Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary on Friday and their union will need to be as strong as ever as they weather the media storm.
“If you were a PR executive who took on Harry and Meghan a day after they got married, it would be almost difficult to embark on a strategy to remove them from their popularity in the way they have,” royal commentator Duncan Larcombe told Fox News Digital. “It would be hard to have done it deliberately and strategically. Now… the relationship with the British public has disappeared.”
The American actress, who starred in the legal drama “Suits,” became the Duchess of Sussex when she married the British prince on May 19, 2018, at Windsor Castle. It seemed like a real-life fairy tale, and the pair was celebrated as the new, youthful face of the British monarchy as Markle also brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to the royal family.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry looking at each other on their wedding day
Meghan Markle, an American actress, became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Britain’s Prince Harry on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
However, those dreams quickly crumbled when the couple made their royal exit in 2020. At the time, they alleged that palace officials were insensitive to Markle’s mental health struggles as she attempted to navigate royal life. The couple also claimed that the duchess, 41, faced racist attitudes from the U.K. press, which contributed to their decision to leave the country.
But life for the couple hasn’t been a happily-ever-after. Most recently, reps for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were pursued by photographers in a “near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi.” The incident occurred Tuesday night after the duchess was honored at the Women of Vision Awards in New York City.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” the couple’s spokesperson said. “While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams criticized the “reckless and irresponsible” incident during a press conference, but also said he found it “hard to believe” a “two-hour, high-speed chase” happened in the densely-populated city wrought with traffic, pedestrians and ongoing construction projects.
Meghan Markle wearing a gold dress arriving to the Women of Vision awards
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at the Woman of Vision Awards on May 16, 2023, in New York City.
It is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga that surrounds the couple.
Since moving to North America, the duke and duchess have repeatedly condemned ruthless tabloids as well as the constraints associated with royal life. They gave a televised interview to Oprah Winfrey in 2021 that was viewed by nearly 50 million people globally. A six-part Netflix docuseries titled “Harry & Meghan,” in which they slammed the intrusive British press, was launched in December 2022, followed by Harry’s explosive memoir, “Spare,” which was published in January.
Harry’s relationship with his family has been increasingly strained following their televised sit-downs, to the point that he was not even seen speaking with his brother Prince William during the king’s coronation earlier this month.
Larcombe said the couple’s popularity took a drastic turn with the public in the U.K. as well, following their sit-down with Winfrey. It has only deteriorated with time.
Prince Harry in a grey suit and white shirt sits next to wife Meghan Markle in a blue dress with light blue detail, across from the back of Oprah Winfrey doing an interview
In an interview given to Oprah Winfrey in 2021, Meghan Markle alleged that remarks about son Archie’s skin color were made by the inner circle of the royal family.
“That was a game changer,” he explained. “Because the accusation … [of] racism within the ranks of the royal family went down very badly here in the U.K. A lot of what they said turned out to be inaccurate. So much so that the queen released a statement saying recollections may vary.”
Harry later revealed on “60 Minutes” that their claims about comments made within the palace about “how dark” his son, Prince Archie, might be, have been misinterpreted.
“The key word here was ‘concern,’ as opposed to ‘curiosity,'” said the 38-year-old. “But the way that the British press, what they turned it into, was not … what it was.”
Prince Harry sat down for a “60 Minutes” interview that coincided with the publication of his memoir.
Larcombe alleged that the couple’s so-called “truth bombs” about the monarchy were viewed as “a betrayal” within the U.K. He said that while the public expected them to have “a quieter life” away from the limelight, they went on “to sign lucrative deals with the likes of Netflix, Spotify and Random House.”
“That was widely interpreted in the U.K. as selling the family secrets – talking about the royal family in exchange for enormous amounts of money,” he said. “So, that’s where their popularity, I think, started to plummet.”
“The damage was done,” he added.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry being escorted by security
The royal couple set off alarms when their spokesperson said Wednesday that they had been dangerously pursued by paparazzi in a “near catastrophic car chase” through the streets of Manhattan.
The couple was left shaken by Tuesday’s paparazzi pursuit, which likely fueled Harry’s fury against the media. It also would have likely conjured up painful memories of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in 1997 while being chased by photographers, which resulted in a fatal car crash in Paris. Harry was 12 at the time.
“My mother was chased to her death,” Harry said in the mental health docuseries “The Me You Can’t See,” discussing his fears about Markle being hounded by the media. “And now look what’s happened. You want to talk about history repeating itself? They’re not going to stop until she dies.”
Meghan Markle looking up at Prince Harry during a step and repeat
While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in New York City for the Women of Vision Awards, the couple lives in Montecito, California, with their son, Prince Archie, and their daughter, Princess Lilibet.
The NYPD, which assisted the couple with transportation Tuesday night, shared its account with Fox News Digital.
“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” Julian Phillips, deputy commissioner of public information, said in a statement.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard,” Phillips stated.
The cab driver who drove the couple from the police station said he instantly recognized his passengers and that paparazzi “were following us the whole time,” though he said wouldn’t call it a chase, the Associated Press reported.
“They had this look on their faces,” said the driver, Sukhcharn Singh. “All of a sudden, paparazzi came out and started taking pictures.”
Meanwhile, police in California were called this week about an episode near the couple’s property in Montecito. A man was arrested shortly after 2 a.m. Monday on suspicion of prowling near the property, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the man actually entered the property. He was released on $2,500 bail after the misdemeanor arrest.
PRINCE HARRY, MEGHAN MARKLE CHASE: NYPD REPORT MAY CONTRADICT CLAIMS OF ‘NEAR-CATASTROPHIC’ INCIDENT
Meghan Markle cries in a couch and puts her hands to her eyes as Prince Harry looks at her with worry
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex detailed their struggles with royal life in the six-part Netflix docuseries “Harry & Meghan.”
British royal expert Hilary Fordwich told Fox News Digital that as the dust settles, the couple would benefit from keeping a low profile as they focus on their family in California.
“Once things die down, no more docuseries, no more interviews, no more books,” she said. “They could then quietly serve… the commonwealth as we all hoped they would.”
“Objectively speaking, Harry and Meghan have cashed in – to the tune of tens of millions of dollars – just by telling their side of the story, and they have cried or laughed all the way to the bank,” Doug Eldridge, founder of Achilles PR, told Fox News Digital.
Prince Harrys book Spare on display at a store
Prince Harry’s memoir, “Spare,” was published in January.
“The question is what comes next,” he said. “Ultimately, Harry and Meghan have the resources and name recognition to pursue whichever path they choose. That said, if you’re looking to have an impact and build a legacy, I would recommend philanthropy.”
“Harry’s late mother, Diana, was truly beloved – not just for her effortless role as the ‘People’s Princess’ but for her tireless work across Africa,” he continued. “Harry and Meghan could build on Diana’s work and, in so doing, build something for themselves: a reputational house that no manner of huffing and puffing from the big bad critics will ever be blown down. You simply can’t fake authenticity.”
Shannon Felton Spence, former head of communications and politics at the British Consulate in Boston, told Fox News Digital the couple’s woes have overshadowed their life’s work as independent royals in California. Now is the time, she said, to refocus and revamp their image.
Meghan Markle in a white dress and Prince Harry in a suit waving from their car
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seen waving as they leave Windsor Castle after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
“I have had clients that express interest in booking Harry or Meghan, and it’s like, on what topic?” she said. “Mental health? Veterans issues? Privacy and anti-bullying? Podcasting? They aren’t well-known enough in their philanthropic life to have that many verticals. They need to focus on their aim. Their focus so far has been commercial.”
“I do think COVID really hurt their launching pad,” she said. “They left the royal family in January 2020. They had the Invictus Games lined up for May 2020, which would have been the perfect launch into their new life. Obviously, that’s totally out of their control. So, that wasn’t ideal. They had planned for a timeline of only five months before reintroducing themselves on a big glitzy platform with a brand that the public already [knew] and respected in association with him.”
“We’re three and half years out now from their exit, and there is no strategy on how to move them into the next phase of their life and mission,” she added.
a close-up of Prince Harry in a blue suit and tie with meghan markle wearing a white coat
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
This week’s award presentation was Markle’s first public appearance since she skipped the coronation of her father-in-law, King Charles III, this month to stay at home in California for her son’s fourth birthday. Harry attended the coronation.
The gala kicked off the Ms. Foundation’s largest fundraising campaign ever – $100 million over the next 12 months – that will be used to further the organization’s equity-centered initiatives and its mission of advancing women’s collective power.
With her mother, Doria Ragland, in the audience, Markle recounted how Ms. Magazine was always in their house and how it affected her worldview.
Meghan Markle in a gold dress speaking in front of a podium
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, speaks onstage with Gloria Steinem and Teresa Younger during the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards at Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 16, 2023, in New York City.
“It allowed me to recognize that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard, to stand up to injustice and to not be afraid of saying what is true and what is just and what is right,” she said.