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The Windsors’ Race To The Bottom: Why Prince Harry Is Less Popular Than Prince Andrew In America Now

In February, the month after the January 10 publication of his as-told-to autobiography Spare, Prince Harry has attained a goal previously thought unattainable by any other member of the British royal family: Harry’s popularity, expressed in negative numbers in a wide-ranging poll of the American public commissioned by Newsweek, is now lower than that of his uncle Prince Andrew, whose own retirement from the monarchy was caused by his decades-long friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

Significantly, in the Redfield and Wilton poll for Newsweek, the rate of decline in Prince Harry’s drop in popularity over the short amount of time since December, immediately prior to the book’s publication) puts the spotlight squarely on the book and on Harry’s own televised publicity schedule around the publication date. The numbers are: Harry’s popularity has nosedived by 48 points from December to mid-February, resulting in a -10 net approval rating. According to the poll, over the same period Meghan Markle managed to attain a lesser 40-point drop, but because she started out far less popular than her husband among the poll’s respondents, her downturn still resulted in a -17 net approval rating.

In fairness, although Meghan Markle cuts an impressive and beloved figure in Harry’s book, she was by design kept largely away from the intense publicity around it, ceding that spotlight to her husband. The clear message in her absence from the stage at his side was, Spare is Harry’s story to tell. In fact, Ms. Markle was largely absent from public outings immediately prior and subsequent to the book’s publication, so that it’s not as easy to discern the causes of her vertiginous drop other than to say, she’s joined at the hip with her husband, so her popularity would be similarly affected.

Any way it is cut, it’s an extended, specific, and steep downturn that the couple will be working to remedy in a variety of ways, namely — since they are now in the broadest corporate sense a formidably backed media and entertainment enterprise — with more of their trademark Archewell product. It’s not certain that Meghan Markle’s Spotify run will get a second season — the first was rather slap-dash, but there should be some Netflix product to roll out in the coming months.

What the couple’s hardworking public relations managers will be striving to parry with every feel-good philanthropic muscle in the Archewell portfolio, are the effects of the downturn in the couple’s popularity on their ability to develop, and sell, entertainment and/or meaningful media content.

On the social front, their poll performances will also have an effect. When it is time for it, their answer to the question of whether and in what constellation Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and/or their children, will be attending Charles’ coronation in May will matter. Whether or not their attendance would boost, or even slightly brake, the couple’s slide in the polls in America is also up for grabs, but the coronation does remain as the next big thunderhead of public events clustering on the horizon for British royal family, and thus for Harry.

Spare has had one other illustrative effect on Harry and Meghan Markle that will take some time to shake out. However Charles’ coronation works, or doesn’t, for the couple, it will be of increasing importance to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that they’re not seen as taking umbrage or ‘complaining’ about anything really, but very much including complaints about anything related to their ‘treatment’ by Harry’s family. Which is to say, the book, Spare, at its length and with its healthy sales, has assumed its own agency in the doings of Harry and Meghan Markle — in effect, it has become its own character, a kind of town crier for the couple. It’s out there, and it’s perceived as occupying its own ‘complaining’ space. They hardly needed an extra complainant on their side, but they have created one, and it’s got a life of its own.

At this writing, according to reports, Buckingham Palace has not yet issued any invitations, but it will be their response to the invitation — aka, how they will ‘handle’ the event — that will be key for the Windsors of Montecito.

Andrew’s popularity numbers in the U.S. provide some context. According to the Newsweek’s Redfield and Wilton poll, Andrew’s popularity rating stands at -2, or read another way, eight points higher than his nephew, and 15 points higher than Meghan Markle. That is remarkable.

It’s useful to remember the larger picture of Andrew’s legal and public-relations plight: His close friendship with former Epstein consigliere Ghislaine Maxwell; his documented stays with Epstein in the Epstein mansions in New York and Palm Beach as well as on Epstein’s private Caribbean island, Little St. James; his years-long game of hopscotch to avoid cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice in the Epstein matter; and even his settlement of the civil suit brought by his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre all added to a long, slow ride to the bottom in popularity numbers in the UK and in the U.S.

Bottom line: Given that history, the fact that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can’t beat Prince Andrew’s numbers in the United States should be cause for immediate concern.

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