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Penny's finally dropped for Prince Harry, can he and Meghan go on, asks royal biographer

The long-awaited book they pinned their hopes on, the one which would explain their actions, thoughts and feelings over the past couple of years, has been met with ridicule and, in some places, outright anger. Their dream charitable foundation, Sussex Royal, went into liquidation with the resignation of all its directors. Meghan’s lawsuit against a newspaper seems to be floundering. She lost the first round in the proceedings, and has been forced to pay £67,000 in legal fees.

Her attempt to preserve the anonymity of five friends secretly passing on selective information about her new life looks close to failure, too.

The couple’s lifestyle continues to be ruinously expensive, with the whopping annual bill for personal protection coming out of Harry’s pocket. 

And Meghan’s increased wealth since her marriage will now be subject to the scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service. She’ll now be asked to pay a small fortune in taxes.

If Harry starts to earn money in the US from lectures and personal appearances, as is his plan, he’ll have to pay US taxes.

Then again their earnings in kind – the loan of their Malibu house, the free flights on private jets – will also become subject to the draconian policies of the IRS.

As each day of their self-imposed exile goes by, they must wonder again and again whether they made the right decision in quitting Britain last November.

Back here, Harry found he’s lost the “power of royal” after lecturing the travel industry on how to adapt to the future.

He set himself up as an “ethical” travel expert with his new organisation Travalyst.

In his first video since the controversial Finding Freedom was published, on Wednesday, he made the opening speech in a virtual global summit on travel, urging the industry to “build back better” once the coronavirus pandemic has passed.

But former transport minister Norman Baker gave Harry a scathing put-down, saying: “I’m afraid his credibility on the subject is lacking over his own jet-setting, which undermines his case.

The message is fine, but the messenger is wrong – it’s like a carnivore advocating vegetarianism.”

One online critic accused the couple of being “entitled and seemingly tone-deaf to the world we live in today”.

A photo a few days ago of the couple clambering aboard a gas-guzzling six-litre Cadillac SUV drew a howl of disapproval from a wider circle of online royal fans.

Can Harry and Meghan go on like this? We have to understand that Meghan found herself out of her depth when she joined the royal circle and struggled to come to terms with the protocols which surround that family, hence her longing to return to more familiar territory.

But now, in his turn, Harry will find it difficult to stay afloat in a Tinseltown culture so alien to his own.

Crucially for Meghan, no studio seems to have stepped forward with the offer of a leading lady role, her hope and dream. If they had, we’d have heard about it. It would seem the all-powerful studio bosses look on the couple as red-carpet fodder, not as a bankable item.

In Britain, they were a powerful force. But when Harry walked away from royal duties he broke the magic thread which binds royalty to the people.

It’s taken a long time for the penny to drop, but Harry has discovered he is no king of the high seas but a castaway stranded on a desert island. 

Money worries, his dented global reputation, loss of friends, abandonment of all the things, places and people he holds dear – these are a high price to pay for a single mistake.

What this couple need more than anything is our sympathy and understanding.

• Christopher Wilson is a royal biographer



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