This One Thing Could Cause "Major Conflict" for Harry & Meghan, Say Sources
"It's the true barometer of how far they can really go," one royal insider said.
There is little doubt that going from supporting players in the Royal Family to glittering A-listers in Hollywood has been a major change for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, but have the Sussexes settled on who is the star of their own show? In Jan. 2020, after the couple made the announcement that they were stepping down as senior royals, inside sources told Best Life that Harry and Meghan "may have different expectations" of post-royal life. Royal experts had a wide range of predictions at the time. Biographer Sally Bedell Smith told Vanity Fair that Meghan "really regrets having had to give [her show business career] up" to become a working royal, which "didn't compare" to her life as a television actress. Stephen Bates, author of Royalty Inc: Britain's Best-Known Brand, had dire predictions about Harry's life in Hollywood. He told The Guardian: "I can see a lot of parties with Harry standing in the corner and people saying: 'There's the bloke who used to be in the royal family … All this stuff about huge marketing opportunities, and people talking up 'their brand' and how much it will earn them … Obviously their celebrity will carry them so far—but in a year or two's time, what are they going to do?'"
In the 18 months since Harry and Meghan left Britain, they have seemed perfectly in sync with each other and their goals, but recent events have some insiders speculating there may be some trouble ahead for the couple. Read on to find out the one thing that could take a toll on their relationship.
There has been an unexpected role reversal between Harry and Meghan.
When the Sussexes inked multi-million dollar deals with Netflix and Spotify shortly after moving to California last year, there was a great deal of anticipation about how Meghan and Harry would establish their own brand and who would work with them to make that happen. In March 2021, the Daily Mail reported that some time before the couple's sit down with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan parted ways with her longtime agent Nick Collins of The Gersh Agency. Sources told the outlet the move was because the Netflix and Spotify deals allowed her to hire a new in-house team of advisors. Insiders saw the move as a sign that the former actor, who found fame as an ensemble player on the cable television show Suits, had no plans to return to acting. A "former friend" told the New York Post (via Daily Mirror) that "Meghan has absolutely no interest in acting again."While Meghan has kept a relatively low profile this year as she awaits the birth of the couple's second child, a girl, due any day now, Harry's star wattage has reached stratospheric heights. The prince, who has spent his entire life avoiding the media and largely blames them for his mother's death, has now fully embraced the spotlight. "It is rather surprising to see Harry out there with all these celebrities at events like the VAX Live concert getting a rock star's welcome and giving all these interviews," an insider told Best Life. "He said he was leaving England for more privacy, but he's been in the media more than ever before. He seems to very much enjoy being 'a star.'""There was this assumption that Meghan was going to jump right into the spotlight when they got to California," said another source. "Short of a few solo interviews, her reentry into Hollywood has been relatively low key. Harry, on the other hand, seems like a moth to the flame when it comes to the spotlight. The role reversal surprised many people; it's possible Meghan is one of them."And for more royals news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The initial plan was to let Meghan be the "star" of the Sussex's show.
Last year, shortly after it was announced the Sussexes had purchased a home in Montecito, California, a source told Best Life: "Prince Harry has lived his entire life in front of the cameras and has always hated it. He's in new territory in Los Angeles, so Meghan is really taking the lead right now. Harry has obviously managed to use the media and his worldwide fame to great effect when he is promoting the causes he cares most about, like The Invictus Games and Sentebale, but he is more than happy to cede the spotlight to Meghan."
Meghan's first post-royal television appearance was in April of last year in a pre-recorded interview on Good Morning America to promote the Disney+ documentary Elephant, which she narrated. Two months later, she gave a virtual commencement address to the senior class of her former high school and made headlines when she spoke about murder of George Floyd. That summer, she delivered a virtual speech at the U.N. Foundation's 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit, where other speakers included Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, and she also sat down for a Makers interview with Gloria Steinem.
But this year, it's been "Harry's show," as one insider put it. "Not only has he assumed the higher profile, which could change after the baby is born, but he's done so by telling so much of his personal story," an insider told Best Life. "It's been at the center of everything like the Apple TV+ series."
The source continued, "Perhaps it was planned that way, but it's unlikely that a woman like Meghan who has always sought the spotlight is willing to sit back and just be a supporting player. It could cause some major conflict in their relationship down the road and may already be taking its toll."
Harry is thrilled that he's on his way to becoming a Hollywood star.
Once Meghan and Harry made clear they were willing to spill lots of royal tea in their explosive joint interview with Winfrey, Hollywood came calling. An industry insider, who initially pursued representing the couple when they moved to California last year told Variety in March: "I can only imagine the calls over there Monday morning [after the interviewed aired]." A entertainment media strategist told the outlet that the televised tell-all "was just as much about table-setting as it was about clearing the air."
But plans were in the works far earlier for the Sussexes to gain their "financial independence" via Hollywood. After Winfrey attended the couple's wedding in May 2018, there was rampant speculation about her connection to the couple. Last week, Winfrey revealed she'd been working on the Apple TV+ series with Harry, The Me You Can't See, for two years. "It's a project that we were inspired to produce after we first met, really, and talked about some of the most pressing issues of our time," she said on an episode. "So we spent two years making this series… together."
On May 28, CNN proclaimed "Harry's got a hit on his hands" with The Me You Can't See. The outlet reported the Apple TV+ saw a 25 percent rise in viewers when the five-part docuseries dropped last month. Just days after its premiere, a town hall-style special was announced in which Harry and Winfrey checked in with the people featured on the original series for follow-ups. "It's the first evidence that the prince is worth the hundreds of millions of dollars the major streaming services have invested in Archewell Productions— the unit he set up with wife Meghan," CNN reported.
"The real test for Harry and Meghan will be if they can create successful content for film and television that doesn't include them talking about the royals and has absolutely no connection to the Royal Family," a source told Best Life. "So far, we haven't seen that and it's the true barometer of how far they can really go as producers and whether they want the same thing in their new lives as producers."
Meghan wants to build a global brand, but Harry's impulsivity could get in the way.
Many people who have known Meghan throughout her life have said she is a meticulous planner, so there is little doubt that she would enter post-royal life without specific plans. Harry, on the other hand, wanted to leave the royal fishbowl for years, but only acted upon that after marrying Meghan. The prince's impulsivity may make for high television ratings and sensational headlines, but it isn't necessarily an advantage when it comes to what the Sussexes hope to achieve in Hollywood.
"Harry has been very impulsive in what's he's said and it's not always benefited their long term plans," said one source. "Meghan said her piece on Oprah and has not felt the need to rehash anything since then. Harry obviously has had a long and painful history as a royal, but this non-stop badmouthing the family is no longer helpful. It's turned some people off and Meghan knows that. She wants to support Harry but she doesn't want this to go on any longer. That's a difficult topic to broach as a wife talking to a husband. If it's not settled, there could be problems awaiting them at the next corner."