In these late summer weeks, Meghan Markle was poised to finally establish herself as a global media superstar with the launch of her new podcast, an appearance on Jimmy Fallon, and a splashy magazine profile designed to introduce fans to her fabulous life in Montecito and let everyone know she would no longer be silenced.
But this media blitz, which also included lobbing criticisms at her husband’s family and veiled threats in The Cut profile to dish more dirt on royal life, came to an immediate halt with the news Thursday of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
The Telegraph’s columnist, Bryony Gordon, and others reported that the release of the next episode of Meghan’s Archetypes podcast has been put on hold, possibly for weeks, “as a mark of respect,” as she and Prince Harry enter a period of mourning.
As expected, @Spotify confirm new episodes of Meghan, Duchess of Sussexes’ podcast, Archetypes, are paused during the mourning period for the Queen. pic.twitter.com/FQtsFGYdTm
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) September 12, 2022
Page Six also reported that the Duchess of Sussex has postponed an upcoming appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show. The former TV actress was booked for NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Sept. 20, while she and Prince Harry were in New York City to attend the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly, Page Six reported.
With the queen’s state funeral scheduled for Sept. 19, after a 10-day period of national mourning in the U.K., Meghan has canceled that appearance. Meghan and Harry, who were in London for a charity function when the queen died, are expected to stay over the next week and attend the funeral.
“Meghan was due on Fallon,” a source told Page Six. “I don’t even know what she was going to talk about, but that’s obviously canceled now.”
The delay or cancellation of these media appearances is likely to raise questions about how Meghan will move forward with plans to solidify her brand and embark on what appeared to be a new phase in her career as a public figure.
So far there is no word about whether the release of Harry’s memoir will be delayed past its expected publication date around the holidays, the Telegraph’s Gordon said. There have been concerns that Harry was likely to use the book to air more grievances against family members, possibly against his father, the new King Charles III, his stepmother, the new Queen Camilla, or his brother, William, with whom he long had a close relationship until he married Meghan in 2018 and they acrimoniously departed from royal life.
Gordon and other royal experts expect that the memoir could be delayed, if only so that Harry’s ghost writer can add a new chapter or two about the queen’s death. It also wouldn’t look good for either Meghan or Harry to be seen criticizing the royal family so soon after the queen’s death. The couple have positioned themselves in opposition to the monarchy that Elizabeth II dedicated her life to uphold.
With the queen’s death, Meghan has suddenly lost control over what was supposed to be a triumphant media narrative for herself. In terms of royal-related news, Meghan’s story about about being a powerful, crusading woman in media was overtaken by much bigger headlines about the loss of Harry’s grandmother, one of the most famous, respected and beloved people in the world.
Almost immediately, Meghan found her and Harry subject of some negative headlines, notably that Harry was sidelined in getting to Balmoral Castle, where the queen died, and that Meghan wasn’t welcome to accompany him to Scotland to pay their final respects.
Meghan also wasn’t her usually smiling, confident self as she joined Harry and his estranged brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Princess Catherine, on a walkabout outside Windsor Castle Saturday. Instead, she looked tense and uncertain for this historic event — the first time the two couples, once known as Fab Four, were seen together in public since Harry and Meghan’s departure for North America.
Only William, the newly anointed Prince of Wales, had the power to make this show of unity possible. William texted Harry and asked if he and Meghan would like to join him and Catherine on a walkabout, the Daily Mail’s columnist Richard Kay reported.
“William took the view that at this time of national mourning a show of unity was needed out of respect to the queen,” Kay reported. Harry, of course, also had to agree, Kay said.
“These coming days are going to be extremely intense and getting through them without distraction can only be a good thing,” a source told Kay, likely referring to such distractions as headlines about Meghan not being wanted.
As William and Catherine walked purposefully out of Windsor Castle, Harry and Meghan clearly appeared to follow their lead, with Meghan holding tightly to Harry’s hand.
Meghan finally seemed to relax and appear warm and natural as she joined her husband on one side of the Long Walk to shake hands with people in the crowd and accept flowers. While some commentators thought that people appeared awkward with Meghan, others noted the warm smiles she received from many in the crowd.
Meghan no doubt was heartened to receive a hug from a 14-year-old girl who later told CNN that she wanted the duchess to know she was welcome in the U.K.
Meghan hugs a well wisher in the crowd. Looks like they both needed it. This is the kind of warmth the Royal Family need to show in times like these. pic.twitter.com/E8x0QrN3eo
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) September 10, 2022
Royal experts say it’s too soon to know whether this walkabout was done for show, marked a temporary truce that will last through the funeral or represents an actual thawing in relations between the Sussexes and the new prince and princess of Wales.
After stepping away from royal life and moving to Montecito in 2020, Harry and Meghan’s relationship with his family became increasingly strained as they began making a series of public revelations about royal life.
Critics have said that the couple needed to use allegations about the royal family harboring a racist member or being repressive or dysfunctional to build their brand as they attempt to fulfill their lucrative deals with Spotify and Netflix. Such allegations have made for headline-generating content — whether for their 2021 bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, Meghan’s Archetypes podcast for Spotify or her recent provocative interview for The Cut magazine or Harry’s upcoming memoir.
Meghan of Montecito 👑
Great [email protected] Our Girl is Back!
— Sussex2020💃🥰❤🌺🌊😎🇨🇺🇺🇸 (@sussex2020) August 29, 2022
With The Cut interview, Meghan’s fans proclaimed that she was “back” in the spotlight, but a number of Meghan’s comments in the interview gave ammunition for her critics and showed why she wouldn’t be wanted around the royal family at the time of the queen’s death.
Meghan claimed that “just by existing” she and Harry “were upsetting the dynamic of the hierarchy.” She also suggested her husband had “lost” his father in the process of leaving royal life and spoke of her relief at being “able to tell (my) own story.” She also issued what some interpreted as a threat to the royal family to reveal more secrets when she said that she was free to “say anything” and said it was taking “a lot of effort” to forgive the royal family.
With the queen’s death, Meghan’s The Cut interview is starting to “look like an increasingly calamitous decision,” the Daily Beast said in an article asking “So, Just How Screwed are Harry and Meghan?”
Meanwhile, still looming over the relationship between the brothers and their wives is Harry’s memoir, Kay wrote.
“William loves his brother but there is this matter of trust,” one source told Kay.
The royals likely feel some of the same dread about Meghan’s upcoming projects, including her unreleased podcasts, wondering if, after the mourning period, she’ll still want to make good on her statements about saying “anything.”
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