There’s not only been an emotional divide between the royals and Prince Harry and Meghan since the couple quit the Palace last year.
The families have also been separated by thousands of miles after the Sussexes set up home in 40-year-old Meghan’s native California.
But while America has been Harry and Meghan’s turf over the past 18 months, it seems they could face upset – with an official royal tour in the offing.
Royal tours to the States have been a regular fixture over the years. Harry and William’s late mother, Princess Diana, was a huge success when she danced with John Travolta at the White House in 1985, and her 1989 visit – during which she hugged children with HIV during a time when there was a huge stigma attached – saw her crowned the “people’s princess”, and loved both in the UK and the US.
Now, biographer Duncan Larcombe – author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story and who has joined approximately 30 official royal tours over the years – says that another visit to the US will be in the works.
He tells Closer, “A royal tour to the US is long overdue. They are our most important allies and there is a huge appetite for the royals over there. Royal tours take around six months to plan in secret, so it’s likely there’s one in the works to visit later this year or next, and my best bet is it will be William and Kate.
“It’s part of their royal duties to visit the States, so they’ll go at some point, whether it’s next year or the near future. Harry and Meghan have made the US their home and their target audience. So the prospect of William and Kate going over there will no doubt rock them.
“On every royal visit, there are crowds of fans coming to see them, and mass media coverage. And for that to happen under Harry and Meghan’s nose, on their turf – it will be very awkward for them.”
While then-President Barack Obama visited the royals in 2016 – and a picture of him meeting Prince George in his dressing down went viral – and while the Queen hosted controversial former President Donald Trump and his family in 2019, no one from the royal family has visited America since 2018, when Prince Charles went to Washington. Prior to that, Prince William and Kate visited in 2014, while Harry and Meghan represented the royals on a tour in 2016 – prior to them leaving the royal family.
Now, Duncan believes the next visit is already being planned in secret.
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It will come just months after Meghan and Harry’s bombshell Oprah interview in March where the couple alleged they had experienced racism, with a “senior royal” speculating about baby Archie’s skin colour before he was born.
Harry and Meghan also accused royals of ignoring Meghan’s cry for help when her mental health was so low she was having suicidal thoughts, prompting sympathy for the couple and threatening to damage the popularity of the royals Stateside. After the interview, a YouGov poll showed 61 per cent of Americans felt sympathy for them, compared to around 30 per cent in the UK.
Since then, the couple have furthered their popularity in the US by using their contacts to boost new charity drives, like Meghan’s 40x40 initiative for her birthday, as well as supporting climate change campaigns and a worldwide Covid vaccination programme.
However, they’ve also faced criticism after signing a series of multi-million-pound deals with Spotify, Apple TV and Netflix – and more recently an ethical investment firm – with experts believing they could become billionaires in the next year.
Royalists have also hit out at them for using their royal titles “when it suits them”, while also having the freedom to make a fortune in investments. And in a poll taken in the US recently, it seems Harry and Meghan’s popularity has taken a hit, with 63 per cent of American’s viewing Kate favourably against 57 per cent for Meghan.
Last week, Meghan again came under fire from her own family, with her half-brother Thomas saying during his stint on Australian Big Brother that she had “walked all over” her ex-husband Trevor Engleson, then dumped him, adding, “Harry’s on the chopping block next.”
And Duncan believes the next royal visit to the US will be significant. He says, “This will be an important visit, as Meghan and Harry have done damage to the US perception of the royals.
“This tour to the States really has to be a success, so I imagine William and Kate will front it. They are the most popular members of the royal family – apart from the Queen, who no longer performs overseas duties.
“I was there on their 2011 tour to California, and Kate and Wills went down a storm. At the moment, it seems like they can do no wrong. They’ll be the royals’ best bet in boosting the popularity of the Firm in America.”
And Duncan says it’s a move that’s sure to anger Harry and Meghan and will do little to repair relations between them and the Cambridges, who last week visited Kew Gardens to discuss the planet’s future with school children.
Duncan adds, “I can’t imagine William and Kate will head to California to visit Lilibet and Archie. From what I hear, they aren’t currently on speaking terms, so I can’t see that happening any time soon.”
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Caprice: ‘The Cambridges are more popular there’
American model Caprice, who has lived in London for over 20 years, believes the Cambridges’ tour will be a huge hit Stateside. She explains, “I’ve been slightly concerned with how Meghan and Harry’s PR machine seems to have backfired. It’s only by their own actions that they sometimes come across as hypocritical, like taking private jets after preaching about climate change. I recently asked my mom – who still lives in the States – about how they’re perceived over there and she said nobody really cares about them. Americans are more obsessed with the Hollywood stars.
“I suspect Kate and William are far more popular over there than Harry and Meghan. I think Kate’s already won over a lot of people. She’s genuine, she looks great, her style is so spot on. I’m a big fan, she’s such an amazing woman and one of the biggest assets of the royal family.
“Meanwhile, everything with Harry and Meghan seems so manipulated and contrived. Kate and William’s trip to the US would definitely be a big hit.”