Her career in ashes following a row over racism and ‘white privilege’, Jessica Mulroney – Meghan Markle’s best friend – has made three public apologies and announced that she is stepping away from work.
Mrs Mulroney, who styled Meghan and also advised the Canadian PM’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, has been dropped by TV networks and a department store after being accused of bullying black Canadian lifestyle blogger Sasha Exeter.
It’s an ugly episode for Mrs Mulroney, 40, who, up until now, was proud to be known as the ‘fairy godmother of Canadian fashion’.
Boasted about her influence: Jessica Mulroney, above left, speaking on Canadian TV show Cityline which has now dropped her
She was well used to asserting her considerable influence both in fashion and as Meghan’s unofficial mouthpiece.
In recent months, it emerged that she had tried to manipulate a Sunday newspaper on behalf of the duchess and she had also been accused of disrespecting Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in an Instagram post which was later deleted.
The incident occurred back in January when the duchess posted pictures of Holocaust survivors. Mrs Mulroney wrote: ‘Pretty pictures are pretty pictures. Strive to use your platform for good.’
Another provocative comment came after Harry and Meghan’s announcement they were to leave the Royal Family, when she said: ‘A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.’
How ironic, therefore, that this Instagram champion for the disadvantaged, who has repeatedly called Meghan’s critics racist bullies, has now been accused of bullying herself.
Mrs Mulroney has previously remarked grandly in an interview: ‘I have a lot of friends in the entertainment business and I myself have a significant Instagram account, so I can throw them [fashion labels] a bone and wear the earrings if I like them.’
But the spat seems to have spiralled on social media after Miss Exeter called on Mrs Mulroney, who has 395,000 followers on Instagram and a bridal show on Canadian network CTV, to use her platform to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In recent months, it emerged that Mrs Mulroney had tried to manipulate a Sunday newspaper on behalf of the Duchess of Sussex. The pair pictured together in 2016
Mrs Mulroney had been posting almost daily updates about her wedding planning show I Do, Redo, in which married couples get to ‘redo’ their weddings which had been blighted by illness or other events. It was due to also go out on Netflix, internationally.
On ‘Blackout Tuesday’ she didn’t post a black square to honour George Floyd… but instead posted that love wasn’t cancelled, and plugged her show.
Miss Exeter urged her to do more. An argument followed which Miss Exeter said left her ‘paralysed in fear’, after Mrs Mulroney threatened to sue her and harm her career.
Mrs Mulroney was promptly dropped by CTV and issued a gushing apology saying: ‘I was wrong, and for that I am truly sorry… I will do everything in my power to right this wrong.’ Some sources in the American media took immediate delight in this jaw-dropping turn of events.
One said: ‘She has a reputation in some quarters for being snotty and grand. Nobody thinks for a minute that she is a racist, but nobody is shedding a tear for her either.’
Harsh, perhaps, but the humbling of this glossy social media titan does not end there.
For it seems that the events have also caused a schism between Jessica Mulroney and Meghan – who has been conspicuously silent over the scandal which has engulfed her best friend of nearly a decade.
Before Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry, she and Mrs Mulroney were close, holidaying together and she even called Meghan ‘my sweetie’.
Mrs Mulroney acted as her unofficial wedding planner and her children were pageboys and bridesmaid at the 2018 nuptials.
After the wedding, she privately visited Meghan and Prince Harry in the Cotswolds and went with them on the tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
When Meghan came to the UK to support Prince Harry in his final engagements following ‘Megxit’, baby Archie was left behind in Mrs Mulroney’s care. She has also repeatedly leaped to Meghan’s defence on Instagram.
The heir to a shoe business and married to the son of the former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, she exerts considerable influence – or did until yesterday.
It was, then, a David vs Goliath battle between Miss Exeter and Mrs Mulroney – and one that the former seems to have won. In
a video on Wednesday, Miss Exeter said she had endured ‘a series of very problematic behaviour and antics that ultimately resulted in [Mrs Mulroney] sending me a threat in writing last Wednesday’.
The message Mrs Mulroney wrote to her ran: ‘I have also spoken to companies and people about the way you have treated me unfairly. You think your voice matters. Well it only matters if you express it with kindness and without shaming people who are simply trying to learn. Good luck.’
In response Miss Exeter wrote: ‘I am by no means calling Jess a racist but what I will say is this, she is very well aware of her wealth, her perceived power and privilege because of the colour of her skin.
‘And that, my friends, gave her the momentary confidence to come for my livelihood in writing. For her to threaten me?
‘A single mother, a single black mother, during a racial pandemic? Blows my mind, it is absolutely unbelievable.’
MRS Mulroney apologised. She wrote that she had experienced racism via her friendship with Meghan. ‘As I told you privately, I have lived a very public and personal experience with my closest friend where race was front and centre. It was deeply educational. I learned a lot from that.’
She said she was ‘unequivocally sorry’ and intended ‘to continue to learn and listen on how I can use my privilege to elevate and support black voices’.
However, Exeter said Mrs Mulroney also privately sent her a text message threatening libel action which ran: ‘Liable(sic) suit. Good luck.’ Next, Mrs Mulroney issued a further apology which ran: ‘She rightfully called me out for not doing enough when it came to engaging in the important and difficult conversation around race and injustice in our society. I took it personally and that was wrong. I know I need to do better.’
There was a further apology yesterday in which she said: ‘I realise more than ever how being a white, privileged woman has put me far ahead of so many, and in particular those in the Black community.’
She added that she was stepping away from professional engagements, would not be pursuing any legal action and was ‘more committed than ever to support anti-racism efforts’.
She also said she respected the decision of CTV to drop her show.
Netflix was supposed to release it in America but has not commented. She has also been dropped by the department store Hudson’s Bay and panel discussion show Cityline say they will no longer be using her.
She had also been hired to front fashion slots on Good Morning America in 2019. But last night ABC, which broadcasts Good Morning America, said they would not be using Mrs Mulroney again as a fashion commentator, a heavy blow to any ambitions she had to make it big in the US.
The cosmetics brand Fancy Face also dropped her, saying that she no longer aligned with their values. What is mystifying is how someone as savvy as Mrs Mulroney could get it so wrong.
One TV source said: ‘I don’t think it’s about anything more than her ego but to touch the third rail which is race in America at this moment is jaw-dropping.’