The Sussexes' first major appearance since leaving the Royal Family was solely driven by a desire to promote their own image, a royal commentator has claimed.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their first public debut in New York this week, but their outing was a wasted opportunity according to columnist Daniela Elser.
The Duke and Duchess visited the Big Apple and kicked things off by visiting the 9/11 memorial and One World Trade Center on Thursday.
There they met with New York Governor Kathy Hochul, the city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, National September 11 Memorial & Museum President Alice Greenwald and Bloomberg Philanthropy CEO Patricia Harris.
But Ms Elser claims that despite the importance of visiting the memorial and organising a meet with several influential figures – the pair were only there to "sell themselves to the United States as royals".
"Wanting to pay their respects at the site where thousands of people lost their lives is one thing: Planning an event that involved two photocalls is entirely another," she wrote in her column for News AU.
Elser also highlighted that Harry and Meghan have "no diplomatic standing or roles" and no longer "represent the crown" and dubbed their visit as a make-shift royal tour.
She continued: "It is now 18 months since the Duke and Duchess arrived in the US and the Covid pandemic, along with Meghan’s second pregnancy, would seem to have delayed their ability to fully launch themselves onto the American market as public figures.
"This New York trip, however, can be considered the opening move in their campaign to establish their new, shiny Stateside public identities and to try to carve out a place for themselves in the national firmament.
"To take part in a visit with no clear or definable philanthropic goal aside from ensuring a volley of images making them look 'royal'."
The expert went on to comment on Meghan's change in outfits for the couple's next appearance at the UN meeting.
"The fact is, her switching up her (truly sublime) ensemble ensured that there were two sets of distinct photos from their day, thus potentially ensuring more press coverage and more sets of images for the media to pore over," she said.
"After only one day, it has felt less like a monarchical outing and more like a marketing opportunity.
"All of which is a damn shame."
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Meanwhile, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was also in the city and at the UN and on the same day as Harry and Meghan’s outings, taking part in discussions focusing on women’s digital financial inclusion in Africa, mentioned Elser.
She suggested that Meghan, who is an advocate for gender quality, should have joined Maxima and used her influential platform to bring attention to an issue that affects "hundreds of millions of lives."
She added: "That is the incredible power that Meghan possesses – a power that she is currently squandering while she and Harry take themselves off on their self-styled ‘royal tour’.
"After all of this, what is so strange is that when the Sussexes’ quit as full-time working members of the royal family they said they wanted to “carve out a progressive new role” and yet their new roles look curiously like knock-off copies of their old ones, all shaking hands with officials and posing for photos before it’s off to the next meeting.
"I’ll leave you with this thought: The US is also home to two other siblings of future monarchs, namely Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway.
"Neither spends their time trying to pass themselves off as something which they are not. Instead they are both women with jobs, families and charitable interests, all of which they manage to do without having to alert Good Morning America."
The Duke and Duchess have been contacted for comment.
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