MEGHAN Markle and Prince Harry have jointly been accused of stealing the Royals' thunder – from the Queen to Prince William and Kate and Princess Eugenie – on a number of occasions.
Earlier this week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out a series of royal engagements in Wolverhampton to highlight Mental Health Awareness week.
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But as the couple got stuck into some gardening, table tennis and footie at the Way Youth Zone, Dax Shepard dropped his latest episode of his Armchair Expert podcast featuring special guest Prince Harry.
During the chat, the Duke blasted his father Prince Charles and said he desperately wanted to "break the cycle" of "genetic pain and suffering" cause by his upbringing.
What's more, the Prince revealed that he had one his first dates with Meghan Markle in a London supermarket and feels "free" since his move to LA last year.
Speaking to The Times, a royal source said the Royal Family weren't in the least surprised by the timing of Harry's latest bombshells.
The insider claimed: "It was such a lovely day for the Cambridges. It is a shame that it got usurped by what Harry had to say.
"Nobody is shocked any more. It is more: ‘Here we go again.’
"But he should be told that these grievances should be aired in the privacy of your own home. Don’t do it publicly in a podcast. Get on with your life.”
But this isn't the first time the couple have been accused of "upstaging" their family across the pond.
Poor Princess Eugenie. Sure, she’s got an adoring, perpetually ruddy-faced husband who looks like he’s head-over-heels in love with her (and just happens to be a tequila ambassador – handy) and an adorable new baby, having introduced son August to the world in February.
But jeepers, the 31-year-old just can’t quite catch a break.
On 23 March, she celebrated her birthday, a fact Buckingham Palace marked by sharing social media posts that went so far as to include not one but two emojis, the Windsor-equivalent to shouting with glee from the rooftops.
However, whatever brief moment basking in the public sun Eugenie might have had, was dashed given the very same day The Wall Street Journal revealed her cousin Prince Harry had gone out and done the previously unthinkable: He’d gotten a job.
We could notch this all up to an unfortunate coincidence if not for the fact this is not the first time that a Sussex announcement has inadvertently stolen some of the poor old Eugenie’s thunder.
It has been reported that Harry and his wife Meghan the Duchess of Sussex told his family that she was expecting their first child at Eugenie’s 2018 wedding. The move, “did not go down particularly well with Eugenie, who a source said told friends she felt the couple should have waited to share the news,” according to last year’s biography of the Sussexes, Finding Freedom. Quite.
However, these incidents are not outliers or isolated quirks of fact. In fact, delve a little further and an interesting pattern emerges. Take May 19, 2019 when the Sussexes’ released previously unseen images of their wedding in the early hours of the morning to mark their first anniversary. Kensington Palace chose the same day to reveal that Kate was designing a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show and to debut a number of images of the royal.
Or, January 8 (January 9 in Australia) last year, the day the couple dropped their Megxit bombshell which just happened to be the day before Kate Duchess of Cambridge’s 38th birthday (January 9). (To be fair, there have been reports that the couple hit ‘send’ on their devastating, Instagram resignation letter because they were worried about the press getting wind of their plans.)
Then there’s January 14 when Meghan stepped out of the couple’s then Vancouver Island home, a borrowed $20 million monstrosity of stone and bad taste, to board a sea plane to the mainland where she spent time at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center in Vancouver.
The images ended up on social media, which just happened to be the day before William and Kate’s first engagement of the year thus, coincidentally perhaps, siphoning off some of the press interest.
Next, April 5, when the Queen delivered her historic pandemic address telling Britons, “we’ll meet again.” On April 6 Harry and Meghan revealed their plan for a not-for-profit called Archewell in an interview with the Telegraph.
Come June 21, William celebrated his 38th birthday. Two days later, Harry and Meghan visited an LA bakery for ex-gang members, the day after which pictures of the couple’s visit hit social media.
On August 4 Kate launched a babybank initiative and on August 5 she and William visited Wales with the entire royal press pack in tow for each. On the August 6, Fast Company published a piece by Harry about the evils of social media.
In December, William and Kate stepped out with their three kids to attend a pantomime performance for key workers and their families on the 11th, the first time Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis had ever walked a red carpet. On December 15, Harry and Meghan announced they had signed a deal with Spotify.
Even this month, their Oprah interview was scheduled to be broadcast on March 8, the day before Commonwealth Day, always a red letter event on Her Majesty’s calendar. This year, given the pandemic, the Queen delivered a TV address instead that ended up airing only hours before the Sussexes’ Oprah outpouring hit screens in the US.
What are we to make of all these bursts of near simultaneous activity?
Is this all a matter of coincidence? After all, these are all busy people who are constantly out and about doing things. Clashing schedules will inevitably happen. Factor in too, the Sussexes do not necessarily have control over when media outlets publish things or social media images get shared.
Or, is there something more calculated going on here? If the now California-based couple wanted to keep the spotlight resolutely on them, thus trouncing their former palace compatriots, this would be a stellar strategy.
No matter the why or how here, the consequences of the royal family and the Sussexes’ collectively having the bad habit of making news nearly concurrently, and thus cannibalising one another’s thunder, is dire.
The currency the Windsors and the Sussexes both traffic in and need when it comes to their do-goodery is media coverage and social media attention. In an ideal world, various HRHs would pop out, and say, cheerfully open a lighthouse in Wales (Princess Anne) or visit a charity that gives underprivileged kids crystals (Harry) on totally different days, thus ensuring maximum exposure for each engagement and thus maximum charitable impact.
However, even when the Sussexes were still part of the royal fold, this sort of inter-court co-ordination proved difficult. (And to be clear, this is something that Clarence House, Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace all regularly fail at too.)
Given the trans-Atlantic rupture between the Sussexes and the royal house, the prospect of them all chummily comparing diaries is about as likely as Anne taking up pole dancing. (I bet her legendary backcombed bouffant would not move a millimetre as she mastered the back ankle grip.)
The problem here, if you happen to be a Buckingham Palace courtier, is that sending one of your earnest HRHs off on some dull-as-dishwater outing (can’t regional leisure centres open themselves for god’s sake?) is always going to come a distant second in terms of public and press interest if the dazzling Sussexes happen to be up to something far, far more interesting around the same time.
(And let’s be honest: You’re never going to catch Harry or Meghan happily undertaking ribbon-cutting duties on some suburban waste recycling plant.)
This is a problem that is only going to become more pressing in the future.
As the world slowly re-emerges after the pandemic both the Sussexes and the remaining working members of the royal family will all be hitting the philanthropic hustings, making up for charitable lost time.
Zoom is great and all – and even the Queen has become a dab hand at conducting engagements remotely, never once accidentally muting herself as her new corgi puppies play at her feet (I’m guessing) – but nothing beats the opportunity to gladhand the public and charm a swarm of photographers.
This weekend, spare a thought for The Firm’s courtiers: In the months and years their job is about to get a lot trickier, that is, unless they can get Anne anywhere near a pole.
So what happens when a swarm of members of the royal family are unleashed synchronously on two continents? More inadvertent clashes of this nature seem near-guaranteed.
This article was first published in news.com.au and has been republished with permission.
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