Americans No Longer 'Protective' of Harry and Meghan—Expert

Author and journalist Celia Walden has told a British news channel that Meghan Markle is viewed as a "figure of fun" in the U.S. after voicing her surprise that Americans do not appear to be "protective" or "defensive" of the duchess.

Walden is a novelist and has covered culture and the royals for publications such as the Telegraph and the Daily Mail for decades. She is also married to British broadcaster and outspoken Sussex critic Piers Morgan.

The author voiced her opinions on the Sussexes' stateside popularity in an interview with GB News host Dan Wootton, saying:

"When I came back [to LA] after the pandemic I thought that, you know, Meghan's one of their own. Maybe they're quite protective of her or defensive. But not at all. She's just a figure of fun out here."

American Attitudes to the Crown

Walden claims that Meghan has made a "crucial misstep" by misunderstanding Americans' attitude toward Queen Elizabeth II. She told Wootton:

"The crucial misstep that she made is forgetting that in California, and in the whole of the U.S. in fact, that people love the queen. And so anyone who's been deemed to have affronted the queen or behaved badly in that regard is not going to go down well."

In contrast to the claims made by Walden, many Americans have voiced their support of the couple.

A recent tweet by U.S journalist Stephanie Guerilus reads:

"America, in particular the Black community, have been so welcoming and loving to Prince Harry. The British Royal Family, monarchists and the press tortured Meghan Markle. Difference is so telling."

Performer Adore Delano tweeted in March 2021:

"Americans don't have royals; we have celebrities. We love Meghan with open arms & Harry is what a father should be. Thank you, Princess Diana for saving your baby."

Others called the family "California royalty" and welcomed them to their new home state.

But some pundits say Harry and Meghan's recent absence from the memorial service for the queen's husband Prince Phillip reignited claims that the Sussexes were snubbing their family members.

Ian Lloyd, author of The Queen: 70 Chapters in the Life of Elizabeth II told Newsweek this month that Harry's "failure to attend the memorial service for Prince Philip was quite a notable absence when you think he was the only one of the eight grandchildren not to make it...

"I think he needs to be aware that in America they quite like family values and so he would need to be aware that if he apparently snubs the queen by not visiting, I don't think it would go down well in Britain or in America."

The queen is due to celebrate her 96th birthday on April 21 and will also be the center of celebrations for her platinum jubilee this summer. Both are family occasions Meghan and Harry would be expected to attend, especially given that the monarch has not yet met her namesake great-granddaughter, Lilibet Diana.

Do Americans "Love" The Queen?

There is no data available on whether Americans "love" the queen as Walden said, but she does enjoy favorable poll numbers.

A survey conducted shortly after the Sussexes' March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey was aired in the U.S. suggests that Americans approve of the queen.

The U.S. poll taken by YouGov America and The Economist shows that the monarch achieved a 61 percent favorable response from participants making her the most popular British royal in the eyes of the American public.

The poll also showed that the Oprah interview caused a hit to Harry and Meghan's popularity in America.

Harry ranked as the second most popular royal behind the queen, but Meghan polled fifth behind the monarch, Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton in terms of favorability.

In the wake of the Oprah interview, Harry's 54 percent favorability rating constituted a net reduction of 14 percentage points in favorability over the year 2020. By contrast William dropped only 5 percentage points.

How Does Meghan Markle Poll in the U.S.?

Though an American herself, Meghan has consistently polled behind her husband in her home country. The 2021 YouGov America/Economist poll saw the duchess receive a 48 percent favorable response against a 33 percent unfavorable rating. This also constituted a net favorability reduction by 13 percentage points over results in 2020.

Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah sparked a backlash against the royals over claims of the duchess's mistreatment and an allegation of racism levelled against an unnamed member of the royal family. Reporting at the time of the interview suggests that the royals had a large support base in the conservative American public.

Conservative right wing think tank The Heritage Foundation released a statement reported by MSNBC read:

"The American radical Left has seized upon the claims from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, that the Royal Family created a hostile, racist environment for the couple. Britain's constitutional monarchy—among the most powerful conservative institutions on the world stage—represents everything the radical Left despises: tradition, authority, hierarchy, patriotism, and the political and religious ideals of Western Civilization."

In contrast to this, conservative broadcaster Meghan McCain told those tuning into The View that she was all in on supporting the Duchess of Sussex. She said: "I do not want to defend the monarchy... I'm a red-blooded 100% American who celebrates freedom any way I can... We have two American women, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey, who are single-handedly finishing what George Washington and our revolutionary counterparts did. I'm all for it."

The March 2023 YouGov America/Economist polling data showed that Meghan had a majority swing of favorability with liberal voters. 74 percent of those who responded to the duchess favorably identified as liberal compared to just 27 percent who identified as conservative.

Favorability for the queen is shared almost equally across liberal and conservative respondents to the 2023 poll. Liberal's responded in support of the monarch by 64 percent and conservatives by 65 percent.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Australia
Celia Walden has told a U.K news host that Americans no longer seem to be "protective" or "defensive" over Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Photographed in Dubbo Australia, October 17, 2018. Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images)