Meghan and Harry have left ‘big void’ in Royal Family

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Photographs of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry behind the scenes of the One Young World Summit last month have been published by photographer Misan Harriman. Posted on Instagram, one photo shows the couple standing close as they hold hands moments before taking the stage at the opening ceremony, while another shows Meghan  in a bold, red trouser suit — with Harry standing slightly behind at her left side. They came two days after the Royal Family released an official portrait of the King, Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales. 

In a clear symbolisation of the continuation of the monarchy, King Charles III and Queen Camilla stand beside the future King and Queen — Prince William and Princess Kate. The new photograph was taken in Buckingham Palace a day before the late Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral. 

Royal commentators and hosts of Royally Obsessed, Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito discussed the photographs on this week’s episode of their podcast. While they acknowledged the new portrait showcases a more slimmed-down monarchy, they admitted to feeling as though something was “lacking”, namely the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

Ms Fiorito said “and it feels like there is a big void from Harry and Megan”, who stepped down from their senior positions within the Firm almost three years ago. 

The commentators noted a lack of “excitement” and questioned whether the new ‘Fab Four’ had the “star power” or “glamour”, commonly associated with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who posed for their “gorgeous shots” at the charity event in Manchester on September 4. 

One fan described Meghan and Harry as a “power couple” in the comments of Mr Harriman’s Instagram post, while another said: “Beautiful photograph of two people who have chosen each other above all else.” 

But some royal commentators have questioned the timing of the Sussexes’ photograph release, arguing that it may have been in a bid to outshine the Royal Family. 

Biographer Tom Bower, who wrote ‘Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors’, told Page Six he “absolutely” believes the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released their most recent portraits to humiliate their UK counterparts. 

He said: “It was all about, we’re back now on course to build Brand Meghan and the book, the Netflix series, the podcast. Everything is money. And to their advantage, they were in the public eye for seven days during the funeral or more, every day they were filmed.”

Writing in the Daily Mail, Richard Kay said: “It is not difficult to imagine how this picture will be viewed in sunny California, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are based. Might it deepen their feelings of exclusion and exile, or will it merely serve to remind them why they chose to break from the family in the first place?

“It surely can be no coincidence that the picture was taken when the couple were still in Britain and several days before they returned home to their children Archie and Lilibet. It must, therefore, be yet another signal that they will never again return to their central role in royal life.”

The release of the photographs comes amid speculation regarding the Sussexes’ future media projects. Last year, it was announced that Harry was working on a memoir which promised a “wholly truthful” account of his life so far, including his time as a working prince. 

Initially, the book was due to be published in the autumn of this year but delays meant that it was more likely to hit shelves closer to Christmas. Now, there are talks of the release date being pushed to next year or even scrapping the book altogether.

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Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess are said to have been filming for an at-home style documentary series for Netflix. While there has been no official confirmation, it has been reported that it would give a glimpse into the couple’s Southern Californian life. Film crews have been spotted following Meghan and Harry on various occasions during public outings. 

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, there have been reports that Meghan and Harry are getting cold feet about the Netflix series, with the duo rumoured to be requesting major edits to the footage. It has been assumed that the footage includes discussions of the couple’s strained relationship with the Royal Family, which they may want to edit now that Harry’s father is sitting on the throne.

A source told the Daily Mail the Duke and Duchess are trying to “downplay much of what they have said about King Charles III, Queen Consort Camilla, and the Prince and Princess of Wales.” 

Another insider said: “They’ve made significant requests to walk back content they themselves have provided — to the extent that some Netflix staff believe, if granted, it will effectively shelve the project indefinitely.

It had previously been suggested that the release of the show could coincide with the new season of The Crown, which has been set to show on screens on November 9. However, while a date for the hit  drama has been confirmed, there have been no announcements about the rumoured docuseries. 

The book and unconfirmed documentary are just a couple of projects Meghan and Harry have been working on since stepping down from the Royal Family. Harry is also working on a docuseries about the Invictus Games, while Meghan has launched a successful podcast on Spotify. The pair also continue their work under Archewell, a non-profit they founded after leaving The Royal Foundation. 

Their ventures in the US are in keeping with the goals they set out when they announced their decision to leave the Firm and relocate overseas. And, a professor specialising in how the Royal Family brands itself has claimed the Duke and Duchess’ latest photographs are simply another step towards the couple setting themselves apart from the Royal Family. 

Cele Otnes, US professor of advertising, told “I think they’re just trying to build their relevance as a brand independent of the Royal Family, which always was going to be a challenge.

“It’s the Royal association that made them interesting to people in the first place. The jury is out as to what level of interest remains since they chose to leave.”

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