Meghan Markle’s animated series has been dropped by Netflix – and the sacking reveals an uncomfortable truth for the Duchess.
When Meghan Markle, former Suit star, blogger and former designer of a range of mid-priced clothing for a mid-range department store, married Prince Henry Charles Albert David, she made history. Not just because she was the first woman of color to marry into the royal family or was Windsor’s oldest wife, but for a reason endorsed by Gloria Steinem: she was the first self-made millionaire to have made the unthinkable leap from civilian life. street at HRHdom.
Unlike Sophie Rhys-Jones, Camilla Parker-Bowles and Kate Middleton, the three Windsor wives who preceded her down the aisle, Meghan was a woman who had carved out a successful career and had the bank account to start when ‘she got a loan title and tiara.
Her decision to join the ranks of the palace was a 21st-century feminist reimagining of the Cinderella story. Now everyone is holding their copy of The female eunuch briefly in pride.
Fact? Good, because that’s where this supposed fairy tale takes a dramatic turn for the worse. Because the question we are asking ourselves today is the following: has Meghan’s American career totally failed?
On Monday, the news broke that pearlThe animated series the Duchess of Sussex was working on for Netflix, as part of the $140million deal she and Harry have with the streaming giant, has been axed.
Now, of course, the streaming giant canned a slew of big-name series last week, making the Duchess another victim of the company’s stock price woes. And yes, the company’s PR machine kicked into action saying they still consider Archewell Productions a “valuable partner.”
But widen the lens, step back, and a noticeable and disturbing pattern emerges: Virtually every one of Meghan’s various professional endeavors since decamping from royalty has been a bit of a failure.
In June 2020, it was announced that Harry and Meghan had signed up with the Harry Walker Agency for speaking engagements. Neither of them undertook any sort of conference event or corporate gabfest.
In September of that year, the Sussexes announced their megawatt deal with Netflix, worth an estimated $140 million. In the 21 months that followed, they only announced two shows, the animated one and a documentary about his Sports Championship for Injured Servicemen called The Heart of Invictus. Meghan’s series has now obviously been cut.
In December 2020, it was revealed that they had also signed with Spotify. We’ll get our first real glimpse of the Sussexes’ podcasting prowess in the coming months with Meghan’s misnamed debut Archetypes series, the announcement of which was met with about as much enthusiasm as Prince Edward showing up to give a pep talk at a young offenders facility.
Then there was The bench, Meghan’s first literary foray. A children’s book, it was published in July last year and the same month landed on the New York Times bestseller list for just three weeks. It basically made a brief stint in the publishing landscape before fading from sight.
In contrast, a number of other picture books on the list along with The bench in 2021, of which Dragons love tacos and The day the pencils stoppedare both still on the bestseller list now.
In September, Meghan still seemed to be doing her best to spark interest in the title, reading it to a class of schoolchildren in Harlem in full view of the press.
In October, she was still around, recording a YouTube video of her reading it, an effort that garnered 474,000 views. (In contrast, last Christmas’ Queen’s Speech was viewed 917,000 times and it might be one of the most boring things I’ve had the misfortune to watch.)
Then there was his landmark project for his 40th birthday, a charity mentorship initiative called 40×40. It was announced with a headline-grabbing video featuring Hollywood star Melissa McCarthy and a cameo performance from Harry demonstrating his juggling skills.
The launch garnered worldwide publicity and coverage only for it all to…go away. Talk about coming out with a moan not a bang. The news section of the Sussexes’ Archewell website has not mentioned the project since then.
The thing is, think back to the two years since Harry and Meghan landed on American soil to embark on their exciting new lives and the Duchess hasn’t notched a single discernible win or net success in a professional sense.
In 2020, the Sussexes were a hot property that seemed to have Hollywood, Wall Street and Silicon Valley at their feet and a huge fortune was theirs to make and take.
Sadly today the Duchess looks like a burst toilet flush.
“Meghan doesn’t really have a brand…You feel like she’s kind of grabbing everything that’s the kind of Twitter that cares about the moment,” royal biographer and insider Tina Brown said in an interview with the Washington Post Last week. “You know, it’s vaccinations, it’s Ukraine, it’s women’s rights, it’s okay, my 40th birthday, let’s have a mentorship program. Nothing’s really going anywhere for Meghan.
What seems increasingly clear is that even in the United States, Meghan could be a one-woman powerhouse, but that public obsession has remained extremely impossible to monetize.
And that brings us to a painful truth: Without her royal connections, Meghan doesn’t really matter.
Prior to Harry’s arrival, she had never appeared on a glossy magazine cover, had never been featured anywhere and had, according to the 2020 biography find freedomresorted to “occasionally putting up a paparazzi shot here and there or leaking information to the press”.
That all changed the minute the news broke that she was dating possibly the most eligible guy in the world. Then came the too brief royal chapter of the Sussexes, followed by their years of “freedom”.
The one thing Meghan did that really rocked the Zeitgeist in the past two years was the Oprah Winfrey interview in which she…talked about the Royal Family.
Separate Meghan from her Windsor ties and the question becomes: Does anyone really care?
However, this is also a question that applies to Harry as well.
Over the weekend, veteran British broadcaster and companion to Prince Charles, Jonathan Dimbleby, gave an interview to the Time and warned that, having left royal life, “they will become less and less important as a couple”.
“As she gets older, as he gets older, they’ll matter less because the celebrity they’re trading on will become less valuable.”
And therein lies the crux of the matter. What makes them so prized and marketable isn’t their creativity or their ideas for TV shows or their charitable zeal or them as individuals, but who their family is.
Brown recently argued that the Sussexes “both completely underestimated what it was going to be like to be without… the palace platform.
“They now have to deal with the offers in a way that anyone … who is a celebrity in [this] kind of universe without a platform has to do.
It’s a miscalculation that could cost Harry and Meghan dearly and the further they stray from the magic of royalty, the less dazzling and commercially appealing they look.
What is highlighted is the inescapable fact that it is their status intertwined with the current queen and the next three kings that makes them valuable to deep-pocketed corporate giants. Unattached to the monarchy, their luster and bankability are starting to look decidedly fragile.
The couple’s very literal fortune now rests on Harry’s memoir, which will obviously deal largely with life in the royal family, and his Invictus doco, a project he started when he was an active member. of the royal family. His biggest success in recent years has been the release of his mental health television series, The me you can’t see which began when he was still a frontline royal.
Like it or not, all moneymaking routes for Harry and Meghan connect to the royal family.
This gross understatement of the power of monarchy ties, Brown argues, is something Diana, Princess of Wales would never have done.
“She didn’t want to be out of the monarchy…She saw that the royal imprimatur was always going to be the best, you know, the lever, the best convening power to promote the causes close to her heart. I don’t know if she would have ever really advocated going to live in Montecito without any patronage and any platform,” Brown said.
In exactly one month from today, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations will kick off in London, and Harry and Meghan have yet to announce their attendance. Whether they want to see his family or not, some good old folks standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and waving to the masses seems like just what their careers – and their bank accounts – need right now.
Daniela Elser is a royal pundit and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of top media titles in Australia.