Harry & Meghan: From Heroes to Villains - What’s Next?

Harry & Meghan: From Heroes to Villains - What’s Next?

Harry and Meghan are at a dangerous moment when it comes to their reputation. Since their move to the US, the pair have been estranged from his family, cut off financially, filed ten lawsuits in the space of three years, and things don’t seem to be going great for them stateside, either.

Everything they’ve turned their hands to, from tell-all interviews to Netflix specials, has received a lot of attention but also a lot of backlash. South Park, which famously spoofed the duo, is not alone in pointing out that maybe Harry and Meghan have overplayed their “victim” narrative. Even Chris Rock threw Meghan into his stand-up special, “joking” that “everyone’s trying to be the victim. Like what’s with this girl Meghan Markle? Acting all dumb, like she don’t know nothing.”

So far Harry and Meghan have found exploiting their own Royal Drama very lucrative, even if it’s caused strains between them and the royal family. Though Charles extended an olive branch by inviting the couple to the coronation, things didn’t go so smoothly, especially with William. So if people get tired of hearing Harry and Meghan’s same sad story — and they don’t have any new royal content due to leaving their official duties for the family — they might even have to rethink how they’re going to make their money from now on.

So what’s next for Harry and Meghan? In the aftermath of the Coronation, do they need to repair their relationship with the Royals, go full Hollywood, or take an Entrepreneur route? Here’s our Take.

Meghan & Harry’s Million Dollar Strategy

Harry and Meghan have made money in numerous ways since Charles cut them off in 2020 — and their self-exploitation has paid off. They’ve struck numerous deals worth incredible sums, while also tugging at the heartstrings of the public; attempting to make people feel bad for them about both the emotional trauma they went through with the Royal Family, and losing King Charles’ financial support. But there’s been a steady backlash to that. While Harry told Oprah Winfrey “My family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford security for us. I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this”, Vanity Fair later reported that prior to the allowance being terminated, in the early months of 2020, Charles had given Harry part of a £4.5 million payout — around $5.62m — split between him and William.

They are extremely wealthy people living a luxurious lifestyle, so their attempts to seem relatable or hard-done-by — as Prince Harry details in his novel Spare have all backfired. Meanwhile, the English, American, and global publics are fairly split over the couple’s bigger claims about mistreatment. While Meghan’s long faced a lot of criticism in the British press and among the public, the US audience was a lot more sympathetic; yet even here there’s a growing consensus that the couple needs to move on from complaining about being victimized.

The Oprah Interview

The couple kicked off their life of independence by doing a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey. While the accusations of racism were met with horror globally, the British press continued to peddle the anti-Meghan and Harry narrative – and many members of the British public had simply ceased to care. But the general consensus was that there was an appetite for more Harry and Meghan news – so although they didn’t make anything directly from the Oprah interview, money-spinning contracts started rolling in.

The Netflix Deal

First, Harry and Meghan signed a $100 million Netflix deal and have so far created a six-part documentary about their relationship. It was Netflix’s biggest documentary debut ever. Still, the reviews weren’t great, and as crisis management expert Howard Bragman told New York Times royal correspondent Sarah Lyall concerning the couple: “You have to realize that you can really only tell your story once.” And because Harry and Meghan had already talked, many people felt they already knew a lot of what was revealed in the documentary.

The Book Deal

Harry reportedly signed a $20 million, four-book deal with Penguin Random House for his life story. When his memoir, Spare, was released, it broke sales records, selling 1.43 million copies worldwide on the first day: the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time. But again, while he’s made a lot of money from the book, it doesn’t come without a cost. His allegations are said to have ‘greatly distressed’ his father. He angered military experts when he discussed killing fighters while serving in Afghanistan — even causing Iran’s Foreign Ministry to call it a “war crime.” Even before the book was released, the press began speculating that the tides were turning against Harry and Meghan. The book was mocked on talk shows and PR experts said that, though it was being talked about, it may not be for the right reasons. Lyall also asked a question that has continued to dog the couple since: “Once they have exhausted the topic of themselves, what is left for them to talk about?”

The Spotify Podcasts

Next, the couple signed a deal with Spotify to create a series of podcasts. Much to the chagrin of music artists, who claim the streaming platform doesn’t pay them nearly enough, the couple was reportedly paid £18 million – that’s around $22.5 million. In her podcast, Archetypes, Meghan speaks to her famous friends – from Serena Williams to Mariah Carey to Paris Hilton – about the different ways women are stereotyped: “It’s really about dissecting and unboxing these labels and these tropes that try to hold women back.” It didn’t get great reviews, but early listening numbers were positive. However, reputation management expert Mark Borkowski told The Independent newspaper that in order to hold her audience’s interest, “Meghan needs to build a strong creative team around her. She has to move on and reinvent herself.” The podcast went on to win an award, then hit a roadblock when its successful producer left after the first season.

So far, Harry and Meghan’s whole narrative has been about leaving the Royal Family, so unless they rejoin or rebuild contact across the Pond somehow, they won’t have any new royal content to share and capitalize on. Harry’s appearance at the Coronation caused speculation that the pair were trying to build bridges with the family, and maybe that’s one way they’ll attempt to claw back some cash.

Re-Entering The Royal Family Fold

Given how much the couple has said about the royal family, it seems unlikely that Harry and Meghan will try to truly rejoin, or would be welcomed if they did. Still, they have been trying to walk back some of the more intense things they’ve said about the Family — and everything Harry has said has always been followed up with caveats; how he wishes he could have his father and brother back, how bad he feels for them being trapped in the institution of royalty. Meghan reportedly wrote to Charles to talk about the issues she had with the family, but only after their interview with Oprah, so that probably didn’t help.

According to the press, the couple has been making moves towards reconciliation with the family, and of course, they never actually gave up their titles of Duke and Duchess. In the time leading up to the King’s coronation, rumors swirled around the pair’s attendance, and when news broke that Meghan would not be in attendance (officially because Archie’s fourth birthday falls on the same day) this added fuel to the fire. Some even claim that members of the British public were rejoicing that Meghan wouldn’t be there. Alongside her absence from Prince Philip’s funeral in 2022, there’s now a pattern developing of Harry still showing some closeness to his family while Meghan is clearly at more of a remove. The pattern continued to prove true at the king’s coronation, which Meghan failed to attend and Harry’s isolation was evident. He arrived alone, was seated several rows behind senior family members, was not present on the balcony, and was left alone—having reportedly not spoken to or interacted with his brother at all. Though Harry’s quick arrival and departure may have come off as icy, he was trying to make it back in time for his son’s birthday party. So the gesture of making a quick trip to honor his father becomes even more thoughtful when considering he had to squeeze it in alongside his own responsibilities as a father. Nevertheless, while Harry took part in chanting “God Save The King”, it remains unclear if his relationship with his father can be truly saved. According to a close friend of King Charles, the King keeps photographs of Harry and Meghan on the mantelpiece at Clarence House, the home he shares with Camilla, so perhaps all is not lost.

But what if it is? Here are their other options…

Meghan could go back to acting

When rehashing their same old story stops working, will Meghan be forced to return to her previous career? Meghan told Variety magazine, “No. I’m done. I guess never say never, but my intention is to absolutely not.” So it looks unlikely, but not impossible. She definitely will be returning to Hollywood, though, because…

She just got representation

There’s been a long battle in Hollywood over who gets to represent Meghan Markle — and she just signed with Rihanna’s talent agency — but not for acting. After the success of Archetypes, she’s reportedly planning to focus on production and partnerships, with the aim of stepping out of Harry’s shadow and becoming “The Queen of Hollywood.” So it’s possible that the pair could end up with some pretty lucrative TV, film, and licensing deals as a result — rumor has it they’re starting with rom-coms.

She also might revive The Tig

When she revealed her relationship with Harry, Meghan was forced to shut down her successful lifestyle blog, The Tig, but she’s making noise about bringing it back. With an ambition to rival Gwyneth Paltrow’s $200 million Goop empire, Meghan has approval to restart the site. Perhaps Meghan will be adding wellness guru and writer to her roster of talents?

And that leads us to wonder:

What can Harry actually…do?

He’s only ever had one job – as a soldier – and he doesn’t have career experience or education to fall back on. Will the former prince need to retrain? Or can he just keep on dredging up the past, or filing lawsuits when he needs an injection of cash? Many experts — from PRs to royal correspondents — don’t think it’s possible for him to continue doing that. So what will he do?

One transferable skill that he does have from his years in the royal family is that he’s good with people — he’s spoken to lots of people around the world, and that’s a huge driver behind Meghan and Harry’s non-profit, the Archewell Foundation. So it’s possible that, if Meghan makes the money, Harry will spend it on doing good. Hopefully, the more the couple proves their commitment to the people who need it most, the better the public perception of them will be.


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