Here's Why Palace Insiders Are Fuming About Meghan's New York Baby Shower
"It's a complete embarrassment."
Meghan Markle's whirlwind five-day visit to New York City this week, with a reported price tag of nearly $500,000—which culminated in Wednesday's lavish baby shower—has caused a media firestorm in Britain and has royal insiders and critics alike asking why Prince Harry doesn't see how this extravagance is damaging to the monarchy.
Meghan's baby shower planned by her sometimes stylist and BFF Jessica Mulroney, Amal Clooney, and Serena Williams and celebrated with a small circle of friends including Oprah's BFF, Gayle King, who talked about the "private" event on national television the next day. The A-list celebration made headlines on both sides of the pond. The New York Post proclaimed "Preg Meg Is Toast of NYC," while the Daily Mail trumpeted that Markle was staying in "the country's most expensive hotel room" for her first trip to New York since her wedding to Prince Harry.
The seven-months pregnant duchess, who stayed for at least part of her trip at The Mark Hotel, the swanky destination on Manhattan's Upper East Side, drew hordes of photographers and stopped traffic in Manhattan as she made her way around the city this week, with stops at Ralph Lauren's Polo Bar for dinner (with tennis legend Williams) and took in a private tour of the Met Breuer (with her former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer).
When it was learned that the Duchess of Sussex had flown to America on a private plane and returned on a jet owned by George Clooney's production company—and accompanied by his wife, Amal, and their twins—the British media quickly started doing the math. (The cost for Meghan's round-trip flight was a reported $250,000). The eye-watering total cost of Meghan's visit across the pond has brought out critics from all corners including Meghan's one-time pal Piers Morgan, who warned that the Duchess of Sussex could be seen as something of a "Marie Antoinette" for being at the center of such extravagance.
On Friday, environmentalists joined the critics pointing out that while Harry campaigns for more sound environmental practices and has spoken in favor reducing the planet's carbon footprint, his wife chose to fly round-trip on a private plane rather than opt for one of the many commercial flights between the United States and the United Kingdom. According to the Daily Mail, one critic tweeted, "'Meghan & Harry are being billed as Humanitarians. They are Patrons of charities for the disadvantaged. The obscene cost of this 5 day trip is utter hypocrisy. Not to mention the carbon footprint of taking a private jet.'"
"This is a complete embarrassment," one royal insider told me. "While Harry is out there telling people we need to save the planet for the next generation, Meghan is living like there's no tomorrow. Harry has to be made to see the larger problem that has arisen out of this."
The Palace insider also said that, at a time when the royals are making a concerted effort to appear more sensitive to public opinion over unnecessary extravagance, the Duchess "participating in such a display was ill-advised."
While Kensington Palace has declined to comment on the criticism, according to my sources, that doesn't mean it has not be the subject of a great deal of conversation since the cost of the event became front page news all over Britain.
When the news of Meghan's baby shower began showing up in the media on Tuesday, there were grumblings at the Palace that all the fuss surrounding the fashionable fête "was all a bit too much" and "not becoming of a royal." Unconfirmed reports that Williams allegedly picked up the steep tab for the shower, including a two-night stay in The Mark's the penthouse suite at $150,000, "has really raised quite a few eyebrows," and left other members of the royal household wondering, "Was all that really necessary?"
In fairness, baby showers for mothers-to-be are a rite of passage for American women. But now that Meghan (excuse us, the Duchess of Sussex) is a member of the British royal family, it was assumed she'd forego having one—or that, if she did, it would fly under the radar, like her wedding shower (or "Hen Party" as the Brits say), which was a quiet affair held away from the glare of the paparazzi in the countryside at the Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.
"The Queen is, in all likelihood, not happy at the attention this has brought on the family," said my source. "She has given the Duchess more freedom since welcoming into the family, but this may very well be the line in the sand."
The biggest issue, said the insider, is getting Harry to see that his words are often conflicted by his wife's actions. "Prince Harry complains about media harassment, while his wife seems to not only encourage the attention but clearly loves it as well," sniffed my source. "It seems quite odd to have the party in New York when so many of her friends and her mother live in Los Angeles. There are several people here who feel it was clearly a bid for attention and to remind people she is a celebrity in her own right. This sort of thing just isn't done."
While in New York, Meghan clearly seemed more like a Hollywood star than a royal. The duchess wore all black and sported dark sunglasses, and was trailed by Spencer, as the two left The Mark on Tuesday surrounded by a phalanx of royal protection officers in addition to hotel security and officers from the State Department. Oh, and they were en route to lunch at the pricey Cafe Boulud at The Surrey Hotel. "The whole thing is a complete departure from how the royals behave in public," said the insider. "It is behavior more befitting a film star than a duchess."
But there is little chance that Meghan plans to change how she is redefining what it means to be royal. "Harry has given her a wide berth and wants to make his wife happy, particularly during her pregnancy," my source told me. "He won't see anything wrong with this, and therein lies the problem." And for more on royal visits to the Big Apple, check these 6 Things Princess Diana Always Did When Visiting New York City.
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