Megxit has been good for the royal couple... the other couple, that is
The Cambridges are proving to be experts at self-marketing. Sorry about that, Harry
Sat 1 May 2021 18.00 BST
When will William and Kate admit that the Harry and Meghan hoo-ha has been great for them? As the dust storms continue to billow from the Oprah Winfrey interview, presumably the Sussexes are exactly where they want to be, generating big-bucks deals (Netflix/Spotify/“wellness”) from their £11m property in Montecito, Santa Barbara. However, hasn’t it also been rather good for the Cambridges? They appear to have morphed from a rather drab, stiff, prematurely middle-aged couple into a veritable beacon of royal decorum cum quasi-middle-class decency. There’s a palpable feeling that the media/public – leastways, the royalist media/public – is behind them like never before, applauding their every move. Sure, it was always so, but, post-Oprah, there’s been a tangible turbo-boosting of the Cambridges’ profile. Call it what it is: a pushback.
Cue last week’s video celebrating their 10th anniversary. Any other couple forcing others to celebrate their decade-long tru luv would have you demanding a bucket to retch into. The snarky Brit temperament being what it is, some might even ask: “What’s with all the PDA – are you guys getting a divorce?” But this was no public display of affection, it was marketing and the Cambridges are suddenly getting very good at it. Maybe even better than You Know Who.
Devoted smiles. Frolicking children in wellingtons. Marshmallows toasting on an open fire… In one way, it came across like a really weird Shirley Hughes children’s story (“Daddy is cross today because Uncle Harry has behaved badly”). In another, a John Lewis advert selling nothing, though, in truth, the Cambridges were hard-selling themselves.
And why shouldn’t they? This year has been grim. William spoke out against the serious racism claims in the Oprah interview, but the Cambridges suffered other indignities in silence (the story about Catherine making Meghan weep over bridesmaid dresses; the resurrection of “Waity Katie”). Though even at an occasion as sombre as Prince Philip’s funeral, a photo of Catherine peering over her mask had some combusting in excitement over “our future queen!”, while a brief chat with Harry sparked obsequious overdrive about the Cambridges’ innate refinement.
So, yes, it’s been rough but, ultimately, have the Cambridges had a good Megxit? The recurring theme post-Oprah has been worship of the Cambridges (“the future of the monarchy”) even beyond the usual sycophancy. Their popularity hasn’t only gone nuclear, it’s turned binary: choose a side, cheer on your favoured couple as if they were a football team. No more griping from the cheap seats about how Harry would have been a more “fun” king. For their part, the Cambridges appear to be actively colluding, offering themselves up as a fragrant, homegrown alternative to the Sussexes. Would that video have happened in normal times or could it be counted as a royal finger to Harry and Meghan?
So, perhaps Megxit did them a favour – it was the thunderclap that woke them up. Every strong brand needs a rival and the Cambridges appear to have found theirs.