How Harry and Meghan's wedding eclipsed William and Kate's popularity and left them in the shadows
William and Kate enjoyed complete monopoly in the media until Harry and Meghan started dating in July 2016
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle celebrated their second wedding anniversary on May 19. While their big day was a historic moment in the British monarchy, the union of Princess Diana's second son and the former 'Suits' actress effectively ended the popularity that Prince William and Kate Middleton enjoyed before that.
William and Kate Middleton enjoyed complete monopoly when it came to the front pages of the newspapers until news broke that Harry was dating Meghan—a bi-racial American divorcee and then-star of hit American series 'Suits'—in July 2016. The mere mention of Meghan generated a buzz in the media. The British subjects were quite keen to discover more about the Westerner who could someday become a member of the royal family. However, the tabloids could not track Meghan's every move and thrust cameras at her face every day as was the tradition that every love interest of the royal members has been subjected to in the past, including Kate Middleton.
As a result, when Harry announced that he had gotten engaged to Meghan on November 27, 2017, there was still quite a bit that the British media did not know about the first Duchess of color. As a result, once they got married the following year, the tabloid hawks which were circling above their heads got a free pass. The fact that Meghan always chose to be vocal about the struggles she faced in her journey to get acquainted with the royal family as she tried to do things her own way, even establish her own sense of style, proved to be fodder for newspapers, which spun even the most trivial gestures of hers into sensational news.
With Meghan taking up a larger portion of the news, William and Kate's charity work, public life, and personal feats were swept under the rug. What initially started off as the 'fab four' who were going to be the faces of the new generation of royals, ended up being a competition between a pair of couples. The contest eventually also found itself extended to the world of social media, where an Instagram war started between the accounts of the Sussexes and Cambridges.
The Sun reported back in January - after Harry and Meghan announced that they would be stepping down as senior members of the royal family - that the presently defunct SussexRoyal page had gathered more followers than Kate and William's KensingtonRoyal account. Ronn Torossian, CEO of PR firm 5W Public Relations, told Fabulous Digital at the time that the controversy that Harry and Meghan created by their unprecedented exit from the monarchy had created a boost in their social media followers, causing them to gain half a million in just days following the announcement.
“Given the recent media frenzy, it comes as no shock that Meghan and Harry have surpassed William and Kate in terms of social following," he said. "They are carving out a new brand for themselves, and with the increased freedom that comes along with no longer being official royals, it would not be shocking if the Sussexes become more popular that the Kensingtons, albeit in a different way. While the Sussexes are clearly on a different path than the Kensingtons, this is another proof point that the royal family has undergone a great loss with Meghan and Harry stepping down – they were, in many ways, the future of the royal ‘brand.'"
And not just that, negative stories about William and Kate began making the rounds in the media - something that had rarely happened before. There were rumors of William "bullying" his younger brother within the palace walls to the extent where the latter was forced to leave. There were also talks of a feud brewing between Kate and Meghan. Despite the palace putting out statements on more than one occasion, denying these rumors, they were further fueled by the silence displayed by all the royal family members in the aftermath of the lawsuit filed by Meghan and Harry against one of the leading newspapers of the United Kingdom, which was accused of gross breach of the couple's privacy.
Harry and Meghan's popularity did not wane even in the days leading up to their official exit from royalty. During Harry and Meghan's 'farewell tour' before Megxit when they took part in the Endeavour Fund Awards for the third year in a row, handing out awards to outstanding veterans, servicemen, and servicewomen, royal expert Daniela Elser said that the couple has broken molds when it comes to their glamour, openness, charm and, most notably, their sexiness.
"When Harry and Meghan married and morphed into Sussexes, they were not only a powerful modernizing force they brought something hitherto unheard of to the royal brand — sexiness," she said. "I don't just mean their good looks, rather they made a hoary institution seem like a truly attractive and appealing prospect. When Meghan took to the stage to present an award, her glow and smile would have melted the coldest of republican hearts. Likewise, when Harry delivered a speech later in the night, charmingly flubbing his lines and speaking with true passion about supporting veterans, he brought authenticity and warmth that was reminiscent of his mother."
"There is no getting around the awkward fact that [William and Kate] lack the stardust quality that the Sussexes permanently exude. By contrast, Harry and Meghan bring a thrilling vitality to the whole royal enterprise," she added. The royal expert believes that their vitality, and mass appeal, are a huge loss to the royal family now that Harry and Meghan have left it.