Meghan Markle’s ‘desperate’ move to improve public image in the UK as popularity plummets

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Meghan Markle Makes a Rare Public Appearance, and Can’t Avoid Prince ...

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Meghan Markle

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Meghan Markle’s latest move shows a “desperate” attempt to improve her public image in the UK following an unfavourable poll, according to a royal expert.

Royal expert Kinsey Schofield said the US-based couple made a “desperate” attempt recently to improve their popularity in Britain.

Speaking on TalkTV, she said: “They just hired a UK-based publicist. I mean [for] Meghan that is acknowledging that her polling is in the gutter.

“When you are desperate enough to hire not one but two new publicists…”

Host Jeremy Kyle cut her off, saying: “Imagine that though. You just imagine that a member of the Royal Family needs to hire a PR expert in the country they’re were born. That’s unbelievable.”

Schofield also described the new move as “crisis management.”
A new poll, which surveyed 2,166 British adults, showed only 25 percent of those who were asked had a positive opinion of the Duchess.

Meanwhile, 31 percent of those surveyed liked Prince Harry. Both were more favourable among the younger generation.

However, a separate poll by Newsweek found that Meghan’s popularity in the US is the same as King Charles’ at 36 percent, while 24 percent of people said they disliked her and the other didn’t specify a preference.

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Prince Harry returned to the UK this week as he prepares to attend an event for the Invictus Games at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Meghan has not accompanied him on the trip but is expected to fly to Nigeria, where she will meet him following his brief visit back to his home country.

Similar to Harry’s visit to England, the trip to Nigeria is also in honour of the Invictus Games, with the Sussexes set to take part in talks about the games.

Meghan previously revealed she is “43 per cent Nigerian” during an interview with Nigerian-American actor Ziwe on her podcast, Archetypes.

The Lake District is classic affluent retiree territory. In prime Lakeland villages, such as Windermere and Ambleside, most incomers are in their 50s and 60s and able to afford the premium prices which proximity to Lake Windermere commands, said Jack Irwin, of Fine & Country estate agents.

Ulverston, some 20 miles south and with better commuter links, is an increasingly popular option for 20- and 30-somethings. They still get easy access to some of the country’s most stunning countryside, while house prices are 20pc to 30pc lower.

“It is quite a vibrant town with a lot of shops and cafes, a secondary school, and recent new estates built, at all prices,” said Irwin, who estimates young buyers could pick up a two-bedroom flat for around £150,000 or a three-bedroom house for around £300,000.

Ulverston’s quaint Market Street is lined with independent cafes, and there are some hip hangouts such as the award winning Shed One distillery, where you can sample a range of gins, and attempt to make your own. The pub scene is lively and there are restaurants such as Base, established by Masterchef contestant and local lad Mark Satterthwaite in 2020.

Ulverston is a convenient spot for people who work at Sellafield, BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, in hospitality around the Lakes, as well as hybrid workers who are not required daily at their offices in Manchester or Leeds.

Buxton is one of the best known of the Peak District towns, but its reputation is very much one of tea shops and bracing country walks. On the streets, however, things are starting to feel more youthful. You can now enjoy a dirty chai latte or a salted caramel choux bun at artisanal bakery Pig and Pepper, and search for treasure at the monthly craft and vintage fair, while the annual Buxton Festival Fringe features contemporary art and street performers.

Buxton is hot on environmental issues too, and officially a plastic-free town. A growing University of Derby campus adds some Zoomer energy.

Rory Clarke, a partner at Bury & Hilton estate agents, said that Buxton is starting to see a revival following a long, slow period of decline from the 1950s, when staycationing fell out of favour with Britons seduced by cheap package holidays.

In 2020 a restoration of the council-owned Buxton Crescent, a grand arc of Georgian buildings modelled on Bath’s Royal Crescent, was completed and the site reopened as a grand spa hotel in 2020.

Younger buyers, said Clarke, often move to Buxton from Manchester. “There is a train service, but it is a very slow train,” he said. “It takes about an hour and it is only 20 miles. But Buxton is very quaint, the countryside around is lovely, and it is less expensive.”

He estimates that a two-bedroom flat in the town centre would cost around £120,000 to £130,000, while you could pick up a four-bedroom house for around £400,000.

This is good value compared to the rest of High Peak, the local authority area, particularly for smaller starter properties. Average flats sell for £167,000, up almost 14pc in two years, while houses are £295,000, up almost 12pc.

When Tara Pitten moved to Dartmouth five years ago, the town had a reputation as a haven for seniors. The pandemic has changed that.

“From the buyers that we register, it is young families who can work from home,” said Pitten, who works at Marchand Petit estate agents. “Everyone is looking for homes with offices and playrooms for the kids. Five or six years ago there were far more retirees.” Most of these incomers are moving from Hampshire, Surrey, or Birmingham.

Pitten herself relocated to the South Hams from Surrey and, as a 30-year-old, finds plenty to keep her busy, from sports clubs, a summer music festival on the beach, film screenings at the Flavel Arts Cinema, beach cafes, and restaurants and bars such as The Sail Loft, a hip venue with a roster of guest chefs in a circa 500-year-old warehouse building.

Parts of South Hams are likely to be prohibitively expensive for young buyers – the average sale price in yachting hotspot Salcombe is well over £1m. But across the authority an average flat trades for £324,000, up 10pc in the past two years. Average houses sell for £497,900, up 6pc in the same period, found Hamptons.

And despite its relatively high average prices compared to the likes of Weston and Buxton, the South Hams is appealing to an increasing number of younger residents – 17pc of movers into the area were in their 20s, found the ONS, while around a third were in their 30s and 40s.

This far eclipses incomers in their 50s and 60s, who made up 22pc of movers in 2022.

Folkestone & Hythe, Kent
When Toby Melville-Brown’s father moved to Folkestone in 2007, he and his siblings were united in their disapproval. “We couldn’t understand why he’d want to be there,” he said.

But Melville-Brown senior had a canny eye for property, and could see that the windswept and faded south coast resort was on the up.

Ironically it was Roger De Haan – whose family made its fortune by founding the Saga group of pensioner-friendly companies – who kickstarted Folkestone’s renaissance. He has invested heavily in a new creative quarter with affordable spaces for artists and makers, and also owns a swathe of the seafront, which he plans to redevelop.

Melville-Brown junior, 35, is an artist and illustrator, and was living in Pimlico in London before taking on an artists’ residency in Istanbul. His father had died shortly beforehand, and when he returned to the UK in May 2022 he started thinking hard about where to go next. Folkestone, with its relatively affordable housing, thrumming artistic scene, and outside space, appealed.

“I really appreciate the topographic drama of the cliffs, the sea, Romney Marsh,” he said. “And there is loads going on here – there are a huge number of studios, there are always exhibitions, and it is a great petri dish of ideas.”

His father’s estate is still being sorted out, but when he has his share he plans to buy a seafront apartment and settle down. “Folkestone is in a golden age,” he said.

He points out that not all of the regeneration being planned is aimed at the young – there are, for example, plans to reopen the Folkestone Leas Lift, a funicular railway between the seafront and the promenade which will make the town more walkable.

“I think there are older people who are excited about the regeneration, because they witnessed Folkestone when it was on its knees,” he said. “But there are some people who will feel disenfranchised by all the changes.”

Julien Hunt, of Savills, noticed younger buyers starting to arrive in Folkestone after the launch of high speed rail from Ashford to London in 2007, which cut journey times to just under an hour. Buyers in their 20s and 30s made up 36pc of new arrivals in 2022.

“A large number of my buyers come from London, and since Covid they only have to be in the office a couple of times a week,” he said. “You get a lot more value for money down here – if I was young and in London I would certainly be doing the same.”

Hunt agrees that, over time, price growth in Folkestone will inevitably level off. But he doesn’t think it has peaked just yet. “It is still young and trendy at the moment – it is doing a Whitstable thing,” he said.

Average house prices in Folkestone and Hythe have struggled over the past couple of years, inching up by a couple of per cent thanks to rising interest rates. But, over five years flat prices are up 19pc to an average £205,000, and houses are up 24pc, to £382,000.

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