Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the former duke and duchess of Sussex, have taken America by storm. Their arrival on our shores is reminiscent of the British invasion in the 1960s. Except, instead of selling music, Harry and Meghan are here to sell us their ideas and personas. They haven’t just quit working for the royal family, they found a better gig.
Their post-royal trajectory resembles that of post-presidency Barack and Michelle Obama. Harry and Meghan give interviews, publish books, and launch charitable ventures. This is earning them a fortune, but they still claim to be victims.
The couple left the British royal family, a move dubbed “Megxit” in the press, in January 2020. Since then, they have rarely been off the front pages. Harry made headlines when he blamed “mass-scale misinformation” for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy during a virtual appearance at the GQ Men of the Year awards on September 2.
Harry and Meghan embrace every standard liberal position, particularly a horror of people getting information from any source other than legacy media outlets and institutions.
In March, Prince Harry joined the Aspen Institute’s new Commission on Information Disorder. The commission’s stated aim is to “wrestle with the impact and problem of mis- and disinformation across all aspects of modern society, from the 2020 election and vaccine safety…” They hope to “engage disaffected populations who have lost faith in evidence-based reality.”
If you object to a British prince telling American citizens what they should believe about their own presidential election, then you are out of touch. Harry and his fellow commission members, who include Katie Couric, Garry Kasparov, and Kathryn Murdoch (daughter-in-law of Rupert), inhabit a rarefied circle that transcends old-fashioned notions like nationality.
When Harry and Meghan announced Megxit, they said they wanted to “work to become financially independent.” They have achieved that goal and then some. Like the Obamas, they have a Netflix deal estimated to be worth over $100 million. Like the Obamas, they have a podcast deal with Spotify estimated to be worth $25 million. To date, however, the only memorable moment of their podcast was their toddler Archie joining them to say “happy new year.”
Like the Obamas, they also have a book deal. They were paid around $20 million to write four books, including Harry’s memoir. Meghan had already published a children’s book called “The Bench” whose aim she says is “to depict another side of masculinity — one grounded in connection, emotion, and softness.”
Like the Obamas, Harry and Meghan have launched a charitable foundation. It’s called Archewell. According to its website, Archewell’s mission is to “unleash the power of compassion to drive systemic cultural change.”
Meghan celebrated her 40th birthday with an initiative called 40×40 in which she asked 40 friends to spend 40 minutes mentoring a woman who lost her job in the pandemic back into the workforce. Some of the people who have signed up for 40×40, like Sheryl Sandberg, make sense. Others, like Amanda Gorman, are less obvious. It’s hard to imagine what kind of career advice the 23-year-old who is best-known for reading a poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration could offer.
No one would be paying Harry and Meghan so much attention and money were it not for their connection to the British royal family. Despite being members of the institution that for the past 1,000 years was the very definition of privilege, Harry and Meghan like to present themselves as victims. They were chased out of their palace in the UK, and they sought refuge in a $14 million mansion in California.
In interviews, Harry regularly draws parallels between Meghan and his mother, Diana, the beloved and tragic princess who died in 1997. He told Oprah, “History was repeating itself. My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn’t white and now look what’s happened.” If there is any truth to that, it is only in the sense of Marx’s famous words that history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce.
Is it any wonder Harry and Meghan prefer their new life in California over the slog and restrictions of royal duty? They can rake in millions; they can say and do whatever they please with no one holding them to account; and, at the end of the day, they can still claim to be victims.
Back in Britain, the royal family has weathered Megxit fairly well. By now, Harry and Meghan have given so many interviews bashing the royals that the novelty has worn off and most members of the British public are fed up with them. Harry suffered a huge drop in his approval rating in Britain. In fact, he has crashed even further than his father Prince Charles did in the 1990s after his divorce from Princess Diana.
Do Harry and Meghan care? Probably not. The British public isn’t their target audience anymore. They have transcended royalty. As long as Netflix and Spotify continue to pay, they will carry on as they are.