Why Royal Experts Think Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Africa Trip May Make or Break Their Royal Future

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently finished their royal tour of southern Africa, and this is not like many other royal tours we have seen in the past. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been on the receiving end of much criticism recently, which leads many people to believe that this trip was crucial for their image. Can Prince Harry and Meghan Markle turn their reputation around?

The recent criticism Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have received

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry visit the British High Commissioner's residence.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Samir Hussein/WireImage

Critics have found a lot of things to be mad at in the past year. Prince Harry and Markle have been lambasted for living too lavishly as royals who rely on taxpayers’ money. They were criticized for spending $3 million on renovations for their new home. Markle was also slammed for having an extravagant wardrobe and two baby showers.

Recently, the couple came under fire again when they took four private jet rides in less than two weeks. Both Prince Harry and Markle are known to be environmental activists, so their decision to use gas-guzzling private jets did not sit well with other people. They were called “hypocrites,” among other things.

Why the Africa tour is important for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

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Last night, The Duke of Sussex attended a fundraising concert for Sentebale in the stunning grounds of Hampton Court Palace. @Sentebale was founded by The Duke of Sussex and Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso in 2006 to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi. The charity is one way in which both Princes’ are able to keep their mothers’ legacy alive. Sentebale means “Forget me not” in Sesotho. Last night’s concert featured singer-songwriter Rita Ora and spoken word poet George the Poet (George Mpanga), and many other talented artists. Thousands came together in a celebration of African and Western culture to help raise awareness of Sentebale’s work in supporting children and young people in southern Africa affected by HIV. In the last 20 years, attitudes have changed as more people understand that the HIV virus is no longer a death sentence, yet there is still far too much stigma, discrimination, and lack of education surrounding the illness. Many people are afraid to access life-saving treatment because they fear what others will think. Thousands of children in southern Africa are living in incredibly challenging circumstances. Sentebale’s programmes not only ensure their basic needs – love, security and an education – are being met, but also provides them with the educational and psychosocial support they deserve. Since it was founded @Sentebale has supported hundreds of thousands of young people through activities including monthly clubs at local healthcare facilities and week-long residential camps. Support from the concert goes to the children of Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi, to help free the next generation of HIV by not letting stigma thrive off silence. To learn more about @Sentebale, please visit www.sentebale.org

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Because the trip to southern Africa came just shortly after their private jet controversy, it’s no secret that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are using this to try and improve their reputation in the media. The couple has reportedly hired an American PR firm to help with their public image.

“They and their aides know this tour has to be a success,” a source told Vanity Fair. “Everything has been planned meticulously so there is no margin for error.”

Royal expert Ingrid Seward also agrees that Prince Harry and Markle cannot afford to make serious mistakes on this tour. She said to Vanity Fair: “It will take more than a great tour to turn the tide completely, but if it goes well then it could be the start of a smoother path for them in the press. There’s a lot riding on the tour and the feeling is it really has to go well for the couple.”

How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle used the Africa tour to their advantage

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Spotlight on: Smart Works We are proud to be supporting a very special initiative this autumn for @SmartWorksCharity! After quiet visits to Smartworks over the last year, The Duchess was moved by the impactful work being done by this non profit organisation that helps women into the workforce, equipping them with both the skills and clothes they need to feel job-ready. Throughout her visits she noticed that while the donations were plentiful, they were also notably a combination of mismatched items and colours which weren’t always the right stylistic choices or sizes that didn’t necessarily “suit” the job at hand: to make a woman feel confident and inspired as she walked into her job interview. As a result, launching this autumn, The Duchess will be supporting a collective to help equip the women of Smart Works with the key workwear essentials they need as they enter into the workplace. This initiative is supported by four generous brands who share the vision to empower the women of Smart Works to look and feel as they bravely venture in to what can often be a daunting environment for those who have been out of the job market. The brands have come together to work towards this united force for good, “[reframing] the idea of charity as community,” as The Duchess writes in a piece for this month’s British Vogue. They will follow the 1:1 model where an item from the collection purchased is an item shared with a woman of Smart Works because “not only does this allow us to be part of each other’s story; it reminds us we are in it together.” For more information on how you can be part of another woman’s success story visit @smartworkscharity. Special thanks to: @JohnLewisandPartners, @MarksandSpencer, @MishaNonoo, @InsideJigsaw for supporting this very special organisation. And to find out more, read the September issue of @BritishVogue and stay tuned for more exciting updates this autumn. Photo©️SussexRoyal

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On their Africa trip, the couple seemed serious about maintaining a down-to-earth, relatable image in the press. First off, they flew from England to South Africa on a commercial flight. They also flew with British Airways, which is often the preferred choice for traveling royals.

Sources close to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan also shared that they are dropped formalities on the tour. Instead of having people address them with their titles and “Sir” or “Madame,” everyone was free to address the royals by their first names. An insider said that this is because they “want minimal fuss, formality, and protocol, and will instead roll up their sleeves and get to work with projects that mean something to them.” They also seem to find it important to connect deeply with everyone they meet.

It seems that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have learned a harsh lesson in how they present themselves, and they are making an effort to come across as humble, hard-working royals. Even before going to Africa, Markle showed that she was trying to change her behavior for the better when she went for a quick trip to New York.

Only time will tell whether Prince Harry and Markle can continue improving their image in the media and get their popularity back up again.