selling gut-wrenchingly personal and negative stories about her to the press.

The vicious coverage put out last week led Hollywood superstar George Clooney to claim Meghan was being "vilified and chased" in the same way as Harry's mother, the late princess Diana, was.

She was rich and famous before she met Prince Harry and, as such, moved in a rich-and-famous circle of friends. The baby shower was lavish, yes. But as far as I’m concerned, rich people can spend their money whatever way they see fit. It is, after all, a free world.

As long as they are not spending my money, they can work away with their fancy soirees.

And despite what Piers Morgan thinks, baby showers are not confined to the lives of the rich and famous. It is a very American thing, granted, but the tradition is seeping over here. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it at all. In fact I think it is a beautiful way for friends and family to celebrate a very special time in any woman’s life, whether they live in Kensington Palace or Craigavon.

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