Controversial Things Harry And Meghan Have Done Since Leaving The UK

Meghan Markle didn't have many good things to say about life in the royal family. In her and Prince Harry's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan finally got to share details about her experience, including the toll it took on her mental health. One of the worst parts of all was the vicious media portrayal of her, especially in British tabloids. "I'm talking about things that are super artificial and inconsequential," she said. "But the narrative about, you know, making Kate [Middleton] cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assassination. And they knew it wasn't true," The New York Times reported.

Meghan said that "the institution" — the brand and business behind the royal family — did little to protect the couple and didn't make any promises to protect their children. So it wasn't a huge surprise when the couple stepped down as senior royals and moved away. They first established a home in Canada and later moved to California, where they moved into an 18,000-square-foot mansion worth $14.65 million. Life in California is better for the couple, especially since it's Meghan's home state and she and Harry can take advantage of Hollywood connections.

Their shift away from royal life has certainly solidified their independence. For instance, they took their own trip to New York City in 2021, where they promoted accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine. But while many of these post-royal ventures have been great, they've also done some controversial things since they left the United Kingdom.

Their private jet debacle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle faced some intense scrutiny early on in their departure from the United Kingdom around their use of private jets. Although there doesn't seem to be an indication that they own a private jet themselves, Forbes noted, they have certainly made use of those belonging to friends since they set up shop in North America. 

In August 2019, Meghan and Harry flew to Ibiza to celebrate her 38th birthday, The Sun reported, traveling by private jet. When they arrived in Los Angeles after staying in Vancouver, director Tyler Perry flew them on his private jet, Forbes noted. Again, the couple took one to visit Elton John with their son, Archie, under the premise that security is more effective when they fly private.

The issue with Harry and Meghan's use of these planes is their continued advocacy for environmental changes to tackle climate change. As Vanity Fair noted, Harry attended a climate change summit in Italy where he took off his shoes to speak about reducing one's carbon footprint, and yet he flew private to the event. Unsurprisingly, they've faced scrutiny for this apparent hypocrisy. Their claim that private jets are necessary for security measures also doesn't hold water. Ken Warfe, who served as a protection officer for the royal family, said that most of the royal flights when Princess Diana was alive were on British Airways, per Vanity Fair, which was just as safe and far better for the environment.

Their tax strategy in Delaware

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle faced backlash when news broke that — while they established themselves in California — they set up their companies in Delaware, due to that state's tax advantages. The Daily Mail broke the story in January, when it was discovered that Harry and Meghan had 11 companies in the state that's famous for limited taxes.

For starters, businesses established in Delaware do not have to "pay state corporate income tax," according to Gross Schuman. There's also "no tax on interest" or other revenue that comes from investments and, significantly for Harry and Meghan, there's no inheritance tax. It's not uncommon for major corporations to form a subsidiary in Delaware to take advantage of these tax benefits, and it turns out that Harry and Meghan did the same thing.

The company behind Meghan's children's book, "The Bench” — called Peca Publishing, LLC — is one such company. Another company linked to them is Orinoco Publishing, LLC, which is rumored to "hold the rights for Harry's" pending memoir with Penguin Random House. Their charity, Archewell, also has ties to Delaware, as the logo is affiliated with the company Cobblestone Lane, LLC, according to the Daily Mail. The names of the companies all have sentimental value to Harry and Meghan. "Peca" means freckle for Meghan, who has spoken about her own, while Orinoco harkens back to Princess Diana's favorite song, "Orinoco Flow" by Enya. 

Their Spotify comments

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined the list of entertainers on Spotify who complained about Joe Rogan's podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience," and information shared there about the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine. "Since the inception of Archewell, we have worked to address the real-time global misinformation crisis," a rep for the foundation told Today. "Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day." The statement added that Harry and Meghan "began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform."

Royal commentator Neil Sean called out the couple for their willingness to criticize the platform but not pull their company, Archewell Audio, from Spotify, like other personalities had done. Sean said, "Legendary singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell and Neil Young have decided to pull their product from the platform simply because they said they don't agree with a certain element of it."

He pointed to Harry and Meghan's financial dependence on Spotify. "It's interesting because you can only really do things like that when you are an international success when you're worth millions of pounds so you can make these grandiose statements." To make matters more complicated, Harry and Meghan have yet to deliver on their podcasts for Spotify. They were slated to launch in 2021, per Today, but nothing has materialized except for one episode in December 2020.

Harry and Meghan's lack of expertise

While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seem adamant about championing various causes, their enthusiasm and outspokenness hasn't always sat well with audiences. When they visited New York City to promote the COVID-19 vaccine and visit schools, as well as the United Nations, royal biographer Angela Levin called them out for addressing issues on which they have no authority, instead using their power of celebrity to give them gravitas.

"The three day visit felt like the launch of a woke alternative to the Royal Family that we have in the UK," Levin said, according to The U.S. Sun. She pointed out that "the reality is they are not experts about COVID-19 or climate change." The complaint among people was, as Levin surmised, that Harry and Meghan were using their fame as a form of expertise on subjects which they otherwise had no formal training.

Harry and Meghan got called out for another subject, as well. During their interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan spoke about a racist individual in the royal family without naming the person. But as royal biographer Richard Eden pointed out, her statement simultaneously created hatred for the royal family. "I genuinely worry that Prince Harry and Meghan's criticism of unnamed 'racist' royals has increased the danger of attacks on the Royal Family. Security needs to be stepped up as a result," he tweeted. His comment sparked some controversy, but Harry and Meghan certainly get called out for many of their statements.

Their foundation, Archewell, has been under fire

Following their departure from royal life, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle launched their charitable foundation, Archewell, named after their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. According to its official website, the goal of Archewell "is to uplift and unite communities — local and global, online and offline — one act of compassion at a time."

While this is a great goal, the foundation made headlines at its inception for its slow and sometimes lagging launch, much like their podcast on Spotify. As royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told Express in July 2021, "What they decide to do, to enlarge their [brand], Archewell hasn't really managed to get off the ground because of the pandemic." In 2020, its first year, Archewell raised less than $50,000, the Daily Mail noted, and the couple had to spend more than that on the legal fees required to establish the foundation, to the tune of $55,600. They were also slow in producing content on its website but, again, the coronavirus pandemic could have prohibited a rapid launch.

The foundation has an even more loaded history, given that Harry and Meghan created Archewell after cutting ties with Prince William and Kate Middleton and the foundation they shared together as a foursome. Difficulty hit again in March 2021, according to News 24, when Catherine St-Laurent, the foundation's executive director, quit after 11 months. St-Laurent's departure was a huge loss, as she had previously worked with Melinda Gates on her project, Pivotal Ventures.

The crisis around their Netflix deal

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made another huge deal after leaving the United Kingdom. In September 2020, they united with Netflix in a "multi-year deal ... to create original content including documentaries, movies, series and children's programming," according to Us Weekly, under the name Archewell Productions. Sounds like a major undertaking. 

An insider said, "Harry's always had a creative streak [and] Meghan's inspired him to take it to the next level," adding that he couldn't capitalize on this as a royal, but since his departure, he took advantage of the opportunity. Their Netflix deal was apparently worth close to $100 million, so it's no chump change. Harry spoke candidly about his finances with CBS News after leaving the royal family, noting that they cut off all financial support for the couple. "I've got all my mom left me and without that we would not be able to do this," he said of his inheritance from Princess Diana.

And it was in light of Diana that people started suggesting that Harry and Meghan pull their Netflix deal after its portrayal of her in "The Crown," especially its pending season that chronicles her death. A friend of Diana's, Jemima Khan, actually pulled out of the Netflix project after initially offering to help capture Diana's last years, according to the National World, because the streaming network didn't tell her story "as respectfully or compassionately as she had hoped."

Harry got pranked

Prince Harry went through an embarrassing moment while residing on Vancouver Island in Canada shortly after he and Meghan Markle first left the United Kingdom. Russian pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, more casually known as Vovan and Lexus, got through to Harry while he was in Canada and pretended to be activist Greta Thunberg and her father, Svante Thunberg, according to The Guardian, hoping to speak to Harry about climate change. 

Vovan and Lexus called twice, once on December 31, 2019, and again on January 22, 2020, and Harry fell for it. On the calls, he opened up about how challenging life was for him and — especially — Meghan, after the relentless media scrutiny she faced. As such, Harry justified their use of private jets, The Telegraph noted, stressing their need for security and claiming that commercial flights wouldn't be as protected. Harry said that "marrying a prince or princess isn't all it's made up to be." Apparently not!

Naturally, considering Harry thought he was talking to Thunberg, the prince brought up climate change and criticized then-President Donald Trump's stance on the situation. Thunberg must be quite an inspiration, because Harry told the "activist" that she had the capacity to "reach into his soul and get him to feel." Obviously, the situation was super awkward once it aired that Harry got pranked and he wasn't talking to Thunberg. It would certainly act as a motivation for enhanced telephone security. How did those pranksters get his phone number?

Meghan's post-royal wardrobe says a lot

Wardrobe restrictions were a big thing when Meghan Markle was dressing as a member of the royal family, and fair enough, because sartorial rules for the royal family are intense. Bright nail polish is a big no, as are wedges, Vogue noted. Modesty is another mantra, meaning that skirts and dresses can't be too short and tops can't be too low. But the acquiring of clothing comes with its own set of rules, too. A member of the royal family may not accept free clothing. If a designer sends items, the royals pay for what they keep.

For an actor like Meghan coming into this world, that would certainly be a lot to juggle, on top of vitriolic media surrounding her and the endless stress that comes with that. And a big part of the media frenzy was nitpicking Meghan any time she seemingly "broke" royal protocol with her outfits.

Since leaving the royal family, Meghan has freed up her fashion, her clothing choices brighter and less conservative. For example, when she and Prince Harry appeared at the Salute to Freedom in New York in November 2021, she wore a cherry red Carolina Herrera dress with a plunging neckline, Honey Style noted. At the Global Citizen Live event in New York in September 2021, she wore a white mini-dress. And in October 2020, when she appeared virtually for Forbes' Most Powerful Next Gen Summit, she wore a spaghetti strap Tracy Reese dress.

Prince Harry's unexpected appearance at a Texas rodeo

Prince Harry surprised everyone when he showed up at the Stockyards Championship Rodeo on March 5, at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, according to Town & Country. Harry definitely dressed for the part, wearing a cowboy hat and casual clothing, while mingling with other guests. Royal biographer Omid Scobie jumped on Twitter to write, "Living his best American life. Prince Harry was in Fort Worth, Texas this weekend and spent Saturday at the historic [Cowtown Coliseum] for the famous [Stockyards Rodeo.] The duke was spotted by locals enjoying some good ol' Southern hospitality and a VIP tour of the venue."

Perhaps most hilariously of all, no one was entirely clear why Harry attended the event. The local Fort Worth newspaper published a statement from the event's producer that offered no information, deliberately. "As you can imagine we have many guests here at the Stockyards for all of the wonderful Western sporting events that we host," they said. "However, just as we respect the privacy of our everyday fans that attend, we also respect the privacy of those of a high-profile nature as well. Thank you for your understanding."

Who knows? Maybe after a life of royal duty and prim social manners, Harry just wanted to relax and enjoy some of the best of the Wild West. After the glamor and ceremony of events like the Royal Ascot, maybe a good ol' Texas rodeo was just what the doctor ordered.

Meghan's appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Meghan Markle was a guest star on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in November 2021, where she chatted on stage with the comedian and pranked vendors, with DeGeneres talking to her in an earpiece. The pranks were filmed and aired during her episode. She did genuinely seem like a good sport and had lots of fun with the unsuspecting vendors.

But Meghan's appearance wasn't viewed as a positive thing by everyone. Royal commentator Neil Sean spoke about the negative reactions, according to Express, and said that the backlash has left Meghan deeply embarrassed. ​​"Meghan is apparently taken to indoors as we say over here in the U.K. because she's so upset about the backlash she received after appearing on the show," Sean began. "Even Prince Harry thought this was a good idea to show her fun side. Perhaps they should have gone on together, how fun that would have been. Sadly for Meghan, it didn't come out that way."

Many viewers commented on the video of Meghan on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, saying that the pranking seemed disrespectful of the vendors, who had no idea they were in on a joke. "So much [for] the privacy and respect for hard working people," one person wrote. "What a humiliating experience for the vendors." Another said, "I know that these pranks are supposed to be funny, but they really are cringeworthy." That definitely didn't go as planned!

Their New York trip was met with criticism

There was a lot of controversy over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's tour of New York City in September 2021. While they used their visit to bring awareness to the COVID-19 vaccine and the cause of climate change, their trip to the Big Apple rubbed people the wrong way. Many felt Harry and Meghan crafted their visit to appear like a royal tour, which would be strange and contradictory, since they stepped down from being working royals.

Twitter user @UKRoyalTea commented on a post about Harry's "engagements" in New York and said, "Can the media please stop calling these 'engagements,' which makes it seem like he is still conducting official royal business, and start using 'appearances' which is what celebrities do?" Another Twitter user wrote, in part, that the couple was attempting to make "a royal court in America" through their New York visit.

There was another element to the trip that people struggled with. Royal biographer Angela Levin told The U.S. Sun that the couple visited a school in Harlem but the tone was uncomfortable for some. Meghan arrived at the school wearing an outfit worth over $7,000 and promoted her children's book, "The Bench," while the students she was speaking to were well over the book's targeted age, being closer to 11 years old. In Levin's opinion, at least, the visit felt more like a promotional tour for her book rather than a genuine moment of connection with the students.

Queen Elizabeth has yet to meet her great-granddaughter

Queen Elizabeth II has yet to meet her great-granddaughter, Lilibet, as of this writing, even though she's her namesake. Many royal sources concluded that the meeting hasn't occurred because of the ongoing rift between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the royal family. Royal biographer Brian Hoey was quoted by the Daily Express saying that the queen "desperately" wants to meet Lilibet, (via Newsweek). "I think she would love to, I wonder whether it is going to happen, I would love to think it could," Hoey stated. 

To make matters even more challenging, Harry is not planning on attending the Service of Thanksgiving for his late grandfather, Prince Philip, according to the Daily Mail, because his level of security has changed since leaving the royal family. However, Harry still plans on flying to the Netherlands in April 2022 for the Invictus Games, so the deliberate avoidance of his grandfather's service feels like a slight on the family.

Richard Fitzwilliams, another royal biographer, told The Sun that Harry's security concerns were legitimate but that it was a huge shame, considering the queen's request to meet her great-granddaughter. Many hoped Harry, Meghan, and their kids would attend the event. "If they don't bring Lili over, then obviously that won't happen," Fitzwilliams said. "It's all something that's clearly not going to be resolved in the foreseeable future. And it doesn't seem like they're going to come over." Clearly, some healing still needs to occur.

Experts say they should do one specific thing to win back favor with the UK

Things didn't end so well in Britain when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left the royal family, and their approval has continued to plummet. JL Partners conducted a survey for the Daily Mail in early 2022 and the results revealed that Harry and Meghan, along with disgraced royal Prince Andrew, were the only members to drop in public opinion.

This is the first time Harry was in the negative in terms of United Kingdom approval, while Meghan has been in "the red" before, though her numbers have dropped even lower. Harry was at -13 points and Meghan at -30. The reason for the public's negativity towards Harry and Meghan was that people felt they "had not given the Queen enough support over the last year."

In light of this negative polling, many wondered if Harry and Meghan would visit England in 2022 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, as she is "the first British Monarch" to ever reach that milestone. Royal correspondent Jonathan Sacerdoti told Express how much it would help. "I do still say if they could come back and if they could not be front and center, keep it quiet, but just come back to help celebrate this milestone for not just the queen but for the whole country for British history," he explained. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's going to happen, due to Harry's concerns about security for his family.