In May 2018, when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were married in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, mugs, cookie tins, flags, keychains and other items bearing the couple’s likeness were snapped up in souvenir stores. Then the Megxit happened. From now on, the couple in exile is absent in the shops. Pissed off, even disliked, the Sussexes are clearly not making money anymore. Report.
The tone is set as soon as you enter the neighborhood mini-markets. It’s impossible to miss the headlines in black ink that appear in capital letters on the front pages of the tabloids: “Expulsion of Harry and Meghan from Frogmore by Charles” thunders the Daily Mail, “Harry and Meghan enraged by their cruel eviction” claims the Daily Express. But in front of these eye-catching headlines, customers pass by with indifference, more preoccupied by the price hike than by the latest explosive revelations about the crown’s troublemaker. It’s been more than three years since Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle left the UK. A brutal decision, widely misunderstood, which has hurt the British. And the Sussexes’ constant criticism of the monarchy, on Netflix or in bookstores, has only added fuel to an already burning fire.
In the United Kingdom as in the United States, their popularity rating is in free fall. In London, when the subject of Harry and Meghan is broached, faces are tense. In Camden Town, for example, a popular district and tourist mecca, souvenir stores scorn the exiled couple. In the window, British flags, key rings or tea boxes with the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, but strictly nothing about the Sussexes. “Harry and Meghan?! It does not sell!”, says the owner of a store, yet real Ali Baba’s cave for all aficionados of the British crown.
Further on, in another store, same observation. Absolutely nothing in evidence about the royal couple. You have to go to the back of the shop, behind small figurines of Queen Elizabeth II in a colorful suit that greets without stopping, to unearth a plate of the smiling Sussexes, made during their royal wedding on May 19, 2018. Amount: 7 pounds, or less than 8 euros. This is the only item available on the shelf. “Go to Piccadilly, here you will find nothing. There is no demand,” concludes the manager of the place.
So we headed for central London to have the chance to get our hands on a simple mug bearing the effigy of those who seem to have become the black sheep of the crown. The souvenir stores are tens of square meters. Impossible, in this temple of consumption to the glory of Windsor, not to find Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. And yet! Pens topped with a crown, bells, trays, mugs, towels, aprons in the effigy of Charles III and Elizabeth II but nothing, strictly nothing about the parents of Lilibet and Archie. “We don’t like them here,” complains an employee who paces the aisles of the store nervously, “we only have a few requests from Americans and even then… Since the Megxit, we have nothing in stock,” he summarizes. The same is true in the four stores that follow each other in the direction of Leicester Square.
“Nobody asks for it!”
Last attempt in the city of Westminster, two steps from Buckingham Palace. Not far from the very chic five-star hotel The Rubens at the Palace, the Cool Britannia boutique is full of objects in the colors of the Union Jack. “We have many mugs with the members of the royal family,” replies the manager, desperately looking for a mug with the effigy of the couple from Sussex, “but Meghan and Harry… to be honest… nobody asks for one.” Suddenly, she freezes. A box of tea bags with the duke’s red hair on it catches her eye. In the photo, the Queen’s grandson appears in military garb, smiling on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. An official photo taken well before his meeting with Meghan Markle … Coincidence or coincidence?
At the London souvenir, then at the Majestic Gift, still no trace of the couple from Sussex. A last chance is coming with the official store of Buckingham Palace. At the entrance, all eyes are focused on the sublime collection in soft pastel colors imagined in tribute to the late Elizabeth II enthroned in majesty on the central display. But there was no mention of Meghan Markle and Harry. When asked if there was anything in reference to the Sussexes on the shelves, Michael nearly choked: “They’re gone, they don’t belong in the store!” The message is clear. Move along, there’s nothing to see. The Sussexes belong to the past.
Photo credits: bestimage