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Social media had some harsh words for Meghan Markle after her surprise appearance at the site of the Uvalde, Texas massacre that killed 21, including 19 children.
Markle was spotted on Thursday laying a bouquet of white roses at a makeshift memorial outside the Uvalde County Courthouse, not far from the scene of the senseless slayings at Robb Elementary School.
As well, she also stopped by an Uvalde community center that is hosting a blood drive, where she toured the facility and donated food, a volunteer there told DailyMail.com. ‘She did not want anybody to know who she was,’ the person said.
The duchess took the trip in a personal capacity as a mother, to offer her condolences and support in person to a community experiencing unimaginable grief, her spokesperson told People.
However, some took umbrage with what they felt was the duchess’ attempt to take center stage after an unimaginable tragedy.
They also highlighted the fact that her estranged father Thomas is currently in hospital after suffering a stroke – and that Meghan has not visited him.
Meghan Markle places a bouquet of white roses at the memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, visits a memorial site in Uvalde, Texas on Thursday, to honor the victims killed in this week’s elementary school shooting
Paying her respects in Texas, Markle was dressed incognito in a simple T shirt, jeans and ballcap, but nevertheless sported on her left wrist a $6,900 Cartier Love Bracelet and Princess Diana’s $23,000 Cartier Tank Watch
Her top bodyguard Alberto Alvarez (left) looked on as Markle walked around the memorial, looking at the white crosses bearing the names of the other victims
Britain’s Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, places flowers as she mourns at a makeshift memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse in Uvalde, Texas on Thursday
‘I find her posing like this with no doubt her own photographer utterly disgusting,’ one user tweeted. ‘I’m used to her PR stunts but this actually makes me angry. By all means, pay your respects but posing 4 photographs & releasing to the media is SICK’
Another pointed out that Markle’s father, Thomas, has been hospitalized after having a stroke.
‘All the way from California to Texas, camera in tow, to strike a pose at the memorial site of dead children,’ tweeted one user. ‘You are callous. Your PR is dark. A flight to Texas but not to your Dad.’
‘Her dad had a massive stroke a few days ago. Apparently no call, card or white roses for him yet,’ wrote another.
Speculation has swirled about whether she would visit his bedside in Chula Vista, California, only a few hours’ drive from the home she shares with Prince Harry in Montecito, following years of strain in her relationship with her father.
Thomas Markle appears on ‘Good Morning Britain.’ Meghan’s father recently suffered a severe stroke
Others made it into a political statement, comparing them to other shootings across the country.
‘Meghan Markle and other celebrities are showing up for photo ops at Uvalde… where were they for Waukesha and Brooklyn?’ asked comedian Tim Young.
On Tuesday in Uvalde, gunman Salvador Rolando Ramos, 18, perpetrated the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade, killing 19 small children and two teachers before being shot dead by police.
Paying her respects in Texas, Markle was dressed incognito in a simple T shirt, jeans and ballcap, but nevertheless sported on her left wrist a $6,900 Cartier Love Bracelet and Princess Diana’s $23,000 Cartier Tank Watch.
It was unclear whether Markle’s husband Prince Harry, who lives with her and their two children in Montecito, accompanied her on her journey to Texas, but he was not seen at the memorial or the community center with her.
Accompanying the duchess was the head of her security team Alberto Alvarez, who once handled protection for Michael Jackson. The bodyguard looked on from a respectful distance as Markle toured the impromptu memorial.
Britain’s Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle pays respect at a makeshift memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse in Uvalde, Texas, on Thursday
Markle’s visit to the small community roughly 80 miles west of San Antonio was unannounced, and came as a surprise to the town, which is still reeling in shock from the deadly tragedy
As the cameras rolled, Markle made her way around the makeshift memorial to pay her respects to those killed
Markle placed a bouquet of simple white roses at the memorial site outside of the Uvalde County Courthouse
Bodyguard Alberto Alvarez, who once handled protection for Michael Jackson, watched over Markle on her tour of mercy
‘I had no idea who she was. She just was carrying on a conversation like her and I knew each other for years,’ volunteer Gloria Contreras, 40, told BuzzFeed, which first reported Markle’s visit to the Herby Ham Activity Center as part of her Uvalde trip.
‘We were just talking about, you know, the situation and what happened what we were doing here. I told her about us giving out water to the people and and feeding them,’ Contreras said.
‘I even talked about my personal life, telling her about my son and my family and, you know, coming to Texas because she told me she was from Santa Barbara and I said, ‘Well, you need to come to Texas!” added Contreras.
‘We were talking about Texas and Uvalde and how it is to be in a small town and how everybody is so kind and warm-hearted and know we know each other and stuff and how the faith is deep-rooted.’
Though Markle did not address the press on her visit to the memorial, the American-born duchess has previously made known her views in favor of stricter gun control laws.
President Joe Biden also plans to visit Uvalde in the coming days. He has called on lawmakers to take on America’s powerful gun-rights lobby and enact ‘common sense gun reforms.’
The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest since 20 elementary-age children and six staff were killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
A Texas law enforcement official said Thursday that the Uvalde shooter entered the elementary school building ‘unobstructed’ through a door that was apparently unlocked.
People drop off flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the Robb Elementary School on Thursday in Uvalde, Texas
Salvador Ramos legally purchased two AR-15 style rifles (right) including the one he used in yesterday’s attack after his 18th birthday last week. The gunman also bought more than 300 rounds of ammunition
The shooting rampage began at 11am when Ramos shot his grandmother. At 11.15am, he sent a message to a girl in Germany telling her he was on his way to ‘shoot an elementary school’. He crashed his truck at 11.30am and made his way to the school with one AR-15 rifle. At 11.32am, he bypassed at least one cop at the school entrance. He got inside, barricaded himself in a classroom and managed to stay there for up to an hour – terrorizing kids – before he was finally gunned down
Victor Escalon, a regional director at the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the gunman did not initially encounter any law enforcement officers when he entered Robb Elementary School on Tuesday and opened fire.
Law enforcement authorities faced mounting questions and criticism Thursday over how much time elapsed before they stormed a Texas elementary school classroom and put a stop to the rampage.
Many other details about the timing of events and the police response remained murky.
The motive for the massacre remained under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.
The gunman shot his own grandmother in the face minutes before attacking the school, and his text messages indicated that he was in an argument with the 66-year-old grandma about his phone bill.