A poll released this week painted a very startling picture of Americans’ ‘side’ in the post-Megxit royal family feud.
Written on the Statue of Liberty is a poem by Emma Lazare comprising the famous lines: “Give me your tired, your poor, your crowded masses who yearn to breathe freely.” “
Like centuries of European migrants arriving in the New World to build a new life for themselves, 18 months ago Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, settled on American shores after exiling from the Kingdom -United.
Of course, they might not have been poor, but they were very clearly tired and clearly yearning to break free from the royal yoke.
Their arrival in California (via private jet, natch) seemed to contain the first thrilling bars of their own American dream. As they landed in Los Angeles, they seemed carried on a tidal wave of promises: of agreement, attention and critical praise for having had the courage to walk away from the British Royal Family to go for it. alone.
As the first senior HRHs to ever leave the Golden Concert, they looked set to take on a second act like the world had never seen before.
Well, that didn’t quite work, did it?
Today, the picture for the couple is much less rosy.
A survey published by the Telegraph this week revealed the very surprising way Americans view the renegade duo, with the Queen, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge all enjoying higher approval ratings.
Instead of converting them en bloc to their cause, the couple would occupy a much more ambiguous position in the American cultural landscape, it seems.
YouGov found that 63 percent of those polled in the United States viewed Kate very or somewhat favorably, as opposed to Meghan, who claimed only 57 percent on the same front. Meanwhile, Prince William is up 66%, overtaking Harry by 62%.
Eh. Color me shocked because, if you remember those first few months after the Megxit (yes I know it’s like it was about three lifetimes ago) the first signs pointed to a transatlantic split of opinion very clear.
The British were wronged that Harry and Meghan appeared to catch the Queen off guard (a charge they denied) and run away when they didn’t get exactly the new terms they wanted. Americans, meanwhile, were ready to welcome them with open arms and baskets of gluten-free muffins, reveling in their nerve.
As a nation, the United States seemed eager to claim Harry and Meghan as their own doooooke and duchess.
What’s so striking about these YouGov numbers is that the Sussexes’ outspoken ‘go fast and bust things’ approach to their post-palace careers hasn’t translated into massive support for the duo at United States.
This should be of concern, given that popularity is the currency upon which very lucrative business relationships are built.
Of course, over the past year or so, they’ve signed some high-profile deals with Netflix, Spotify, and Penguin Random House, and Harry has taken on a job at the beloved Silicon Valley mentoring and mental health firm BetterUp as that responsible for the impact (no, I have no idea what that actually means either).
But other than the one-time 33-minute podcast the couple released in December, they have yet to release or publicly unveil a single work that confirms they’re worth the eight- or nine-figure sums.
Harry and Meghan’s American identities were built in opposition to their former royal selves. They are empathetic leaders who relentlessly focus on compassion and running their “impact-driven nonprofit” with the unspoken implication that all of these qualities were lacking in the royal approach.
(â€œWe believe compassion is the defining cultural force of the 21st century,â€ they write on their Archewell Foundation website, which looks like a line they borrowed from an Instagram quote by Brene Brown.)
Finally, they can now be authentic themselves.
The problem is, their authentic selves are not the slam dunk that many thought they would be.
So, will this have a ripple effect on their ability to attract checkbooks from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street? Even the former official representatives of the Queen are sensitive to winds of fortune.
The reverse of this poll data is also fascinating: the bricks and the volley of accusations they have leveled against the Windsor house – of institutional racism, cruelty and not teaching Meghan to bow – n have not turned the 50 states together against the monarchy.
The Queen still enjoys 68% very good health in terms of respondents who rate her “very or somewhat favorably,” which would be surprising at any time given that Americans waged a long and bloody war to free themselves from King George III.
But for it to still attract more than two-thirds of people’s support six months after Harry and Meghan spend two prime-time hours painting a picture of the royal family and the royal institution as essentially callous and unresponsive? Now that’s a real twist for the books.
Likewise William and Kate. Harry told Oprah that his brother was “trapped” and that during this time, “We went through hell togetherâ€¦ we are on different paths.”
Meghan, meanwhile, decided to use their interview, which was seen by 50 million people around the world, to tell the world that it was her sister-in-law who made her cry before their wedding, and not the reverse as it had been widely reported at the end of 2018.
(Somewhat illogically, Meghan also said she was not revealing this “to be derogatory to anyone” and “would never have wanted it to come out on her own, even if it had happened”) .
It would have seemed safe enough to assume that the Cambridges were ready for a precipitous decline in popularity in the United States. She doesn’t, and instead Kate has a six-point lead over the old one. Suit star and one point ahead of his brother-in-law.
For the vanilla couple in the middle of the road to beat the Sussexes on their own home ground has to be a bitter pill to swallow.
These poll numbers come after their joint appearance on the cover of Time’s 100 Most Influential People issue earlier this month, with the heavily photoshopped (and botched) image being resoundingly mocked. Memes describing them as a hairstylist and a client or Los Angeles realtors abounded.
The world had a good laugh as Harry and Meghan continued to fight valiantly to squeeze in the global humanitarian elite. (You are no one until you are in the same WhatsApp chat group as Bono, George Soros, and Melinda Gates).
On Saturday night, they will embark on their first â€œpublicâ€ outing since forming themselves as Breakaway State of Sussex, appearing at the annual Global Citizen Live concert in New York City.
The press release that broke the news promised that they would “continue their urgent work with world leaders in the pursuit of global vaccine equity to end the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Their “urgent work”? Of course, in May they co-chaired the Global Citizen’s Vax Live: the concert to bring the world together event in Los Angeles, but they hardly personally roam the Hindu Kush to deliver valuable vaccines. Bringing Jennifer Lopez on board to go wild Let’s make some noise is not the same as finding practical solutions to the growing Covid nightmare in Djibouti
No details were provided on the â€œworld leadersâ€ with whom they might have merged on this front.
Clearly, vaccine equity is one of the most pressing and critical issues of the day (at the current rate, it will take 57 years for low income countries to fully immunize their populations) but the catch here is not the Sussexes’ work in this area, but that there is so much PR haymaking around it all. Or to put it another way, it all often sounds like sound and fury that means nothing but more glowing press releases.
So far, this strategy, if these pesky poll numbers are any indication, doesn’t seem to sway new followers on their side.
This weekend marks the start of a new chapter for the Sussexes and will mark the couple’s return to work after their parental leave following the birth of their daughter Lilibet Diana in June. This, coupled with the fact that the United States is on the whole again open for business, means the pressure is now on them to translate their rhetoric into concrete action and tangible results.
As many generals might have told the couple, often the real battle is not to win the war, but to win the peace. And so far? The Windsor house makes them lick them.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of major Australian media titles.