Royal insider ‘It’s ridiculous!’: ‘Meghan Markle and Prince Harry spent £250k preaching about poverty’

As their NYC tour ends, Palace biographer Duncan Larcombe tells Closer why the Sussexes’ extortionate spending could ruin their long-term ambitions

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by Lily Smith |
Updated on

They made a defiant return to the spotlight last month when they embarked on a tour of New York, visiting memorials, addressing huge crowds and meeting senior politicians and world leaders.

But while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle no doubt hoped their trip would hit the headlines, their visit – which included an appearance at the Global Citizen event to raise awareness of poverty and climate change – left the couple facing a heavy backlash for the extortionate cost of their visit, estimated at £250k.

During their three-day trip, Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, stayed in the luxurious five-star Carlyle Hotel. Meghan also had two outfit changes per day, with the cost of her designer garments believed to total an eye-watering £67,000.

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Meghan read her book at a school in Harlem – in a £4.2k coat ©Getty Images

The couple – who last year signed a £75m deal with Netflix and a £18m deal with Spotify – also came under fire for flying into New York on private jets and travelling around in chauffeur-driven SUVs – just months after Prince Harry said in his The Me You Can’t See Apple TV series that climate change is one of the “most pressing issues we are facing.”

The Duchess’ decision to wear a £4,200 Loro Piana cashmere coat during a visit to a primary school in the deprived area of Harlem, where she read her book, The Bench, to school children also angered fans. One wrote, “Wearing that when visiting a school in a humble neighbourhood. Proves how completely out of touch they are.”

They also came under fire for criticising “ultra-wealthy pharmaceutical companies” for not sharing the vaccines with poorer countries – while Meghan wore an outfit worth nearly £30,000. One person wrote, “Don’t preach about helping the poor when you live in a mansion with millions in the bank!!!”.

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The couple were in New York for three days ©Getty Images

Meghan – who previously hit headlines for wearing a £55,000 Ralph & Russo dress to announce her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017, and for spending £232,000 on her baby shower while pregnant with eldest child Archie, two – was also seen carrying an iconic Lady Dior bag, which was inspired by the late Princess of Wales. The bag also had “DSSOS” engraved on it, believed to stand for “Duchess of Sussex”.

And royal expert Duncan Larcombe – who wrote Prince Harry: The Inside Story – says Harry and Meghan’s contradictory spending and messaging may be their ultimate downfall.

He says, “It’s ridiculous for them to spend that amount on a three-day trip, preaching about poverty. Meghan visiting a school and wearing an outfit probably worth more than the children’s parents’ annual salaries was just so inappropriate. Their spending seems totally at odds with the message they are trying to get across. It’s impossible to expect people to listen to you preach about equality when you’re spending on that level.

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She carried the Lady Dior bag – named after Diana – during their trip ©Getty Images

“This trip shows that Harry and Meghan have huge goals for themselves. They made the decision not to be royals – yet they are still using their status for their benefit. They seem to be trying to create their own modern royal family. But they need to urgently make up their minds as to whether these new identities are focused on philanthropy or celebrity.

“They would be well advised to – above all else – practise what they preach. It’s textbook that someone who preaches that they want to save the planet should not do things like fly in private jets. They are losing credibility with their hypocrisy – how can what they say be believed? But I can’t see them giving up their life of luxury, as it’s what they’re accustomed to now.”

And Duncan says that the royal family, while also living lives of luxury, are careful to use their wealth “tastefully”, and are conscious never to be inappropriate with it.

Check out: the eye-watering details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's £250,000 NYC trip


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's NYC trip

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CREDIT: Shutterstock


Their flights via private jet – to and from New York back to LA – are estimated to have cost at least £150k. And their chauffeur-driven SUV journeys will have cost around £10k.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock


They spent three nights in the lavish Carlyle Hotel, where the top suites cost £4.5k per night – so they may have spent a whopping £13.5k on their stay.

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CREDIT: Getty Images


The couple's team – who have previously worked for pop megastar Taylor Swift – charge £3.4k a day, leaving them with a security bill of around £10k.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock


They took along personal photographer Matt Sayles, who has a day rate of £2.2k, which means the pair will have spent £6.8k to have him there.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock


Meghan's six outfits are estimated to have cost £67k, including a £3.1k Max Mara coat (below), a pair of £1.2k Loro Piana trousers, and a £5k Cartier bracelet.

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He says, “Yes, members of the royal family live in palaces and wear designer outfits. But we accept that because there is a pay-off – they live a life of royal duty in return. They also know there’s a time and a place for the glitz and glam – like the James Bond premiere last week, where, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore an expensive designer dress.

“But she’d never wear an outfit worth tens of thousands of pounds to visit a homeless shelter – the royals aren’t that ignorant. They know they have to present themselves with modesty, humility and relatability, in order for the public to accept the pay-off. Harry and Meghan haven’t realised that yet.”

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Eagle-eyed fans also spotted a wire hanging out of Harry’s trousers while he walked on his tour of New York, and later as he sat down at the school – which sparked rumours the pair had microphones and were filming for an upcoming Netflix documentary, as part of their multi-million pound deal.

And Duncan suggests the tour was done for self promotion.

He says, “Kate and William’s motivation is representing the Queen and serving their country, and their work is directed by The Firm. You would not see Kate promoting her photography book while working. Harry and Meghan aren’t working on behalf of the royals, so it seems that this is all self promotion. It all just doesn’t make sense, and I doubt it will to the Palace either. No one has any idea what their real agenda is. It’s yet to be seen as to whether they’re doing their work as a result of selflessness and philanthropy – or a result of money and big egos.”

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