Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams asks what use are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle now they’ve burned their royal bridges.

prince harry and meghan markle on stage

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are ‘surviving not thriving’, says expert (Image: Getty)

This is an unprecedented period for the Royal Family. It was most encouraging to see King Charles, whilst undergoing cancer treatment, at his first public engagement this week since his diagnosis.

He has also become Patron of Cancer Research UK to help raise awareness of this pernicious disease. It has been pivotal that regular sightings of the monarch, who has carried out his essential duties as head of state, have been arranged.

The Princess of Wales, having recovered from major abdominal surgery, is undergoing preventative chemotherapy to combat cancer. Her video message to the nation was surely one of the most courageous ever given by a public figure in Britain.

This followed a long period when there was no news about her condition and an embarrassing dispute over a photograph which she had edited. There is undoubtedly worldwide sympathy for her condition.

This is the background to Prince Harry’s visit next week to attend the Service marking 10 years of his remarkable creation for wounded service personnel, the Invictus Games, at St Paul’s Cathedral. He will, however, not be accompanied by Meghan Markle.

This would once have been unthinkable. However, she is wise not to attend. The Sussexes popularity in Britain is at rock bottom, the press, whom they excoriate, detest them and whilst monetising their royal links, they have been bitterly critical of the Royal Family. They have also undoubtedly harmed it, especially among the young.

Their infamous interview on Oprah, which aired when Prince Philip was in hospital, now seems stupefyingly selfish. It is Queen Elizabeth’s retort “some recollections may vary”, that sums it up best.

It was like launching a nuclear missile at Buckingham Palace, especially in the way the Sussexes played the race card.

This later came back to haunt them in the unsavoury controversy that followed the publication last year of the Dutch version of Endgame, by Omid Scobie, who used to be known as their unofficial spokesperson.

Meghan has discovered that she is 43 percent Nigerian and this Commonwealth country, new to the Invictus Games last year, may play host in future.

Their planned visit to Nigeria after the St Paul’s service makes perfect sense and also acts as a convenient figleaf to cover up her absence.

King Charles III And Queen Camilla Visit University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre

King Charles returned to public-facing royal duties on Tuesday (Image: Getty)

It is disgraceful their six-hour documentary for Netflix, “Harry and Meghan”, contained such bitter attacks on the Commonwealth. This was a betrayal of their former key positions in the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

King Charles has always kept the door open for Harry, who visited him as soon as he heard of his cancer diagnosis, though they met only briefly. They may meet again next week.

However, he clearly felt that the attacks on the Royal Family, including Queen Camilla, in his memoir Spare and in the interviews he gave promoting it, were unforgiveable. He rightly evicted them from Frogmore Cottage, their domicile in Britain.

At long last the Sussexes have strengthened their communications team. Spare was a best seller, but it not only made Harry an international laughing stock, revealing details of his loss of virginity and problems with penile frostbite, it unwisely included his experiments with drugs which could lead to problems affecting his domicile in America in the future. There were also foolish revelations about the number of Taleban he had personally killed.

In 2021 Time magazine included the Sussexes in their prestigious 100 List. Since then their star has waned, they lost their contract with Spotify and were labelled “grifters” by an executive.

Meghan has now joined the less well known Lemonada Media. So much rests on Netflix as their contract worth £80million ($100m) runs out next year and Meghan has just announced her “cooking, gardening, entertaining and friendship” series.

Harry will be helming a series on polo, but he may discover it is too elitist, his five-parter, Heart of Invictus, contained inspiring stories, but was overlong for a mass audience.

Meghan has just launched her pretentiously named lifestyle brand American Riviera Orchard. She sent pots of jam to select celebrities but received remarkably few A-list endorsements. It remains to be seen how appealing it will be beyond her fan base.

Harry’s war against alleged excesses by parts of the media continues and he has taken the witness stand with some success and may do so again. However, you have to ask, if he and Meghan were not royal who would they be?

Further attacks on the Royal Family are, for obvious reasons, out of the question. However the Sussexes support in America has been low in recent polls. It is their fault that the rift in the Royal Family, which they caused, will undoubtedly overshadow the 10th anniversary of Invictus.

Yet serious illness can be a healer and it would obviously make sense if the Royal Family was, at least superficially, united at this troubling time.

However, the problem is one of trust, at a deeply stressful time for Prince William, he is unlikely to want to build bridges with a couple who have behaved as dishonourably as they have.

Meghan has made much of her commitment to feminist causes since she was young, but has actually done little since she married. It is Queen Camilla who is campaigning against domestic violence and abuse and for a world that is safer for women.

It is the Duchess of Edinburgh, who has recently been to Ukraine to denounce sexual violence against women during war.

Meghan has really achieved very little in comparison. Perhaps she was just too ruthlessly ambitious to stay the course for more than a few months, as being a senior working royal did mean compromises and the spotlight can be ferocious.

The Sussexes seem to be surviving but not thriving. Harry has announced that the United States is now his home, but he might reflect on what might have been if they had remained part of the Firm and genuinely helped those in need, those less fortunate and those suffering ill-health. They are also not going to find that their behaviour over the last four years for personal gain has been forgotten.

Richard Fitzwilliams is a royal commentator, film critic and public relations consultant who has given over 1,500 television interviews. He was Editor of The International Who’s Who, the standard source of its type, from 1975 to 2001.