Harry and Meghan ‘must choose’ their royal role says Owen
Meghan Markle is either oblivious to the damage she has caused the Royal Family or “doesn’t care”, a royal commentator has suggested. And Jonathan Sacerdoti also believes given the Sussexes’ tendency to make damaging claims, King Charles III is likely to wait until the release of their new Netflix series, and the publication of Harry’s eagerly awaited memoir, before making any decisions about possible titles for their children – and his grandchildren – Archie and Lilibet.
Mr Sacerdoti, a journalist who has featured on the BBC, Sky News and Fox News among other media outlets, was speaking in the wake of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on September 19, which saw the royals temporarily reunited at Westminster Abbey.
However, Meghan and Harry rapidly returned to California, where they now live, afterwards, in a stark illustration of the physical and metaphorical gap between them and Harry’s father, the UK’s new Monarch, since they stepped down as frontline royals in 2020. Their decision was prompted, in part, by their resentment at perceived press intrusion, with Meghan telling Oprah Winfrey during last year’s explosive CBS interview she had even considered the idea of suicide as a result of the pressure she felt she was under.
Meghan also suggested other senior royals sought to brush off her concerns about her mental health – and claimed one unnamed member of the Royal Family had also speculated about the skin-tone of as-yet-unborn Archie.
Mr Sacerdoti told Express.co.uk it had been clear from an early stage that Meghan, 41, was not comfortable with the role allotted to her after marrying Harry, 37, in 2018.
He said: “I do think that Meghan came to the Royal Family at an older age than some non-royal spouses do with an experience of fame and how to deal with the press and publicity that came from a very different backgrounds, that of acting and modelling rather than royalty. So, even though there are other non-royals who have married into the Royal Family, they tended not to come from that sort of background.”
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix show is likely to be monitored by King Charles III
Meghan Markle has voiced her concerns about the UK press
Some had joined the family at a young age, and others – for example Sophie Wessex – “came from a PR background themselves” and therefore had some understanding of how things worked, Mr Sacerdoti stressed.
He added: “So I think that in Meghan’s case, it would be fair to say that her experience is of getting notoriety and fame and celebrity through tried and tested means, and that they don’t necessarily work very well for the Royal Family. Now, those who don’t like her might say that she’s deliberate about it now and she doesn’t maybe care about the damage it might do the Royal Family.
“Other might say him she doesn’t realise the difference, and by her own admission, if you take her words at face value, she said in previous interviews that she didn’t understand how the British tabloids and the Royal Family worked when she entered into this. And so maybe she didn’t realise how this worked in the UK and internationally when it comes to royalty.
“Either way, I think there’s an admission on her part in the past that she didn’t know how the royals worked with the press, and then as she actually got to learn them, she didn’t like them.”
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King Charles III acceded to the throne on September 8
The Duke of Sussex himself was likewise uncomfortable dealing with the attentions the UK press, Mr Sacerdoti acknowledged.
He said: “Harry’s always had that throughout his life before he even knew her and you can understand why. This is a man who grew up as a child with the press knowing his every move.
“The biggest scandals in the 90s being his parents’ private lives and the breakdown of their marriage and that involves him and his brother.
“Of course he doesn’t feel he can trust the press or like the system by which the Royal Family interacts with the press, I completely understand that and he talks about having trauma, almost post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of hearing camera clicks and what the press have said about him. He often said that they got things wrong and made things up so maybe he too is not interested in playing by those rules.”
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Nevertheless, Mr Sacerdoti questioned the way in which Meghan and particular had characterised her objections to the royal rota system, which is essentially a means of managing access by the controlled release of material, including pictures.
He continued: “She talks about it in relation to releasing a photo of Archie when he was born – she didn’t understand why she should release a photo to the royal rota and why it’s done that way when she could post on her Instagram. And in actual fact that was what was interesting because it seemed to me that the royal rota is actually designed and the idea of a press pool is designed to minimise the presence of press in the lives of royalty because the press share stuff between each other in those situations and the palace carefully regulates what they’re given.
“That was her complaint, she didn’t want press at the school gates every day when she took the kids to school and things like that. So it seems contradictory to me that she was the one complaining about the sort of volume of press intrusion into her life but the other hand saying that she didn’t like the system in place to try and minimise that press intrusion.”
The question of titles for Archie and Lilibet is something of a grey area. A so-called Letters Patent issued by George V, the Queen’s grandfather, in 1917, implying that, constitutionally at least, the pair became Prince and Princess respectively – but there has been no official conformation of this by Buckingham Palace.
Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor factfile
Mr Sacerdoti argued given the king was likely to delay making “firm decisions and moves relating to titles and generally to ongoing relations with the couple and their children” until the Netflix show had been aired and Harry’s book published – possibly later this year, possibly early next.
He explained: ”I think the point is that private conversations have been reported by Meghan and Harry several times in ways that have been really unfavourable to the Royal Family.
“And I think that they therefore wonder what they can say even in private to Meghan and Harry, and that’s very sad on a personal level. So if there was a rift that a father and son would want to heal, I think it’s sad that they can’t do that because there is a concern about what will be reported outside.
“For example, after the Oprah interview, Gayle King said it wasn’t about the Queen, the racist comment allegation. And then there was similarly a report that the brothers had spoken but that at the moment, progress wasn’t being made.”
Mr Sacerdoti added: “Those sorts of reports of what must be very private moments make it very difficult for them to have private conversations and resolve their differences because in sort of intra-family negotiations, it just can’t work if bits are reported to the press by one side or the other.
Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, pictured in 2019
“And I think that the Royal Family’s been through that before we saw that with the Charles and Diana situation, that there were allegations on both sides, that the other side was leaking things to the press, in order to sort of play it out in public.”
The Royal Family would be very concerned at the prospect of something similar happening between Harry and brother Prince William, or Harry and King Charles III himself, Mr Sacerdoti emphasised.
He said: “So I think it would be totally understandable if the king decides to wait until those major unknowns have become more known, when the book and the Netflix production are out and then he can decide what to do and in light of that. If they do the right thing by him in those, he may well be much more favourable towards them in the future.”
During her Oprah interview, Meghan said: “I just didn’t see a solution. I would sit up at night, and I was just, like, I don’t understand how all of these attacks in the press are churned out.”
When she asked a senior royal about seeking mental health care, she was advised against it would be bad “for the institution”, she added.
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Meghan admitted she had “ashamed” to admit how she was feeling to her husband, adding “I know how much loss he’s suffered. But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. And I – I just didn’t – I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Harry added: “Enjoying the life because there were photographs of me smiling while I was shaking hands and meeting people?
“That’s – that’s a part of the job. That’s a part of the role. That’s what’s expected. No matter who you are in the family, no matter what’s going on in your personal life, no matter what’s just happened, if the bikes roll up and the car rolls up, you got to get dressed, you got to get in there.
“You wipe your tears away, shake off whatever you’re thinking about, and you got to be on your A game.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the Sussexes via Archewell for comment.