The Royals' Biggest Fear After Harry & Meghan's New York Trip, Sources Say
"There is nothing anyone else in the Palace can do about that. It's a worrisome sign," an insider said.
While Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex were not on an official royal tour during their recent whirlwind visit to New York City, their schedule certainly made it seem like they were. When the couple arrived in Manhattan on Thursday, they were whisked away by a multi-car security detail to Princess Diana's favorite hotel in the city, The Carlyle, where the royal suite (which the princess often stayed in) goes for more that $8,000 per night.
On Thursday, they first met with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (accompanied by his wife, Chirlane McCray and their son, Dante de Blasio) who were on hand to greet them when they arrived at the site of the World Trade Center to visit the 9/11 memorial. One media source who was there told Best Life, "They were definitely treated like foreign dignitaries. There was a lot of security around them, the press was kept away at a distance and the mayor and the governor were there. That doesn't happen when Hollywood celebrities visit. It definitely felt like an official visit of some kind."
Later that day, the couple met with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, for what the deputy secretary-general of the U.N. described on Twitter as a conversation about "climate action, women's economic empowerment, mental well-being, youth engagement and vaccine equity." During that visit, Harry and Meghan also met with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO). The duke and duchess released a statement, saying that they partnered with WHO to engage "the world's foremost leaders on public health" in a discussion about vaccine equity as well as "public health, pandemic preparedness, scientific progress, and community building."
On Friday, Harry and Meghan visited the Harlem public school P.S. 123 Mahalia Jackson, where Meghan read her children's book The Bench to a group of students, while Harry sat on the ground with them. Afterwards, they stopped in for a bite at Melba's, a famed Harlem eatery, which later announced the couple donated $25,000 to the restaurant to help them recover from the financial losses they suffered during the pandemic. For their final appearance on Saturday night, Harry and Meghan joined a host of celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez and Billie Eilish, at the Global Citizen 24-hour concert in Central Park where they revved up the crowd and called for coronavirus vaccines to be more readily available to people in developing countries.
After their jam-packed visit ended with the couple departing on a private jet for California on Saturday, Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt, a regular commentator on the British royals, observed: "The three-day trip was orchestrated to mimic a royal tour." And that's exactly what makes the Royal Family nervous. Read on to find out what they fear most after Harry and Meghan's trip to New York and why insiders say their visit revealed a plan that could seriously affect the Palace.
The Royal Family fears that Harry and Meghan are developing "a rival court" that the Palace "cannot control," an insider says.
In Feb. 2020, after Harry and Meghan's announcement that they were stepping away from their royal roles and would no longer live in England, a Palace insider told Best Life: "Harry and Meghan will be going off doing all kinds of appearances with absolutely no regard to how it affects the rest of the Royal Family. Their global celebrity is going to pose a huge problem for the Palace when they need the attention in the U.K. to focus on the works of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and, of course, Prince Charles." The prescient source added: "This is going to be a huge problem from now on."
Today, that same royal source said the New York trip seemed to prove that that's exactly what's happened. "Harry and Meghan most definitely seem set to have their own rival court. … The Queen does not appear to want to go to war with her grandson over anything he chooses to do and there is nothing anyone else in the Palace can do about that. It's a worrisome sign of things to come," the insider said, noting that a "rival court that the Palace cannot control is what the royals fear the most."
RELATED: This One Royal Will "Never Forgive" Harry and Meghan, Say Insiders.
Harry and Meghan have followed Diana's playbook in becoming international celebrities, a source says.
This past year, the Royal Family was caught off guard and left to play defense after Harry and Meghan made shocking claims and comments about their lives as senior royals in a series of interviews. It quickly became quite clear while the couple had stepped down from their official royal roles, but were not giving up their royal titles. Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were creating their own brand of royalty outside the control of the Palace.
"In Britain, the royals are considered well-dressed and very rich civil servants, whereas in America, the royals are simply huge celebrities who represent a kind of fantasy life," one Palace insider told Best Life, noting the way Princess Diana managed to create the same celebrity. "Diana was treated like a rock star after being cast out of the Royal Family when her divorced was finalized. Any time she made any kind of appearance or speech, she dwarfed anything the royals did. Many of her friends have said she was planning to live in America where she could use her international stardom for the greater good the way she wanted to. Harry and Meghan are obviously following her playbook. The difference is, they are still very much members of the Royal Family."
Another source added: "They couldn't control Diana and it's clear they have no control over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which presents a potentially huge problem for the Palace. The type of international influence Harry and Meghan have only serves to focus on how limited the royals' sphere of influence really is. They cannot go out and advocate for any type of social or political change and that's clearly a disadvantage."
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According to an insider, Harry and Meghan's new initiatives make the royals look "staid," which isn't helping their need to stay relevant to survive.
While Harry and Meghan's popularity has plummeted in the U.K. and British tabloids have amped up their critical editorials, the Sussexes have been embraced by American media and welcomed into Hollywood with open arms. One inside source told Best Life, "They have rightly calculated they would be far more popular outside of the U.K. The British tabloids are of no consequence to them. They have effectively washed their hands of the British media."
But that's a big problem for the royals because the Sussex brand is still covered (largely unfavorably) in the U.K. At the same, in the States, the couple and their PR team carefully manage their media exposure by speaking to handpicked reporters. "The royals are at disadvantage here as they rarely do interviews or directly respond to negative stories about themselves," said one royal source. "So, the Sussexes' messages and activities dominate royal coverage a lot of the time and have somewhat minimized the impact of positive stories about William and Kate. They look staid and not nearly as exciting in comparison to Harry and Meghan."
That's a major disadvantage that isn't helping the Royal Family's need to remain relevant in order to survive.
Harry and Meghan's Hollywood friends are "the perfect court for their life in California," a source says.
Harry and Meghan have widespread support from entertainment industry A-listers, and some of those celebrities have even helped defray the stratospheric costs associated with their life. "When they first moved to California, they were the guests of Tyler Perry, who loaned them the use of one of his mansions, which gave them time to decide where and how they wanted to live," said one insider. "Harry had been talking with Oprah Winfrey about doing a series on mental health even before they announced they were leaving Britain. She helped them tremendously from the very beginning," said another source.
Recently, The Daily Mail reported Taylor Swift may have loaned Harry and Meghan her bodyguards to act as the couple's security during their New York trip. "Whatever the case, Harry and Meghan's Hollywood friends form the perfect 'court' for their new life in California," said the royal insider. "Call it a support system or a rival court, either way, it's a very powerful network they are using to its best advantage."
RELATED: A New Narrative About Harry & Meghan's Royal Exit Is Now Emerging, Insiders Say.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.