Harry and Meghan’s Comeback Falters After These Public Missteps

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Feb 26, 2024

The year didn’t start smoothly for Harry and Meghan. Prince Harry’s attendance at the Living Legends of Aviation Awards in late January stirred the pot with his unexpected comments about King Charles’ health battle.

The move was perceived as odd by many, causing a stir among onlookers and leading to a less-than-favorable reaction from his team. It was a moment that kicked off a string of public missteps for the couple that has been trying to make a comeback since stepping down as senior members of the royal family in 2020.

Harry's 'Weird' Behavior

At the event, guests reported that the Duke of Sussex could be heard “cracking jokes” instead of wishing his father King Charles and sister-in-law Princess Catherine well, following their respective procedures (via The Mirror).

Prince Harry pictured with a slight smile as he arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Source: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

This behavior, while perhaps an attempt to maintain a lighthearted atmosphere, struck many as tone-deaf, given the public’s concern for the royal family’s well-being.

Meghan's Absence Noted

Meghan Markle’s decision to skip the aviation awards ceremony to care for their ill child was both understood and scrutinized. While her priority for family health was clear, her absence left Prince Harry to face the event’s challenges alone (via People).

Meghan Markle pictured in a blue dress during the Unveiling of the Labalaba Statue in Fiji

Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The move was seen as a missed opportunity for the couple to showcase their united front and work toward rebuilding their image. It also raised eyebrows, given Meghan’s appearance with Harry just days later.

Reunion in Jamaica

The scene shifted when Meghan joined Harry in Jamaica for the high-profile premiere of “One Love” a few days later. Their interaction with the Jamaican Prime Minister, amid his stance on severing ties with the monarchy, was a bold move.

Prince Harry pictured alongside his wife, Meghan Markle in London

Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

This encounter came at a sensitive time, raising questions about the couple’s awareness and respect for the current dynamics within the royal family.

Missing Public Support

Amid these appearances, the couple’s lack of public well-wishes for King Charles and the Princess of Wales, who were both dealing with health issues, was glaringly absent — despite Harry’s recent trip to visit King Charles.

Harry and Meghan in their Oprah interview

Source: The Royal Family Channel/YouTube

This omission was seen as a missed opportunity to extend an olive branch or show solidarity with the family, further complicating the narrative around their intentions and empathy toward family matters.

The Fallout from Spare

The release of Harry’s memoir, “Spare,” has only added fuel to the fire, with its revelations causing a rift within the royal family. The book’s content has alienated many royal supporters and has not helped in bridging the gap between Harry, his father King Charles, and his brother Prince William.

Prince Harry pictured in a navy suit and patterned tie during an event in London, England

Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

This backdrop makes every public appearance and action by Harry and Meghan even more scrutinized.


Attempted Reconciliation

Despite intentions to reconcile, Harry and Meghan’s actions seem to contradict their goals. Their recent appearances and the choices they’ve made in the public eye have raised doubts about their commitment to healing family rifts.

King Charles is pictured in a pin-striped navy suit during a reception at Buckingham Palace

Source: Victoria Jones/Getty Images

This ongoing saga suggests that the path to reconciliation is fraught with challenges, both from their actions and the public’s interpretations.


Public Perception Challenges

The Sussexes face an uphill battle in managing their public image. Each step they take is analyzed and often criticized, leaving little room for error.

King Charles pictured alongside his two sons, William and Harry, back in 2014

Source: John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Their recent missteps have not only affected their relationship with the royal family but also how they are viewed by the public, which continues to fall, per Forbes. This delicate situation requires careful navigation to avoid further alienation.


Defending Their Choices

In the face of criticism, Meghan has stood firm, defending their right to make independent choices.

Prince Harry pictured smiling beside his wife, Meghan Markle, at the Royal Lancaster Hotel

Source: Victoria Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

However, this defense sometimes clashes with the expectations and norms of royal protocol and public expectations. This tension highlights the couple’s struggle to find a balance between their personal freedoms and the responsibilities tied to their public personas.


The Impact on Their Brand

Harry and Meghan’s brand is at a crossroads. The recent controversies could have lasting impacts on their ability to engage with both public and private sectors.

Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex wave as they leave Windsor Castle after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House, hosted by the Prince of Wales on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

Source: Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Their actions in the coming months — especially with the health status of the royal family — will be crucial in determining the long-term viability of their initiatives and projects outside the royal umbrella.


The Team's Reflection on Recent Missteps

Behind the scenes, Harry and Meghan’s team is taking stock of recent events and their repercussions.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in black formal attire, standing in front of a window with drapes drawn back.

Source: GG.Govt.nz/Wikimedia Commons

According to The Mirror, insiders suggest that the team is concerned about the fallout from these missteps, recognizing the need for a more nuanced approach to navigate the complex landscape of royal relations and public sentiment.


Looking Ahead

The future for Harry and Meghan is uncertain. The couple’s actions and decisions in the coming year will be pivotal in shaping their relationship with the royal family and the public.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the United Nations Headquarters on July 18, 2022 in New York City. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex is the keynote speaker during the United Nations General assembly to mark the observance of Nelson Mandela International Day where the 2020 U.N. Nelson Mandela Prize will be awarded to Mrs. Marianna Vardinogiannis of Greece and Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea

Source: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

As they continue to navigate these challenges, the world watches closely to see if reconciliation is possible or if recent missteps have caused irreparable damage.