Newspapers and columnists on both sides of the Atlantic have been withering in their commentary about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after it was announced on Saturday the couple will walk away from the monarchy.
News that the Sussexes are to repay the taxpayers’ millions spent on their Berkshire home, no longer use the HRH titles and stop carrying out royal duties from the spring made many front pages in North America, where they intend to spend much of their time, and the United Kingdom.
The New York Post splashed the ‘The Great British Break Off’ headline, adding Harry and Meghan “will pay back 3 million dollars in Megxit deal”.
Its celebrity gossip site Page Six described it as a result “gracefully crafted” by the Queen, with the title’s Canadian comment writer Isabel Vincent writing the Queen had shown she “wasn’t going to put up with any more nonsense” from the couple who “have behaved like two spoiled brats”.
She added that Buckingham Palace did not comment on who would be paying for Harry and Meghan’s security while they stay in Canada, writing: “I say let these new commoners pay the tab.”
By contrast to its New York namesake, the Washington Post was more sympathetic - focussing on the scrutiny the couple has faced from the British media.
Its take read: “The couple win their freedom from a palace-centric life of duty serving the queen as ‘senior working royals,’ which they found suffocating — especially the intense, often harsh media coverage.”
The New York Times’ Mark Landler also pointed to “a toxic relationship with Britain’s tabloids” as well as the American links with the “unusual deal”.
“However civil, the agreement codifies one of the most dramatic ruptures within the British royal family since King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry an American woman, Wallis Simpson,” wrote Landler.
He described Meghan as “a 38-year-old American actress with a mixed-race background who brought a breath of fresh air into one of the country’s most revered but hidebound institutions”.
The Wall Street Journal described the decision for Harry and Meghan to cease royal duties as a watershed moment for the royal family “which has long considered public service its foremost duty”.
Canadian outlet the Globe and Mail said the couple’s security costs are estimated at £600,000 annually. It noted comments from the nation’s prime minister Justin Trudeau this week who said security costs were “part of the reflection that needs to be had and there are discussions going on”.
In the UK, the commentary was less forgiving. Most Sunday newspapers had the story on their front page, with the Sunday Mirror reporting the Queen had ordered ‘a hard Megxit’, while the money spent on renovating Frogmore Cottage being repaid was seen by the Sunday Express as ‘Freedom… at a price’ and The Mail on Sunday as ‘The price of Megxit’. The Sunday Telegraph said the couple have been ‘cast out’.
The commentary was much harsher still. Camilla Long, in the Sunday Times, blasted the couple’s decision - arguing it is the people working in the Grenfell soup kitchen visited by Meghan this month who the public should feel most sorry for.
“You know who the real victim in this whole Harry and Meghan thing is? It isn’t Harry or Meghan, however much these fey children tell us they’ve had their spirits ‘crushed’ by the sheer number of palaces and diamonds and footmen we’ve flung at them,” wrote Long.
“It isn’t us, even though we’ve had the stupidity to pay this pair of oxygen thieves more than £60,000 a day, if you take into account the £32m wedding, the £2.4m cottage renovation, the security and fripperies and Meghan’s dresses, for the privilege of being patronised and dissed to our faces by them, since they married in May 2018.
“It’s the poor, sweet, benighted ladies of the Grenfell soup kitchen I feel sorry for, who have been repeatedly duped into smiling and nodding as the duchess sweeps in to pretend to cook rice on yet another of her many content-gathering missions.”
The Sun quoted Alastair Bruce, an expert on royal protocol, as saying the Queen had brought “down the iron fist of monarchical leadership”: “She has made it very clear that the royal status, the princely status, should be dissolved.”
Similarly, a tweet from broadcaster and columnist Piers Morgan suggested the Queen had told Meghan and Harry to “sling their part-time royal hook”.
“Well done, Your Majesty, right decision. Only surprised it took her so long to get Harry to ditch his family, the monarchy, the military and his country. What a piece of work.”