UK’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle swept back into London for what amounted to a farewell tour as royals the past few days. They brought their A-game as they went from grinning in the rain to kibitzing with former servicemen and women at an awards ceremony to sweeping into Royal Albert Hall, each in red formal wear, for the Mountbatten Festival of Music.
And if they were worried about getting the coronavirus, they didn’t show it. Meghan embraced teens at a school during an International Women’s Day celebration, and Harry bro-hugged Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton at a racing museum.
No royal hugs
But Harry had no hug for his actual brother, William — at least not in public — at the Commonwealth Day Service that served as the renegade royal couple’s final, super dressed-up event with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and others before returning to their self-imposed exile in Canada and ending their time as working royals.
During the service in Westminster Abbey, the brothers, who for years have appeared so close, sat one row apart. They barely exchanged words.
What a sad note to leave on — if not for them, then for the rest of us who thought Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, would offer an invigorating dose of diversity to a hidebound royal family and be interesting to watch. But after Meghan spent the year being bashed by the tabloids, they both looked for an exit and found it in Canada, hunkering down in a borrowed estate.
“While recent tabloid coverage has made it seem like the Sussexes’ half-in-half-out bid was about wanting it all, the reality was a couple who were left with no other choice but to create their own change after being left to fend for themselves against impossible circumstances — even during her pregnancy,” Daily Mail reported.
The Sussexes upended the public relations juggernaut that is the royal family by leaving England and declaring they would make money on their own. Which may be easier said than done — but still relatively easy for a couple who remain global celebrities. They appeared at a JP Morgan event in Miami last month where Harry reportedly talked about his experience with psychotherapy, which he’s been pretty open about. We don’t know if they were paid, but this would certainly be the kind of engagement that could earn them generous fees.
When Harry and Meghan officially enter their new arrangement as non-working royals at the end of the month, they will reportedly retain their positions as President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. Meghan only received her title of VP last year.
“In this new role, the Duchess will highlight the Trust’s partnerships with young people across the Commonwealth, and in particular its work supporting women and girls,” a statement from the Trust at the time explained.
They’ve agreed not to call themselves “royal” — as in the “Sussex Royal” handle on their website (which has a lot of detail about their disengagement from the royal family).
Clearly, they wanted to keep using “royal” to brand whatever they end up branding. They even say on their website that neither the monarchy nor the British government could stop them from using the word overseas — but they would drop it anyway. So on that slightly peevish note, they leave their positions as working royals. The question is what kind of stage will we see them on next?
— Carla Hall is a columnist and an editor.
Los Angeles Times