Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Africa Tour Could Make Them Popular Again: How Archie Is the ‘Key Player’

After a summer of harsh criticism, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may be poised to erase some of the damage done to their reputation as they travel to Africa. How will this royal tour do PR damage repair and why does Archie play a big role?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Africa
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Repairing the damage of a “summer of hostile headlines”

It’s been a rough stretch for Prince Harry and Markle, who have faced backlash about their requests for privacy and taking private planes while preaching about environmental causes. Things could be on the upswing for the Sussexes, however, according to Patrick Jephson, who was the private secretary to Princess Diana between 1988 and 1996.

Jephson believes the couple can repair the damage of a “summer of hostile headlines” and pointed to Diana’s anti-mine work in 1997 and Harry’s upcoming visit to the minefield. He wrote in the Telegraph: “More than two decades will separate the two images of familiar royal figures trussed up in visor and body armour, but beyond this similarity lie differences of royal style that tell us quite a lot about how Prince Harry is following in his mother’s careful footsteps — and how he is charting his own very different path through the minefield of public life.”

Jephson noted: “Harry, as we know, has inherited his mother’s gift for spontaneous charm. He’ll need every ounce of it during the Africa tour which he is about to lead, as it’s probably the greatest diplomatic test of his royal career to date. It’s also a test of his ability to repair the damage of a summer of hostile headlines.”

Charity should be a focus

The Sussexes will visit Africa from September 23 to October 2, with Markle and baby Archie spending their time in South Africa and Harry leaving them to tour Angola, Malawi and Botswana before reuniting with them in Johannesburg.

Jephson noted that Harry’s focus should be on the charitable side of the visit, stating that the prince, “at 35, he is, after all, the same age as his mother was when she took those steps onto dangerous ground in Angola. But it would be hard to think of a more hazardous minefield for an earnest prince than the world of celebrity American TV.”

He added: “The blurry line between royalty and celebrity doesn’t offer a clear path to safe ground. Harry, as a new father, will surely wonder how best to protect his family from the hazards of being a socially-concerned modern prince.”

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Today, we are excited to be able to announce details for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s upcoming tour to Africa! • In just two weeks, Their Royal Highnesses will embark on this official tour focusing on community, grassroots leadership, women’s and girls’ rights, mental health, HIV/AIDS and the environment. This programme has been many months in the making, and The Duke and Duchess are eager to focus their energies on the great work being done in Southern Africa. From meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to joining ‘Waves for Change’ on Monwabisi Beach, the South Africa programme will be educational and inspiring. The Duke is especially proud to continue the legacy left by his mother with her work in Angola as he joins Halo Trust again in an effort to rid the world of landmines. HRH will also travel to Malawi where he will check in on the British Army’s partnership with African Parks and will be working on the ground supporting local communities. The Duke is particularly proud to be able to deliver an exciting new initiative, a Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy three-country partnership which he designed and consulted with Governments in Namibia, Botswana and Angola to protect forest and wildlife corridors around the Okavango Delta. The Duchess will be working with local organisations to promote women and girls’ health and education, entrepreneurship and leadership. With such a textured culture and history, Their Royal Highnesses are grateful for the opportunity to connect with those on the ground in Southern Africa and to be inspired by the work being done and learn how they can be better supported. As President and Vice President of The Queens Commonwealth Trust and The Duke’s role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, The Duke and Duchess cannot wait to meet with young leaders mobilising change and adding to the beauty of these Commonwealth countries • “We look forward to seeing you soon!” • Photo ©️ PA images / Tim Graham – Getty Images / @Sentebale /@AfricanParksNetwork / @YouthAlert

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How Archie can play a part

The Sussexes are on their first royal tour as a family and including baby Archie on this trip can significantly help the couple improve their fallen popularity.

Royal expert and editor in chief of Majesty magazine, Ingrid Seward, believes that showing Archie to the public will be beneficial to improving the couple’s image, telling the Telegraph: “From a public relations point of view the Duke and Duchess really do need to show the people Archie.”

She continued: “He is the best ticket they have got for getting people to refall in love with them. People are very susceptible to images of children. I don’t see the point of hauling him all the way there only to keep him under wraps.”

Similarly, she told the Daily Mail: “People will want to see baby Archie who could be the key player in this. I think if they show as a glimpse of Archie it could turn things around for the Sussexes.”

She added: “It’s a small thing but it could end up being a very big thing in terms of better press coverage. They’ve had a tough run, this is a chance to make it better.”