As Meghan and Harry head to the UK, there are fears it will be chaos from the moment they land.
The rebels are what make the royal story interesting: otherwise, they’re just a bunch of weak-chinned morons who have a bad habit of marrying their cousins and occasionally trying to invade France.
The modern British royal family is no different thanks in large part to the capricious diversions of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex. (Or, as I like to think of them, the breakaway state of Sussex.)
In the coming days, the renegade duo will hit London, their first full return since throwing in the royal towel in 2020, and the one question no one can answer about the trip is: Can Sussex make it through the four days of Platinum Jubilee events without going rogue?
It’s an unknown that has Buckingham Palace aides worried, according to a new report in The Telegraphwith fears that a ‘Sussex bomb’ could be dropped during the Jubilee as ‘courtiers did everything in their power to diffuse any potential flashpoints’.
(Anyone else imagine courtiers are roaming the palace right now dismantling questionable works of art? Let’s never forget that William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge fortunately left a table titled The Negro Page on the wall of their apartment at Kensington Palace when the President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama came to dinner.)
While the Jubilee long weekend packed with official events, including the first Trooping the Color to be held since 2019, the Platinum Jubilee Concert at the Palace and a Platinum Pageant involving 5,000 people and an alarming number of puppets – all of whom are totally under the control of the Palace mandarins – it’s what Harry and Meghan might be doing outside of that schedule that worries.
The Telegraph‘Camilla Tominey, who announced that Harry was dating the Combinations star in 2016, reported that “the powers that be seem to have little knowledge of any of the [the Sussexes] ‘unofficial’ plans” and that “their habit of making unpublished appearances… understandably led to fears of a ‘circus’ following their every move.
Just last week Meghan managed to spark a minor furor when she made a surprise appearance in Uvalde, Texas last week after 19 schoolchildren and two teachers were brutally shot dead by a sniper.
(Even in her royal debut, the Duchess has shown a propensity for going off-script, such as when, in early 2019 in Bristol, she decided to write ostensibly empowering banana messages that would be given to sex workers.)
As for the Sussexes’ UK getaway, the only confirmed details are that they will be staying at Frogmore Cottage, their five-bedroom Windsor home which was until recently inhabited by Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank, and Harry and Meghan will be attending Friday’s service of thanksgiving for the Queen at St Paul’s. (This week it was revealed that Eugenie and Jack are leaving Frogmore and will split their time between a coastal town in Portugal where Brooksbank will work on a luxury property development and Ivy Cottage at Kensington Palace.)
With just one outing verified on the books, that leaves plenty of time for the couple to turn up at any number of UK schools, day care centers or dog rescues to remind everyone how much they care.
The problem is that no one really seems to know what they plan to do with their time during their British getaway. In other Telegraph report over the weekend, the newspaper’s royal correspondent revealed that the Sussexes “would only have been in contact with the palace to discuss logistical arrangements for the Jubilee, with royal aides kept at arm’s length from their wider plans”.
Regarding the possibility “that the couple will only make official commitments”, a source told the newspaper: “We will see”.
However, all of that said, the same report also said that former serving royals plan to behave at their best and “intend to limit themselves to public engagements during the Jubilee, spending time with their families in private but not making unannounced visits elsewhere”. .
The thing you have to ask yourself here is what do Harry and Meghan need to get out of this UK excursion? They might have a big estate with 16 restrooms and so many business deals going on that momager Kris Jenner would be green with envy for the greenback, but look past the press releases and their many loos and things are starting to look much less golden.
In almost two years, they have failed to release a single content for Netflix, though the streaming giant has signed a deal worth up to $140 million with the duo. Earlier this month, one of their only two projects that were announced was scrapped and last week it was reported that they were now working on something called an “at home” docuseries.
Watching Harry and Meghan hour after hour deal with a capital “c” isn’t the same as the “impactful content that unlocks the action” they originally promised to create.
Likewise, they might have signed a $35 million Spotify deal in 2020, but so far they’ve only released one half-hour limp podcast involving a purse of their famous friends chatting and a trailer for Meghan’s upcoming series titled Archetypes who encountered a collective “meh”.
Nor have they really made any significant headway in defining themselves as humanitarians, opinion leaders or, in Meghan’s case, proto-political powerhouses.
In short, the Great Megxit Experiment hasn’t really paid off for the Sussexes so far, other than banding them together with a designer chicken coop and a promise to do a lot of work that the public has so far not seen. little evidence that they even really got started.
Two years after arriving in California, their star megawattage has faded and they’ve become just another part of the fabric of celebrities in the United States, hardly the glittering globetrotting philanthropist ideal that many (including myself ) thought they would become.
What they need right now to pull themselves out of the PR slump is a timely injection of royal stardust and a chance to remind the world that they’re so much more than Kardashian-lite TV fodder.
With the eyes of the world about to land on London and the international media horde currently settling down Palais Street, will the Duke and Duchess pass up this opportunity to reclaim the front of the scene, even briefly?
Based on past form, such as their October 2019 documentary about their tour of southern Africa where they spoke about the difficulty of royal life, and Harry’s recent comments about wanting to make sure the Queen was “protected,” they have a knack for taking if not tickety-boo, moments of simple navigation and redirecting attention to themselves.
The possibilities of how this could play out during Jubilee go beyond possible surprise school visits as their young children Archie, 3, and baby Lilibet will also be traveling with them.
Archie hasn’t seen this British family since he was around six months old and Lili has never set foot on British soil and the Queen is expected to spend time with the toddlers.
Given that Harry and Meghan have a proven track record of private family relationships that are too public (Oh hey Oprah!), could we see them, for example, posting a photo of Her Majesty with her little namesake Lili or some other snap? touching this week?
After everything we’ve seen over the past two years, nothing is really out of place right now.
Just in case anyone is worried that things are too simple, there’s also the Netflix issue. While the streaming giant hasn’t requested press accreditation for public Jubilee events, “the prospect of a Netflix film crew also making an appearance would be cause for consternation,” according to the Telegraph.
Even with the forbidden palace, where does Frogmore fall? Who would make the final decision on whether prying lenses could be allowed to break into the designer walls of the Sussex home? (Monday evening, The Sun reported that the duo have renewed their lease on the property.)
If the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to mount some sort of coup this week, it would be a gamble. Not only would the British press and public be apoplectic, but the Queen is still widely respected and loved in the United States.
Doing anything to detract from his big celebration might not play well for American audiences, the same people the Sussexes need to stream, listen to and buy their next content offerings.
Going down this rogue path would also undo any mending of family bridges that may have been going on behind the scenes. (During the weekend The Mirror reported that William and Harry met FaceTiming to “bounce back” ahead of Jubilee.)
For now it’s a waiting game, and for the Palace? It might not be a bad idea to start battening down the hatches.
Daniela Elser is a royal pundit and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of top media titles in Australia.
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