Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have “stepped back” from their roles as royals — and, it seems, Britain has stepped back from them as well.
The duke and duchess of Sussex were absent from Britain’s National Television Awards last week, remaining in their exclusive California enclave of Montecito, according to the New York Post.
Not that this was unexpected; the NTAs, which began in 1995 and are run by independent broadcaster ITV, are a more populist version of the BAFTA TV Awards. If you don’t have a particular interest in the soap operas and Britcoms of Merrie England, the awards are wholly superfluous.
(In case you were wondering, the big winners at the awards included police drama “Line of Duty”; reality show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”; soap opera “Coronation Street”; and a comedy duo known as Ant and Dec, who are apparently A Thing™ over there.)
That’s not so interesting to anyone who’s not a Britisher. What might be interesting, however, is that our self-infatuated Californian royals aren’t quite so beloved at home in Albion anymore.
According to multiple reports, footage of the Sussexes and Oprah Winfrey from their March interview was roundly jeered by those in the audience at London’s 20,000-seat O2 Arena.
The heckling took place during a series of clips showing the major television moments from the past year, which included Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah — in which they alleged the royal family had engaged in racist bullying.
“As soon as Meghan and Harry appeared on screen, the audience started booing,” a source told The Sun.
“And then everyone joined in. It was really loud and funny.”
No audio from the arena was played during ITV’s broadcast, meaning the audience at home didn’t hear the booing.
However, the royal raspberry treatment was also reported by the Daily Mail.
“Immediately, there was audible booing throughout the arena. It was as though they were pantomime villains,” one person told the outlet.
Another source, described by the Daily Mail as “a celebrity who asked not to be named,” also confirmed the obloquy.
“When the clip came up of Meghan there were boos from the audience,” the person said.
“Some shouted out and there was laughing. There were a few embarrassed faces, but sadly Meghan was obviously not too popular on the night.”
It’s surprising that, in the past week, we haven’t seen a raft of thinkpieces deriding British celebrities and entertainment industry types as irredeemably racist.
Perhaps that’s because the British media have come to the conclusion that Harry and Meghan may not be the cause they want to get behind.
Just before the Oprah interview, in which Markle said she was driven to the brink of suicide by Windsor-related bullying, counterallegations surfaced that Markle herself was the bully.
Jason Knauf, the former communications secretary for the duke and duchess of Sussex, had first made the complaint in 2018, according to the New York Post. However, Buckingham Palace didn’t conduct an investigation until the allegations surfaced in The Times of London just prior to their Oprah sitdown.
Knauf alleged two personal assistants had been drummed out of the royal couple’s employ during Markle’s time in the palace, with a third having their confidence undermined.
“The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights,” Knauf said.
“I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year,” he said.
Buckingham Palace said it would “not tolerate bullying and harassment” and was “very concerned by the allegations,” but it might not publish its findings until 2022.
The allegations aren’t difficult to believe, however; if one is to judge by the beaten-down million-yard hostage-video stare Harry was sporting during the interview with Oprah, plenty of bullying is taking place within the bounds of conjugality.
But then, let’s not discount the prince’s role in this mess.
The younger of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana’s two children now intends to write a tell-all about the royal family, something one usually does when he or she has been divorced out of it and is desperate for a quick six-figure bank deposit. (Sarah Ferguson, duchess of York, has this grift down to a science.)
He also managed to alienate those in the colonies by calling the First Amendment “bonkers” during a podcast appearance in May.
We fought a war in 1776 so we don’t have to care what you say or think.
That being said, you have chosen to seek refuge from your homeland here and thrive because all of what our country has to offer and one of the biggest things is the 1st amendment – show some utter respect. https://t.co/Xy1aU988Ui
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) May 17, 2021
It’s little wonder, then, that both royals have seen their approval ratings dive this year. Harry’s sat at 43 percent in April, according to polls cited by the Daily Mail. He’s now at 34 percent. Markle, meanwhile, has gone from 30 percent in April to 26 percent now.
The only way those numbers could get worse, one imagines, is if they became the first royals to appear on “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” And that way, they could be booed at next year’s NTAs, too!
The Sussexes may have “stepped back” from their roles as working royals, but maybe it’s time for them to step back from their roles as drama-starting media darlings, as well.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.