Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Princess Lilibet christening drama hints royal soap opera is far from over

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s daughter was christened at a private ceremony last week at their Montecito, California, home, senior members of the royal family reportedly missed the occasion.

King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton were all invited, but none attended, according to Peoplewhich broke the story.

The revelation is perhaps not surprising, as none of the four have visited Harry and Meghan in California since they moved three years ago, even though William and Kate were in the US for the Earthshot Prize ceremony this past December.

What is perhaps more interesting is that this detail leaked at all following years of trans-Atlantic briefing wars between the royals.

People broke the news that the christening had taken place with a comment from a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan, though it is not clear who told the magazine about the royal invitation.

Needless to say, it prompted some in Britain to interpret posts on the palace’s Twitter account as a possible explanation for their absence.

The Royal Family account posted a list of recent activities by the four, prompting the Daily Mail to run the online headline: “Is THIS why Royals didn’t attend Lilibet’s christening? Royal Household puts out tweet pointing out all the public engagements involving Charles, Camilla, Kate and William last week.”

While the tweet did come hours before the christening, it is also routine for the royals to share highlights of their activities on a Friday, so perhaps the post should not be overinterpreted.

More to the point, though, it has been just two months since the release of Harry’s memoir, Save, which appeared to squeeze every last drop out of the royal soap opera. The book had extraordinary commercial success but inflicted significant reputational damage on Harry and Meghan in the process.

even dr Gabor Maté, a trauma specialist who interviewed Harry for a Q&A put on by publisher Penguin Random House on March 4, told viewers he was not personally interested in the royal psychodrama.

Needless to say, their conversation did include some swipes at the royals, as Maté himself compared royal parenting unfavorably to the animal kingdom. “You know, animals hug their kids,” he said.

Meanwhile, Harry said he was a good candidate for the British army because the forces like to recruit from broken homes.

After the public relations blitz around Save caused Harry and Meghan’s US popularity to crash, Edward Coram James, chief executive of PR agency Go Up, told Newsweek that Harry and Meghan should stay out of the limelight to let their reputations recover.

Harry dropped 40 points in polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, while Meghan dropped 40 points, making them both less popular in the US than Prince Andrew.

At the time, Eric Schiffer, chair of Reputation Management Consultants, told Newsweek: “Harry and Meghan built a brand on benevolent inspiration focused on the environment, equality, mental health. And in the last 30 days Harry chose to go negative in a ‘professional victim’ way that has destroyed this sentiment and created carnage for this elegantly positive brand that he had built in America.

“The backlash largely comes from the cognitive dissonance created when you build a brand on a positive foundation and then you turn it into a missile aimed not at a third party enemy but at your father and your brother,” Schiffer said.

Yet just two months later, tensions seem to be flaring again. Coram James now says he does not believe the Sussexes have it in them to repair their own image. “I just think that their credibility at this point is pretty shot, and it is going to be very, very, very difficult for them to climb back,” he told Newsweek.

“It would take a very targeted, long-term, long-vision campaign to win it back, and from everything I’ve seen so far, they just don’t have the discipline to be able to do that,” Coram James said .

A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said Wednesday: “I can confirm that Princess Lilibet Diana was christened on Friday, March 3, by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Rev John Taylor.”

On Thursday, the spokesperson added: “The children’s titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became Monarch. This matter has been settled for some time in alignment with Buckingham Palace.”

Jack Royston is the chief royal correspondent at Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s daughter was christened at a private ceremony last week at their Montecito, California, home, senior members of the royal family reportedly missed the occasion.

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