The publication of such a candid and revealing account is an almost unprecedented event in the centuries-old history of British royalty, which, as Harry has pointed out, is both a family and a national institution. The book has raised questions about whether it could do lasting damage to the monarchy, even asking whether its future existence is now less secure.
The monarchy’s overall popularity rating has halved from plus 44 to plus 18 since September 2022, according to new figures from British pollster YouGov released on Tuesday.
«There may be some lasting damage to the reputation of the royal family, but not to the point of undermining consent for a monarchy,» Suzannah Lipscomb, a professor emeritus at the University of Roehampton and a royal historian, told NBC News. «In terms of public opinion, I suspect it’s Harry’s popularity that will suffer the most.»
Nearly two-thirds of the British public now have a negative opinion of Harry, with only a quarter expressing a positive opinion, according to the YouGov survey. This means Harry’s net favorability rating is minus 38, the lowest it has ever been and a far cry from 2011, when he had a plus 65.
Meghan’s popularity has fallen to minus 42, YouGov said. Although she remains somewhat popular among the 18-24 year olds, her support, even among this group, has dropped dramatically.
Harry’s confessions and accusations may have damaged his reputation in Britain, just as his mother Princess Diana was criticized for sharing details of her divorce from Charles in a famous 1995 BBC interview.
But that criticism might not be the case in his adopted homeland, Lipscomb said.
“Harry is deeply concerned and aggrieved, and there is a sense that he has crossed the line: discretion is still valued on this side of the pond, and these revelations have almost exhausted the public’s sympathy. My feeling is that UK public opinion is that Harry has gone too far,» Lipscomb said.
By writing such a scathing account of his life, and by giving a series of interviews during which he speaks openly of the deep break with his father and brother, Harry may be reflecting the stereotype of the emotionally open and unremarkable American, an image that clearly attracted to him even before he met Meghan.
Harry describes how he had been warned since childhood that Americans were “too loud, too rich, too happy. Too confident, too direct, too honest,” but that he felt differently. “’Nah,’ I always thought. The Yankees didn’t beat around the bush, they didn’t fill the air with polite snorts and throat clearing before getting down to business. Whatever was on their mind, they would spit it out, like a sneeze, and while that could be problematic at times, I usually preferred it to the alternative.’”
He also describes how he quickly fell for Meghan Markle after seeing her photo on a friend’s Instagram.
“This woman stopped the conveyor belt. This woman tore the conveyor belt to pieces. She had never seen anyone so beautiful,” Harry wrote.
“There was an energy about her, a wild and playful joy,” he added. “I had never had a strong opinion on that burning question: Is there only one person on this earth for each of us? But at that moment I felt that there could only be one face for me.»
The book follows the couple’s Netflix series, which aired many of their grievances over the course of six hours. Harry has also sat down for high-profile television interviews to promote the ghostwritten memoir. The royal palaces have declined to comment on the memoirs and interviews. The Sussexes, through Archwell, have declined to comment on the record.
Harry has said he still wants a reconciliation with his family and believes it is possible, but when asked if he had burned his bridges with his father and brother, Harry told ITV in an interview in December that aired on Sunday. : «I’m not sure how honesty is burning bridges. You know, silence only allows the abuser to abuse, right? So I don’t know how staying silent will make things better.»
He also spoke on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and will appear on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
His family had «slept with the devil» to get favorable tabloid coverage, he said.
While Harry has waged war against the British media and its intrusiveness and negative headlines, the saga has been a huge boost for British newspapers, which have enthusiastically covered all the twists and turns, including the publication of his long-awaited book.
“The only winners here are the press feasting on the corpse of a once loving sisterly relationship,” said longtime royal commentator and former British journalist Emily Andrews.
“I don’t think Harry and Megan’s public image is fixable in the UK; I think it’s gone beyond that,” she added.
The end of the book details the days leading up to the shocking, public break with the royal family, when Meghan and Harry took their small family first to Canada and then to the US. The queen, under pressure from her family, says , rescinded an invitation to meet and, he hoped, discuss ongoing family tensions.
Regardless of the danger he felt his family was in and the disappointment with his family, Harry said that he would “always support my queen, my commander in chief, my grandmother. Even after she’s gone.
“My problem has never been with the monarchy, or the concept of monarchy. It has been with the press and the unhealthy relationship that developed between her and the palace. I love my mother country, and I love my family, and I always will.»
By going to war with the media and turning his version of events into prime time and certain blockbusters, Harry has also publicly feuded with his family. Only time will tell if this crack is irreparable.