President Biden's U.K. Visit Showed Us the "Trappings of Royalty" Prince Harry and Meghan Markle "Sorely Lack," Historian Says

It's hard to maintain the magic while abroad.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in black tie at a gala
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle generate a lot of headlines and commentary, and they're certainly popular, but as expatriated British royals, there's really only so much they can do, according to one royal historian.

For Tessa Dunlop, this was made abundantly clear by President Biden's recent visit to the U.K., when he met with King Charles, and showed that the American interest in royalty remains fairly intact despite some of the criticism the Sussexes have expressed about the institution over their years in California.

"Surrounded by pomp and ceremony, the visit was a reminder that the trappings of royalty are what sets it apart. And [those trappings are] what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex so sorely lack," Dunlop commented to the Mirror.

"After all, no matter how great your celebrity (and yes, despite what disgruntled Spotify bosses say, the couple are still big news), in America there will always be someone richer and more famous."

Here, Dunlop is referencing the recent news that the Sussexes' deal with streaming giant Spotify had ended, and some of the fallout that resulted from that, including Spotify's decision not to publish a supportive statement towards the duchess after they parted ways.

"Over there, fame is commonplace, not so the magic and mystery that comes with monarchy. As the Sussexes are discovering to their cost, royalty does not travel well (abdicated Edward VIII found this out in the late 1930s)," the historian continued.

"To really flourish more than titles and money are required. Harry, barefoot in a beanie, can't compete with William in full-blown honorary military uniform. Meghan in Valentino or Givenchy is less noteworthy than the Princess of Wales in her Lover's Knot tiara (once Diana's) and badge of the Royal Victorian Order."

Meghan Markle Archetypes portrait

(Image credit: Courtesy of Spotify)

If you consider the continued popularity of royal romance movies and books, and Americans' ongoing fascination with the Royal Family as a whole, it's not hard to see where Dunlop is coming from.

She concluded evocatively, "Tinsel, tiaras, and turrets are a big deal when it comes to America's love affair with monarchy.

"Charles is not just Harry's rich twice-married papa, he is the King. And yesterday, Windsor in all its blazing glory, was a reminder of that."

While we don't know what the future holds professionally for the Sussexes, there are definitely a lot of concerns being thrown around about where they can go from here. But I'm sure they'll figure it out!

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.