How on earth have ‘feuding’ Kate and Meghan resisted the urge for a bare-knuckle street fight?

The royal women are the latest targets of our ludicrously high bar for the quality of female friendships

Shaparak Khorsandi
Friday 28 December 2018 15:59 GMT
Kate and Meghan all smiles as royals attend church in Sandringham

Did you see? DID YOU SEE? According the tabloid headlines which infiltrated my food-befogged Christmas bliss, Meghan and Kate put up a “united front” when attending the traditional royal Christmas church service at Sandringham. How wonderful that they walked elegantly up the path greeting well-wishers instead of rolling over each other pulling hair and screeching into each other’s faces as it would seem some expected.

For what it’s worth, two grown-ups who married into the same family being friendly and civil to each other is pretty normal. A far better use of “united front” is when two parents try desperately not to laugh and undermine each other as they scold their toddler for smearing poo on the walls.

If, like me, you idle into news sludge when you’re meant to be working, you’ll know that the relationship between these two women has been scrutinised and critiqued as through they were married to the same man rather than two entirely separate royal princes.

“Body language experts” (that was never an option offered to me by my careers advisor) have been drafted in to examine their gait, their glances. Fashion experts compare their outfits Kate’s says “quiet”, “dignified”, “motherhood”; Meghan’s says “flamingo”, “potato” and “sandwiches’’ or something along those lines.

Unless skipping hand in hand through meadows, these two high-profile women, neither of whom are permitted to have a cathartic rant on Twitter to put the rumours of a “rift” to bed, were always going to be pitted against each other. Why? Well, they are women of course.

For some reason we haven’t got our heads around that fact that when women aren’t best friends, that does not mean that they are foes. Again, through pathological procrastination, I know that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift don’t like each other. They were friends but fell out. So what? They don’t even work together.

Rumour has it that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards aren’t mates. The Gallagher brothers are a circus of brotherly hate, but two women falling out? “WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?” the magazines scream. Are you in “CAMP KATY OR CAMP TAYLOR?” Or, to put it another way, ‘which of these women do you hate the least?

Even away from the celebrity and royal circuits, when two women don’t see eye to eye, it’s magnified into some sort of war. Have you ever heard someone say “meow” when one woman is complaining about another? Chances are you have. From now on, I’m going to bark when a man complains about another bloke. Shall we make that socially acceptable? In the name of fun if not equality.

There is an expectation for women to get on. All women. It’s almost understandable from a sociological point of view. Women form support networks, we look for alliances. Much as I have loved the male lovers in my life, it’s my friendships with women that have given me the emotional support, the belly laughs and conversations that help me make sense of whatever it is I’ve been trying to navigate.

I jumped out of a helicopter at the end of last year (my friend told me to do it). It was petrifying. As I floated down to planet Earth, which, by the way, from all the way up there looks like carpet underlay, I was full of emotion. It was so beautiful (I’m a big fan of underlay) and the thought that came to me crystal clear was: “I need to change my life; I do not see my girlfriends enough.” And I did.

I’ve never been one for “girls’ nights out”, it’s my own friends I want, not a gaggle of other people’s. I went to a hen night when I was 21 and have avoided every single one since. However, wherever I have worked or moved to, especially since having children, I’ve woven a network of female friends. Quite unconsciously. Women are like that.

“Fancy a coffee?” is an easy phrase between two women who barely know each other. It’s not the same for men, making friends as an adult seems trickier for them. A man saying “Mike, the bloke from down the road, has invited me out for cocktails” is rare.

You don’t have to be an expert to understand the innate bonding between women. It’ll have something to do with our ancient role as homemakers and child bearers.

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But even if you don’t make a home, or bear children, the wiring is the same. Prehistoric women needed other mums to go for a coffee with too. Those women you see in coffee shops with their buggies obstructing the way? I see them much derided on social media. Their mundane chatter about sleep patterns and poos may not be exciting for eavesdroppers, but what these women are doing, these sleep-deprived souls in charge of tiny, helpless humans, is hanging on to each other for dear life. It’s a survival mechanism, not just a craving for a latte.

So we – or more accurately, the media – try to find a chink in female relationships because women not being friends is seen as abnormal. This scrutiny makes working with other woman tricky. There is such pressure to all get on, disagreements in a workplace are amplified. When it’s two women who disagree, it’s a “cat fight” rather than a matter requiring two adults to work things out.

So who cares if Kate thinks Meghan is a bit of wazzock? Or if Meghan already resents Kate for inheriting the gold piano? Any grown-up who gives a toss needs to, well, grow up.

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