Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding kicked off a new wave of royal fever in the U.K. and across the world in May 2018. Over 50 million people watched the nuptials in Britain and the U.S. alone, with almost 30 million Americans tuning in to see one of their own join the ranks of the British monarchy. Support for the happy couple was high at the time, but public opinion has since somewhat changed. A YouGov poll conducted between June 2018 and June 2019 found that support for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had dropped — only 49 percent of the surveyed 9,000 interviewees approved of the former Suits star.
With Prince Harry and Markle spearheading the drive, the royal household has been making a concerted effort to change with the times. They’ve become the faces of the modern monarchy, going out of their way to address a wide range of global issues head on. So, why have certain sections of the press seemingly turned against them? While their intentions came across as noble in the beginning, the Sussexes have been getting called out for hypocrisy in the media with increasing regularity. Royalists would argue that they’re being held to impossibly high standards, but the claims that they don’t practice what they preach just won’t go away. Are Harry and Meghan really a pair of royal hypocrites? The press seems to think so.
Harry and Meghan took four private flights in just 11 days
Do Harry and Meghan genuinely care about the environment? They regularly comment on the need to reduce our carbon footprints, so when it transpired that they’d taken four private flights in just 11 days in August 2019, the press came after them hard. According to the Independent, the Sussexes flew to Nice for a getaway with baby Archie just days after celebrating Markle’s 38th birthday on the island of Ibiza. Private jets were reportedly used for each leg on both trips.
The Ibiza vacation alone is estimated to have dumped 12.5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the Mirror reports. To put that into perspective, the carbon footprint of your everyday Brit is 13 tons per year. « Frankly it’s hypocritical, » Ken Wharfe, a former bodyguard to Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, told the media outlet. « Harry can’t be preaching about the catastrophic effects of climate change while jetting around the world on a private plane. »
The royals stayed at Sir Elton John’s multi-million dollar hilltop villa while in Nice, and the « Rocket Man » singer was quick to defend them when news of their apparent hypocrisy broke. « To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, » he said (via The Sun), « We ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint. »
Prince Harry took a gas-guzzling yacht to a climate change summit
The four-flights-in-11-days fiasco wasn’t the first time Prince Harry was accused of being a fake environmentalist. Just weeks before, the Duke of Sussex made headlines for traveling to a climate summit on a gas-powered yacht. The redheaded royal was one of around 200 influential people invited to the annual Google Camp event in Sicily, which was reportedly largely focused on dealing with climate change.
According to the Express, experts have estimated that the posh yacht burned through around 200 gallons of fuel during the trip, reportedly releasing « over three tons of dangerous carbon dioxide chemicals » every hour. The fact that Prince Harry lectured those in attendance on the importance of sustainability during the summit was picked up on by the media. He and his fellow guests were accused of hypocrisy after the Italian press revealed that 114 private jets were scheduled to land in Palermo for the summit.
« Google Camp is meant to be a place where influential people get together to discuss how to make the world better, » a source told Page Six. « There will likely be discussions about online privacy, politics, human rights, and of course, the environment, which makes it highly ironic that this event requires 114 private jets to happen. » Harry Styles, Priyanka Chopra, Katy Perry, and Orlando Bloom were all spotted at the event.
Meghan Markle blew half a million on her baby shower
Like her husband, Meghan Markle has been called out by the media for environmental hypocrisy more than once. In February 2019, the duchess returned to the States for her baby shower, spending five days in New York City. According to the Daily Mail, she opted to make the six-hour journey across the Atlantic in a private jet rather than one of the many commercial flights available that day. All in all, the trip reportedly cost $500,000. « That trip cost half a million, » one enraged Twitter user wrote, the British tab reported. « No wonder there are anti-royalists out there when we’ve got thousands of homeless people on our streets. »
The fact that Markle has been very vocal about tackling poverty led to her being trolled for general overspending, but environmentalists were particularly displeased with her chosen mode of transport. « The obscene cost of this 5 day trip is utter hypocrisy, » read another angry tweet (via the Daily Mail). « Not to mention the carbon footprint of taking a private jet. » These concerns were echoed by a spokesman from Friends of the Earth, who invited Markle to « set a good climate trend by flying less. »
Every pregnant woman deserves a baby shower, but for some, Markle chartering a private jet and partying the night away in the Penthouse Suite of the five-star Mark Hotel (reportedly the most expensive suite in the U.S. at $75,000 dollars per night) was a bit much.
Is Meghan’s spending really out of control?
Some news outlets have pointed out that Markle has spent way more than the half a million dollars she reportedly blew on her New York baby shower, despite her passion for fighting poverty and sustainability. « It’s not just hypocrisy about the fact that they travel in private jets, Meghan spent more than a million [pounds] — she hasn’t even been married a year — just on clothes and she is supposed to be an eco-warrior, » royal commentator Amanda Platell said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (via Express). « Yet, fashion is an even bigger plastic producer than aviation and shipping put together. It’s like, ‘Where are you coming from?' »
According to The Sun, Markle has a « £787,000 ($950,000) Givenchy-packed wardrobe » at Frogmore Cottage, the stunning Windsor property that was completely renovated for the Sussexes at a cost of £2.4 million ($2.9 million). With the exception of the fixtures and fittings, the refurbishment was at the expense of taxpayers, the publication added. Author and royal biographer Angela Levin questioned why the couple didn’t just make a home at Kensington Palace instead, saying, « The renovation there would have cost much less, only the roof needed doing. »
The move to Frogmore was compared to something from a reality show by TV personality Piers Morgan. « That’s the [behavior] of a Kardashian, not a member of the Royal family, » he said during an appearance on LBC Radio (via The Sun). « They’ve got to be careful. »
A royal expert says Duchess Meghan has ‘double standards’
Royal commentator Amanda Platell called Meghan Markle out for having « double standards » when it comes to her family during an appearance on Good Morning Britain (via Express). While Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was invited to her wedding, the rest of her family were apparently not welcome at Windsor Castle for her big day. « A lot of people think like me that if you are so big on love and light then why don’t you spread some on your own family and your dad? » Platell said.
The duchess claimed that her controversial father, Thomas Markle, was actually unable to walk her down the aisle due to his ill health and asked that he be « given the space he needs to focus on his health » in a Palace statement. However, Samantha Markle has been openly critical of her younger half-sister in a number of interviews. In August 2019, she accused the Duchess of Sussex of « non-Christian behavior » and implied that she was a hypocrite for having baby Archie’s christening in a church. « For my sister to go into a church knowing what she has done to our father, ignoring him through every holiday, the wedding, two heart attacks, the birth and the christening, is disrespectful, » Samantha Markle told the Daily Star. « Everything about the christening look faked and photoshopped but more at issue is the fact that she has traded an entire family to be royal, and shame on her. »
Meghan’s Vogue issue was branded hypocritical by journalists
Meghan Markle wasn’t the first royal to guest edit a magazine, but the news that she was to take charge of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue riled up the press. « It is the sense of entitlement — and now, more seriously, the hypocrisy — which is getting out of hand, » The Yorkshire Post‘s Jayne Dowle wrote. « Can this really be the same woman who refused, in concordance with her husband presumably, to reveal details of where her son was born — and then baby Archie’s godparents following the baby’s christening? »
Piers Morgan penned his own column for the Daily Mail after learning that Markle had spent seven months editing her Vogue issue, which touches on mental health, female empowerment, race, disability, transgender rights, climate change, diversity, and privilege. « The last one made me laugh out loud, » Morgan said. « I’m sure the one thing we all need most in the world right now is a fabulously rich and entitled princess lecturing us on privilege from her servant-laden royal quarters. »
The British tabloid referred to the « shamelessly hypocritical » duchess as « Me-Me-Meghan » in its headline, making no secret about where it stood on Markle doubling up as an editor. However, some outlets came to her defense on the other side of the Atlantic. Omid Scobie, a royal contributor for ABC News, told BuzzFeed: « Since day one we’ve seen Meghan [criticized] for things that other royals have been celebrated for. »
Meghan attended Wimbledon in a ‘private capacity’
Wimbledon is one of the biggest sporting events in the British calendar, and therefore the famous tennis tournament is attended by countless photographers, professional and amateur alike. Meghan Markle may not have been keen on getting snapped when she showed up at the event in 2019, as security explained she was there in a « private capacity. » This didn’t go down at all well with members of the British press. « No wonder there is a growing tide of resentment against the Sussexes for their secretive, high maintenance attitude and diva-ish demands for privacy when it suits them, » media consultant Sally Jones wrote in a scathing piece for The Telegraph (via USA Today).
Also writing for The Telegraph, columnist Allison Pearson claimed that it was « time Meghan was taught a well-known British phrase: ‘Get over yourself, love.' » Elsewhere, TV presenter (and vocal critic of Meghan Markle) Piers Morgan was apparently incensed by the news, going as far as telling the duchess that she should return to the States if she didn’t like the attention. « A private capacity, at Wimbledon? This is so ridiculous, » Morgan said on Good Morning Britain. « It’s frankly hypocritical and they’re not private people, they’re the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. If you want to be private, go back to America and live privately. It’s pretty straightforward. » Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid came to Markle’s defense, telling Morgan that « she wants to live here. »
Then there’s Meghan’s avocado-gate
We can’t defend Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from all of their critics, but sometimes it does seem like the press is out to get them. In January 2019, the Daily Mail‘s Tom Leonard blasted Markle for serving avocado on toast to one of her guests.
« The campaigning duchess may be passionate when it comes to racial equality and female empowerment, but for someone who wants to save the planet, she’s committed something of a faux pas with avocados, » Leonard wrote. « The fact is that rampant avocado production in the Third World has been linked with water shortages, human rights abuses, illegal deforestation, ecosystem destruction and general environmental devastation. » He went on to explain how avocados have become such a lucrative business in Mexico that they’ve been dubbed « green gold » and are now « filling the coffers of brutal drug cartels. »
This may be true, but pinning it all on Markle seems like something of a stretch, as Cosmopolitan pointed out. The fashion mag couldn’t believe that the former actress was being linked to drug cartels simply because she served some avocado, and neither could Twitter. « That avocado toast pic really triggered some people huh, » Omid Scobie joked, while The Guardian‘s Claire Phipps tweeted, « We can now say with some certainty that there is nothing the Daily Mail can’t blame on Meghan. »
Sure, they don’t always help themselves, but some outlets will seemingly never let up on the woke royal couple.