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Harry and Meghan's "Rival Court" Will Be a "PR Nightmare," Says Insider

"A future of two rival courts competing for media attention ... is going to be a huge problem."

It will hardly be a happy reunion for the former "Fab Four" in March as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle make their first joint U.K. appearance since announcing their plans to "step back" from their senior royal roles. For part of their visit, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be on their official tour of Ireland, putting the couples 350 miles apart and causing "a public relations nightmare" for Palace officials who fear "a future of two rival courts competing for media attention," said a royal insider.

On Mar 5, for example, William and Kate will wrap up their three-day royal tour of Ireland where they are scheduled to visit Dublin, County Meath, County Kildare, and Galway to "highlight the many strong links between the U.K. and Ireland," according to Kensington Palace. At the same time, the Sussexes will be attending the Endeavour Fund Awards in London. (Harry and Meghan will be carrying out six engagements in 11 days before the official "Megxit" agreement goes into effect on Apr. 1.)

William and Kate's tour of the Emerald Isle is an important event on the royal calendar, marking the first time any member of the royal family has visited the Republic since Brexit. So it's particularly unfortunate for the Palace that it will clash with the Sussexes' final engagements. The conflicting schedules are a "major issue" for Palace officials who, I'm told, fear that Harry and Meghan's London appearances will overshadow William and Kate's Ireland trip in the media.

"Harry and Meghan take up all the oxygen and their representatives have been on a serious PR effort to make sure everything they do gets maximum coverage," said one royal insider. "In the case of the Cambridges' trip to Ireland, the importance of the visit is sure to suffer competing with the Sussexes' 'farewell tour.'"

My source made clear that it is not William and Kate who are upset about the media attention given to Harry and Meghan. It is Palace officials who fear the media will be focused on the more "made for the tabloids" stories about the Sussexes' final appearances as senior royals. "The Palace had hoped the Ireland tour would get its due in the media, which is extremely unlikely now," my source said.

Of course, this timing may indicate that the estranged princes wanted to make sure they kept their distance, but William and Kate's trip to Ireland is at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and had been decided long before the Sussexes chose to step down.

Still, "this is going to be a huge problem from now on," said my insider. "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."

Royal watchers will, however, be able to see Harry, Meghan, William, and Kate together at the Commonwealth Day service on Mar. 9, which the most senior members of the royal family attend together. Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will also be at the service with Queen Elizabeth. As I reported earlier this week, the Queen has urged the royal family to "put on a good show" of solidarity.

My sources have told me that William and Kate have "grown weary" over the non-stop coverage about the status of the brothers' relationship and Harry and Meghan's new life, and they will be "relieved when this chapter is finally over."

The insider explained, "Harry and Meghan's decision to seek a supposedly quieter life out of the spotlight has had the exact opposite effect and in doing so, has resulted in even more media scrutiny for everyone. William shares many of Harry's feelings about the media, but he isn't afforded the same freedom that Harry has to do as he pleases and complain about it. Both of them suffered terribly as a result of Diana's death. Sometimes it appears as if Harry, of all people, has forgotten that. There are many people who simply can't believe it's all come to this and just want to move on from the drama."

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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