We Americans are fed up with Meghan Markle. It’s time for Brits to take her back

Say what you want about Meghan Markle (narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, out-of-touch) but her greatest misstep is one of missed opportunity. Despite the Duchess’s best efforts – her carefully-curated home goods line, that wanna-be state visit to Nigeria, a perfectly-plotted anniversary date night – barely one-third of Americans have a favorable opinion of Markle, far below Princes William , Harry and the Princess of Wales.

Armed with a new podcast deal and refreshed communications team, Markle is clearly continuing her relentless quest for relevance. But as the real royals in Windsor contend with double cancer crises, Markle has revealed herself as little more than the most infamous symbol of America’s high tolerance for low expectations.

No wonder Donald Trump has suggested Prince Harry could face deportation if he turns out the Duke lied about past drug use on his visa application. Harry and Meghan “broke the Queen’s heart,” Trump said during a lengthy interview with Nigel Farage in March. “I think they hurt her bad.”

It didn’t have to be this way. Long before marrying her prince, Markle clearly understood the power of public image and personal achievement. Despite a minor role in a minor television franchise, she managed to parlay her innocuous persona into a fairly impressive celebrity existence. With her crowd-pleasing blog The Tig, Markle was an early embracer of the “lifestyle content” craze that has made rich folk like Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Whiterspoon far richer. And she intelligently deployed her mixed-race heritage into a compelling, competitive-edge narrative just as America was embracing the power of identity politics nearly a decade ago.

For a nation consumed by representation, Markle – unrepentantly divorced and solidly middle class – represented the best of America: tolerant, multicultural, meritocratic. Sure, it’s unlikely she would have ever won an Oscar. But armed with style and that unassailable back-story, Markle was well on her way to securing official “somebody”-status – even if she was most famous in the sleepy confines of Toronto, where her show Suits was filmed.

Well-educated and supremely well-spoken, Markle likes to talk up those mid-level accomplishments and achievements. But ultimately, her greatest accomplishment will forever be becoming a Windsor. Indeed, despite aggressive efforts to rewrite the legacy of Queen Charlotte – whose supposedly mixed ancestry has been lavishly conjured in the Bridgerton series – there has never been a multiracial royal. And the last divorcee to marry a senior family member wound up in exile on the continent.

Markle, however, had achieved what many had assumed was impossible, diversifying a thousand year-old institution for whom change typically arrives via assassination or warfare. But six years on, both she and her prince have squandered what could have been a meaningful opportunity. It appears as if the Sussexes’ squandering shows no sign of stopping.

The problem for Markle is that she still believes in the power of her achievements long after she’s stopped achieving. She and Harry’s $100 million Netflix deal has delivered little more than a pair of self-serving biopics. Their equally ambitious Spotify tie-up resulted in lost millions and the couple being branded as “grifters” by one of Spotify’s own execs. As for the Nigeria trip, Harry and Meghan were apparently flown to Africa on airplanes owned by an alleged money laundering fugitive – unsurprising considering wherever they go they tend to live as big as possible while paying as little as possible.

If only they had remained in Britain. Not only would the pair be paid for living in a grand home, preparing traditional spreads, showing up at polo matches and embarking on world tours, Markle would have been doing work that actually matters. True, the spotlight would have been unyielding, the scrutiny possibly unforgiving – but is it any less so today, trapped, as the Sussexes are, in the simulacra of peerage while plotting out photo-ops?

As his ongoing Manhattan trial confirms, Donald Trump is clearly the last person to criticize the behavior of others. But unlike the Sussexes, who’ve never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, Trump is a prime example of opportunism done right. After all, despite his vulgarity and potential criminality, Trump managed to wind up in the White House.

As for Meghan and Harry – they’re idling in Montecito exile in an overpriced villa paid for by daddy while they wait for their next American Riviera Orchard drop. Perhaps it’s time to return to Britain where they could truly be useful, and where the opportunities afforded by Harry’s birth are ultimately far more plentiful.

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