Meghan Markle’s visit to a charity for sex workers was widely heralded as ‘inspirational’ last week, but the Duchess of Sussex is now facing backlash for one of the sweet-intentioned gestures she made while there.
On Friday, the pregnant royal and her husband Prince Harry, stopped at charity One25, which specialises in helping women to break free from sex work and provides practical and emotional support, including expert advice, crisis care, hot showers and lunch.
While meeting volunteers and preparing the food packages, Meghan suggested writing positive messages on the bananas, such as ‘You are brave,’ ‘You are strong,’ and ‘You are loved.’
She had been inspired by a canteen manager in the US, who wrote similar affirmations on bananas to make school children feel empowered.
However, one of the sex workers due to be handed one of the bananas told The Sun the message was offensive.
“People out here struggle to eat and sleep and she gifts us some words on a piece of fruit.
“She has the means to help us more than that. It’s offensive, you know.”
Controversial commentator Piers Morgan agreed, slamming the Duchess in an unforgiving opinion piece for the Daily Mail.
“Giving schoolchildren an ‘empowering’ banana with their lunch is one thing,” he wrote. “Giving prostitutes an ‘empowering’ banana after they’ve spent the night subjecting their bodies to often vile, sexually depraved men, is quite another.”
The move was also mocked on social media, with the phallic shape of bananas not escaping people’s notice.
— Sam (@SamSexton) February 2, 2019
Did Meghan Markle really think writing “you are loved” on banana’s to sex workers was a good idea? pic.twitter.com/wubzQqIY35
— Harry Barnes (@HarryBarnes1) February 1, 2019
Others defended her on the other hand, and the charity’s CEO Anna Smith told BAZAAR.com it was a moment she will never forget.
“That really touched me, and I’m not even a royalist,” she says.
“She was just watching the food being packed up and suddenly decided she wanted to write these beautiful messages on every banana they had there.
“She had clearly listened and heard what we are all about—that we don’t judge, we simply offer the service and unconditional love. She totally got it.”
All these people being so over sensitive about words of encouragement written on bananas are sad. Why are you sexualizing a delicious fruit? You act like a banana was a sex toy or something. Shame on you for your lack of empathy!
— Duchess Meghan Forums (@ForumsMeghan) February 4, 2019
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) February 4, 2019
With additional reporting by Danielle Stacey