Celebrity watchers ask: why has Meghan disappeared into thin air?

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Talking points

  • New details of King Charles’ coronation have been announced:
  • Take That, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Andrea Bocelli will perform for the King and a crowd of 20,000 people including guests. 
  • The free show will also be broadcast across BBC television and radio stations.
  • The few invited peers are reportedly upset they will not be able to wear traditional coronation robes made of lavish materials that have been used for generations. Their attire will be business-like suits.
  • The most sacred part of the ceremony, the anointing of King Charles, will not be broadcast in line with Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

London: There was a time, not so long ago, when the only way you could avoid the Duchess of Sussex was to turn off your radio and TV and cancel the newspapers.

If she wasn’t monopolising your Netflix account or your podcast recommendations, she was giving an interview to one of her US media disciples, writing a children’s book or collecting a humanitarian award.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, left, and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards Gala in New York in December.Credit: Invision/AP

Even when Prince Harry was plugging solo projects such as his mental health documentary on Apple TV+, the duchess could not resist popping her head into camera shot for another cameo.

But since the start of this year…nothing. Holed up in Montecito, California, the former actress, whom Americans still know as Meghan Markle, has made precisely zero appearances at official events (although in March she did release official photos from a trip to a Los Angeles organisation that supports homeless pregnant women), and Wednesday brought confirmation that she will not be at the King’s Coronation next month either.

In truth, it had been an open secret among friends in California that she never had any intention of being in Westminster Abbey to see her father-in-law crowned, but the Meghan-shaped absence from US society in recent months has nonetheless come as a surprise. What, then, is Meghan up to?

The answer, it seems, can be summed up in three words: planning, parenting and regrouping.

Prince Harry and Meghan in a rare photo with son Archie and daughter Lilibet.

Parenting is part of the reason Meghan decided not to go to the Coronation, friends have said, as it falls on the same day as Prince Archie’s fourth birthday. After initially saying the date clash would be a “factor” in any decision but not the “defining factor”, sources close to Meghan are now suggesting it was “the main reason” for her non-attendance.

Harry and Meghan have always insisted they would put their children first (something Harry has repeatedly accused the royal family of failing to do) and Team Sussex is well within is rights to point out that Meghan, whose daughter Lilibet will be two in June, is simply making good on that promise.

More pertinently, those who know the duchess have left little doubt that for her, returning to the UK for major events would be something of a backward step. Having been through the trauma of Megxit (the couple’s departure from their working royal roles), the British chapter of her life is behind her, and in front of her all pathways are in the US.

Prince Harry has been criticised for revealing details of how the royal family operates behind closed doors.Credit: AP

Friends are also swift to suggest that portrayals of Meghan as a publicity obsessive person who uses the royal family as a tool to raise her profile have been proved demonstrably wrong by her decision to stay away from one of the most-watched global television events of the year.

They would struggle to deny, however, that the couple delighted in keeping the hated British media guessing over their coronation plans for months, even though the decision was taken as long ago as January.

The real intrigue over the duchess’s silence is to be found in what she is planning next.

Talk of her writing a book as part of Harry’s multi-volume deal with Penguin Random House is wide of the mark, the London Telegraph has been told (to the immense relief of the royal household, no doubt), and instead Meghan has been plotting her next move in the worlds of television, podcasting and blogging.

In the same way that Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip never quite got over having to abandon an upwardly mobile Royal Navy career when his wife Elizabeth became Queen, Meghan grieves for The Tig, the lifestyle blog she set up during her acting career, which she turned into “a really successful business”, in her own words.

Having quit royal life Meghan’s blogging ambitions are no longer constrained, and last month a patent application to revive the website was given preliminary approval by US authorities, meaning she will be free to reboot the blog at the start of June.

If the Duchess proceeds with the plan, Tig 2.0 will feature articles, interviews and photographs “in the fields of food, cooking, recipes, travel, fashion, style, lifestyle, the arts, culture, design, conscious living, and health and wellness”.

It would also provide “commentary on the field of personal relationships”, suggesting Meghan might see herself as an agony aunt to the rich and famous. Broken-down relationships in her own and her husband’s families have certainly given her plenty of relevant experience.

While their broadcast endeavours come under their Archewell brand, The Tig is owned by Frim Fram, Meghan’s Delaware-based company run by her business manager Andrew Meyer in Los Angeles.

Plenty is going on at Archewell too. Despite the tens of millions Harry has been paid by his publisher and by Netflix, the couple needs to keep on earning huge amounts of money to fund their lifestyle, not least of which is their multimillion-pound annual security bill.

Having bathed in self-pity to fill six hours of airtime for their Harry & Meghan docuseries, the couple is moving away from reality TV to dip their toes in fiction.

Archewell is understood to be looking to hire writers to develop ideas for romantic comedies and other feel-good programs, which has led to staff changes within the organisation, including the coming departure of internal content head Ben Browning. News is awaited on whether Meghan will host a second series of her Spotify podcast, Archetypes. Rumours also persist that her long-term ambitions lie in politics.

As for the regrouping element of her recent low profile, both she and Harry have been somewhat stung by the backlash in the US to their behaviour over the past year.

The merciless satirical comedy South Park dedicated an entire episode to the “Worldwide Privacy Tour” carried out by the “Prince and Princess of Canada” who crisscross the planet plugging the prince’s memoir while demanding privacy.

Harry’s decision to row back from his wife’s allegations of royal racism – originally made in the couple’s infamous Oprah Winfrey interview in 2021 – by failing to repeat them in his book have also left Meghan exposed.

One lesson she does appear to have learnt from her limited time as a full-blown member of the royal family is that time is a great healer; when the public turns against you, avoid further trouble and wait for the memories to fade. That, surely, is part of the reason for her absence from the coronation.

The good news for her fans is that she will emerge from hibernation in just a month’s time.

On May 16 she will attend the Women of Vision Awards in New York, where she will be presented with an award by the journalist Gloria Steinem honouring her as a “feminist, champion of human rights and gender equity, and global role model”.

It also describes her as “one of the most powerful and influential women in the world”. Like US President Joe Biden, who is also skipping the coronation, she may feel that masters of the universe are entitled to find better things to do with their time.

The Telegraph, London

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