It was their first big engagement since the birth of daughter Lilibet in June, and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry caused quite the stir in New York last week. During their three-day trip to the Big Apple, the former royals were described as “hypocritical”, “out of touch” and “beyond greedy” as they travelled in gas-guzzling SUVs and private jets, were accused of trying to stage a royal-style tour, and Meghan was criticised for wearing expensive designer clothes and jewellery while visiting disadvantaged schoolchildren in Harlem – all while apparently filming footage for a new Netflix show.
Harry was seen with a wire running from his shirt to his trouser pocket, suggesting that he was mic-ed up, and they appeared to bring their own videographer with them, filming their every move. And we’re told that, although they were keen to do philanthropic work during their visit and raise awareness for good causes – meeting with top officials from both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation – they also wanted to make sure it was all on camera, so it can be used for upcoming projects, including a biopic about Megan’s life.
“They needed content for their upcoming documentaries, so of course footage from New York will be used. They signed a huge deal with Netflix, so they needed to make the most of this opportunity,” an insider tells heat.
“The network wants to get their money’s worth, but it’s also being archived, along with thousands of hours of other footage and items from Meghan’s life, covering her childhood, her acting career, her life inside the monarchy and now the current set-up with Harry. She refers to this as her special project, and it’s fairly common knowledge that she intends to use it to make a definitive, authorised biographical movie. Meghan’s a real squirrel – she collects everything – and that was the case from long before she met Harry. But what’s most important to her is keeping an accurate digital account of what she’s going through.”
During the short trip, Meghan wore a reported £67,000-worth of clothes and jewellery, including a £4,274 magenta cashmere coat with matching £1,231 trousers and £424 Manolo Blahnik shoes to Harlem’s Mahalia Jackson school, where 94 per cent of the students have free school meals.
She also wore a £5,000 Cartier “love” bracelet and a £566 belt as she read pupils extracts from her children’s book The Bench. As well as being driven around in a convoy of SUVs for the duration of their stay, they travelled to and from their Californian mansion by private jet, despite them both being very vocal about climate change. They also attended the Global Citizen Live concert, where they spoke about COVID vaccine inequality, urging world leaders to make it more available to poorer nations.
CHECK OUT Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's love story from the start
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met in London in July 2016.
“Every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine, but that’s not happening,” Meghan said. “It is wrong that so much of the vaccine supply has only gone to just ten wealthy nations and not everyone else, it’s just not OK.” Harry added, “Guys, we have what we need to vaccinate the world. My wife and I believe that where you’re born should not dictate your ability to survive.”
But their good intentions were met with a lot of criticism, with many claiming they were using their trip to make as much money as possible by filming it all. “Here they are lecturing everyone again, trying to be seen as saints, yet all they’re doing is raising their profiles more to try and make money. So greedy,” a commenter wrote, while another raged, “Making it all about them and their egos again and filming it to try and show how good they are.”
Others praised them for raising awareness of good causes – and we’re told Meghan, 40, and Harry, 37, themselves were prepared for the criticism, as they feel they can’t seem to do anything right at the moment. “They’re well aware that people are calling them hypocrites, but they insist it’s water off a duck’s back at this point,” our insider says.
“The way they see it is that whatever they do will be heavily criticised, so they may as well just do things on their own terms and ignore all the haters. As far as their modes of travel go, their stance is that there wasn’t much choice – it’s not as though they can just click their fingers and rustle up a fleet of eco-friendly limousines at the drop of a hat. They are adamant that they’re doing more for the environment and supporting climate action than most people in their position. Their whole business model and future message is geared around educating people about how to make the planet a better place, so it’s hardly fair for them to be held up as hypocrites just because they take a private jet or limousine from time to time.”
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The insider adds that the couple – who are also parents to two-year-old son Archie – are pleased that they filmed their trip, as it will give viewers the chance see what really goes on behind the scenes, as well as keeping Netflix happy. “Filming their trip proved to be very cathartic, because it’s given them the opportunity to show what things are really like from their perspective,” we’re told. “It gave them a real kick to have got so much great material, and they’re looking forward to building on it with footage from future trips.”
However, the source adds, “There were a lot of raised eyebrows in New York, and in Hollywood, too. A lot of people think that Meghan and Harry are trying to position themselves above most of their A-list peers. They seem to want to bask in their old royal status and enjoy all the attention and benefits that go with that, which is a turn-off for a lot of people. The feeling is that Americans are fond of Brits who are humble and not arrogant or hypocritical, so the Sussexes are walking a very fine line if they want to be popular in the US long-term.”
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