“[The couple’s recent behavior is] a public relations disaster for Buckingham Palace, who are having a hard time reining them in,” said Lady Colin Campbell, the author of several books about the royals.
The Sun reported last week how Meghan told magazine execs that, in a seeming quest for celebrity, she wanted “to break the Internet” when she guest-edited the September issue of British Vogue.
“Meghan is clearly calling the shots, but she’s a minor operator who is playing in the big leagues and mucking it up in the most catastrophic fashion,” Campbell added.
After the couple was criticized for traveling by private jet to Nice and Ibiza, the ecologically minded Harry told a charity audience last week that he opted for the perk to “ensure that my family are safe.”
The tone-deaf comments came days after his brother, Prince William, along with Kate Middleton and their three children, were photographed flying a discount commercial carrier for a holiday in Scotland.
“When royal eco-lecturers preach one thing in public and then do the opposite in private, they shouldn’t be surprised if they are dismissed as eco-hypocrites,” said a source who has worked with the royals.And in what was widely seen as a slight against his brother, Harry was quoted in the September issue of British Vogue — which was guest-edited by Markle — as saying he would have only two children for the sake of the environment.Earlier in the summer, Markle, who has been dubbed “Duchess Difficult” by some members of the British press, was upbraided for refusing to pose for photographs and clearing out 40 seats at Wimbledon so she could watch her friend Serena Williams play tennis in “private” — a privilege that her mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II has never demanded in 66 years on the throne.
“I was stunned by Harry’s stupid comments about only having two kids when his brother has three,” said Duncan Larcombe, former royal editor of The Sun. “And this wasn’t a throwaway line — this was in a copy-approved interview. It’s madness.”
The madness is only expected to intensify as the couple prepares for their first royal tour with their infant son, Archie, to South Africa later this fall.
Indeed, Brits are already upset that Harry and Meghan have shielded their son, born May 6, from the cameras.
Meanwhile, born just a year before Archie, William and Kate’s third child, Louis, has already been in dozens of official and informal photographs.Other than official christening-day portraits, he has been seen swaddled in blankets, held tightly to Markle’s chest or in mere peeks — his toes, a bit of his face — via artsy black-and-white photos posted to the couple’s Sussex Royal Instagram account.
“[Meghan and Harry] won’t allow Archie to be photographed when they land [in South Africa], and the press are starting to gripe,” Larcombe told The Post. “If there was pressure before on the upcoming tour, it’s intensified now. There’s so much riding on it.”
The list of public relations blunders and the couple’s frosty relationship with the British press began after their wedding last year, rising to a fever pitch when they declined to pose for a first family photo, as has been tradition, outside the hospital where Archie was born.
While it may sound reasonable that new parents would want a life out of the spotlight for their child, that’s just not how it’s done in the royal family.
British taxpayers cover the lion’s share of Meghan and Harry’s expenses, including a controversial recent $3 million renovation to their Frogmore Cottage home, as well as costs for staff, official travel and more. In exchange, there is an expectation that they will share their life with the public.
“British taxpayers don’t complain if royal people are seen to earn their perks with lives devoted to public service,” said the source who has worked with the royals.
Part of the problem, insiders say, is that Meghan — a strong, independent woman who already had an established acting career by the time she met Harry — is simply now in the wrong job. And being a member of the British royal family is a job.
But Meghan may get her revenge by fleeing. It’s reported that the couple are looking for a home in Malibu, as the former “Suits” actress is homesick for her California roots.
That would put her closer to Sunshine Sachs, the American public relations and crisis-management firm recently hired to work on the Sussex Royal charity, which was created after the couple broke with a foundation that they had started with William and Kate. (Other Sunshine Sachs clients include Leonardo diCaprio, Ben Affleck and the Clintons.) Markle’s pal Keleigh Thomas Morgan is an executive in the firm’s Los Angeles office, and The Post has been told she will handle the task of promoting the charity.
Barely two months old, Sussex Royal has already lost two of its directors — Natalie Denise Campbell and Sara Latham — public records show, for reasons unknown. (According to the Daily Mail, a royal source claims the women were only given temporary director status.)
Instead, Karen Tracey Blackett, a British entrepreneur and chair of Mediacom, the largest media company in the United Kingdom, was appointed as a trustee to the charity, which is helmed by Gerrard Tyrrell, one of the most powerful libel and defamation lawyers in London.
“Why do you need a defamation expert on a charity’s board?” asked Campbell, whose book “People of Color and the Royals,” which is partly about Markle, is out Oct. 28. “The whole thing is farcical and impertinent. Their crisis management is best handled by someone who understands the royal system, and not by Americans.”
In Sunshine Sachs’ first event for the charity, Morgan helped launch Travalyst, a sustainable-tourism initiative that Harry just announced in Amsterdam.
“We cannot dismiss the idea of doing something just because we cannot do everything,” Harry said at the launch “We can all do better, and while no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact.”
The debut of the program, dedicated to protecting the environment and helping local communities, came on the heels of the summer’s air-travel controversy.
In addition to taking four private jets in 11 days during an August vacation — Elton John, who hosted the royals, said he provided his own plane to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection” for the family — Harry was among a group of celebrities and billionaires who traveled to Italy by private jet and helicopter for an environmental conference sponsored by Google in July.
For Campbell, the couple is acting too much like their A-list pals Oprah Winfrey and George and Amal Clooney rather than public servants.
“Their message should be, ‘Look how fortunate we are to embody the hopes and aspirations of the nation,’ ” Campbell said. “Instead, they are acting like the emperor and empress of America, saying they are far too grand to travel commercial.”
Princess Diana’s former private secretary, Patrick Jephson, agreed.
“Do they want to be American celebrities, or hardworking members of the British royal family?” he told The Post. “If they want to be royal, their duty is first to support the monarch and second to promote national unity. Nothing else is required of them.”
According to Campbell, Markle does not seem to fully understand her role as a public servant.
“It’s about service, not about telling people how wonderful you are,” she said. “I have yet to speak to a member of the British working class or middle class who is in favor of Meghan’s conduct.”
A poll published by YouGov in August found Queen Elizabeth is the favorite royal, while Meghan is ranked sixth, and her popularity has dropped 6 percentage points from the previous year.
When the Markle-edited September issue of British Vogue hit stands, the British press went into a tizzy, criticizing her for acting like a celebrity and also for name-dropping.
“Over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she would help me with this secret project,” she wrote in the introduction for a Q&A with Michelle Obama.
It didn’t help that Markle said she declined to personally appear on the cover, according to British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, because it would be too “boastful” — when her sister-in-law, Kate, has been on the cover before.
“When someone faces unfair criticism, you call it out,” Mulroney wrote to her 331,000 Instagram followers last week. “When that person is your friend and your family, you call those critics what they are. Shame on you, you racist bullies.”Meanwhile, Meghan’s stylist friend Jessica Mulroney — whose profile has been raised, in part, by the friendship, to the point that she is now a bridal expert for “Good Morning America” — has seemingly defended the royal, who is of mixed-race heritage.
Campbell said that she hopes things can still turn around. “I am hoping that Meghan reins herself in, and learns to tailor her behavior. I want her to be a success.”
And even if Meghan, Harry and Archie do decamp for California, don’t expect it to be full time or permanent. After all, they would have to give up being working royals if they lived abroad full time.
“If they decided to live somewhere else, it would be them quitting their job,” said Larcombe. “Harry is no way ready to do that.”