Meghan Markle's embarrassing cameo shows she and Prince Harry have begun their inevitable descent
The miracle of the latest advertisement for Clevr, a “mission-driven, women-led wellness brand” which sells revolting-sounding powdered coffee, is that it features Meghan Markle doing actual work. The Duchess of Sussex is seen packing boxes, making hot drinks and doing something or other on a computer before doing a mock fist bump and exiting off-screen.
That’s the last contact she’ll have with manual labour, but what this Instagram ad does show is Meghan returning to her profession – acting – in order to bolster her new endeavour, investing. Three years ago she invested an undisclosed sum in Clevr, “a product that I personally love and has a holistic approach to wellness”.
Duly, she sent a basket of Clevr products to her neighbour, Oprah Winfrey, and Oprah very obligingly promoted the company online. That’s how these things work. But who knows? Perhaps latte-powder isn’t quite the investment needed to sustain the Sussexes’ fortune, now that they’re living a life of financial independence from the Royal family. For what do they – or rather, she – have to sell other than the residual fairy dust from their title and connections?
The couple’s Christmas card – though obviously, this being Meghan, they wished everyone “a very happy holiday season” instead (which, I can tell you right now, wouldn’t have been the thing to send the late Queen) – was not just from them but from the Archewell Foundation and Archewell Productions.
And the reality is that neither is faring terribly well. One of the two revelations from Omid Scobie’s terrible book, Endgame (the second being that the King feels sympathy for his brother Andrew) is the extent of the Sussexes’ financial difficulties. That deal with Spotify which was meant to set them up – it went nowhere. Only one of the couple’s ideas made it to production, and one unkind executive at the company called them “grifters”. Meghan’s proposed podcast, Archetypes, didn’t run.
It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for Harry
More recently their local paper turned on them; the Hollywood Reporter numbered the couple among this year’s leading losers: “After a whiny Netflix documentary, a whiny biography (Spare – even the title is a pouty grip) and an inert podcast, the Harry and Meghan brand swelled into a sanctimonious bubble just begging to be popped – and South Park was the pin.”
South Park? It satirised the couple’s World-Wide Privacy Tour. As for Prince Harry’s latest victory over the Mirror Group, it may have confirmed him in his own estimation as a fighter of dragons, but it won’t actually pay their extensive bills.
It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for Harry, who could have led a decent life focusing on helping military veterans, whom he does have fellow feeling for. The initiative to make for California and live the celebrity life without the graft did not come from him. Looking at him in the final bit of The Crown, he did have grounds for anger – the displacement of his mother by Camilla isn’t something he took well. He’s entitled to feel aggrieved by the way his unwanted stepmother did not just help destroy his parents’ marriage but has blotted out his mother’s memory.
For Meghan, being reduced to an extra in an Instagram ad, is not what she had in mind when she cut her husband loose from the Royal Family. She intended to monetise her title and royal husband, and it’s turned out to be harder than she thought. The only way is down from here, in a career that has been characterised by ruthless upward mobility (see Tom Bowers’ hair-raising biography). Who knows what indignities the pair will be up for as they try to maintain their large estate, their staff? Let’s hope Meghan is at least kind to Harry as they start their descent.