Kate Middleton contradicts wild Meghan Markle claim

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The pandemic taught the world about the joys of WFH but the royal family has been doing it for centuries. The real pioneer of this would have to be Queen Victoria who, grief-stricken after the loss of her Bertie (Prince Albert), basically retreated to the Isle of Wight to mope for a few decades. (The Buckingham Palace gift shop should do a mug with ‘Heads of State Do It At Home’.)

This week, her great great great great granddaughter-in-law Kate, the Princess of Wales has up to the exact same wheeze, though blessedly not while wearing a whale bone corset and contemplating the subjugation of a subcontinent.

The princess has, over the course of the last couple of months, proven herself to be the Houdini of the Horse and Hound set, not having been spied in public since December last year. The 42-year-old somehow managed to check into the London Clinic in January, undergo abdominal surgery and spend two weeks recuperating, ferried home to Windsor and then make the two and a half-hour drive to Norfolk without even one blurry iPhone photo coming out.

But still Kate has been ‘doing’ things inadvertently like proving that her sister-in-law Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has made a hash of things.

While Kate has been tucked up in bed in her Liberty jammies binge-watching Ex on the Beach and sipping restorative beef tea, Meghan has been busy.

On Tuesday the duchess and man who spends a significant proportion of everyday looking for his lost Xbox remote Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex launched a glossy new website, one which bears an uncanny resemblance to that of former leader of the free world and kitesurfing neophyte President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

The new Sussex.com offers rich, rich pickings, from the fact that the Sussexes’ royal titles are plastered all over the place with a certain sense of urgency to their cringey self-important bios.

The site comes with a panoply of capital letters and grandiose claims and thus the British press has been having a field day. (They probably even packed sandwiches and a Thermos to really make a day of it.)

But there is one sentence that is simply impossible to go past. Meghan, according to her bio, “has been named one of the most influential women in the world”.

Ready for the ‘however’? Of the instances the text goes on to cite – Time Magazine’s Most Influential People, The Financial Times’ 25 Most Influential Women, Variety Power of Women, and British Vogue’s Vogue 25 – all predate the release of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan. All predate the deluge of pabulum that was their six hours of TV. And all predated the Sussexes’ grand attempt to ‘take’ America.

Remember when the duke and duchess turned up on screens to really launch their careers and, after an initial firestorm of interest, ended up as the Rick Astleys of the streaming age? (When Netflix released data about their most-watched show of the first half of 2023, Harry & Meghan came in at 217st.)

Since then the couple has been labelled “grifters” and “losers” by Hollywood figures. No prestigious title has added the duchess to their ‘most influential’ lists since 2022.

In all fairness, every LinkedIn profile and CV ever written since some Neanderthal was asked to chisel their work experience on a nice bit of rock wall have we as a species been prone to a certain degree of exaggeration. However, there is a line and I think we have just galloped past it in a cloud of caramel cashmere separates.

Factually, Meghan might have previously been “named one of the most influential women in the world” but Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York was once far more liked than Diana, Princess of Wales. (Truly.)

Times change.

In 2024, Meghan is indisputably one of the most famous women in the world. So too can her wearing a particular brand change a fashion label’s fortunes overnight.

But “influential” in any more substantive sense – culturally, politically, economically?

Maybe she was, once. Back in 2020 and 2021, when her and Harry’s retreat from the royal circus tent was still fresh, still shocking, still stunning. Maybe when, for the very first time, the world was digesting the fact that a bi-racial duchess had found her palace experience so traumatising she had been left suffering from suicidal ideation.

Subsequently, though, more water has passed under the Sussex bridge than over the Hoover Dam. In the years since then, the Sussexes have become divisive figures whose willingness to monetise their pain, during a global pandemic and during an extended period of loss for the royal family with the deaths of the late Queen and Prince Philip, has seen their brand’s potency and their star crumble.

Harry and Meghan’s value, both commercially and as public figures, has deflated such that things can best be described in 2024 as flaccid.

On Wednesday it was announced that, after being embarrassingly let go by Spotify last year, the Duchess of Sussex had signed a new podcasting deal, this one with Lemonada Media, a company which has gotten more publicity in the hours since the news broke than in its six year history.

While Lemonada boasts a stable of impressive names – Julia Louis Dreyfss, Samantha Bee – this deal feels like a massive step down from the grand heights of audio giant Spotify and their very deep pockets. (Spotify is valued at about $68 billion, Lemonada at about $46 million. While no numbers for the new deal have come at the time of writing, it is hard to imagine that Lemonda contract would be anywhere near the $30 million figure that Spotify offered them.)

Contrast all of this with Kate. The woman has not been seen, heard from, or done a single thing in months except continuing to exist and her stock has never been higher.

The sudden removal of the Princess of Wales from the Buckingham Palace starting line up has served to demonstrate how indispensable she is the future of the monarchy.

The scarcity of Kate has made crystal clear just how precious of a commodity she is. Right now is the perfect time for her to call King Charles and idly wonder if maybe he can spare an island somewhere, just a lovely little ‘get well’ pressie. That and maybe one of those honking diamonds that Queen Victoria kept being ‘given’ by her subjects in India. (Jolly good of all those Maharajas to so readily proffer forth their nation’s wealth, no? Especially since Victoria, who was also Empress of India, never once got around to visiting the vast landmass she ruled over.)

Really what Kate has delivered, inadvertently, is a lesson in the personal economics of demand and supply.

How long until Harvard Business School or some such will teach a course in brand management in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex serve as a cautionary tale?

One last question – what about Harry? Their original Spotify deal was for both of them to make audio content, the duke’s ideas, according to Bloomberg, including wanting to interview Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump about their childhoods. (Dictators Dish? Tyrant Talk?)

Meghan’s Lemonada deal makes no mention of the duke.

The duchess did tell Deadline however that along with re-releasing her limp one-and-done series Archetypes she has “a dynamic new podcast … in the works.”

Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

Read related topics:Kate MiddletonMeghan Markle

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