MEGHAN MARKLE and Prince Harry’s plan for their lives after exiting the Royal Family has one “major difference” to Diana, Princess of Wales’ intentions before her untimely death, a royal biographer has claimed.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales’ tragic death. The princess died in a car accident in Paris while travelling from the Ritz hotel with her partner Dodi Al-Fayed. Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles had finalised a year earlier, meaning she lost her ‘HRH’ title and no longer officially represented Queen Elizabeth II. By many accounts, the princess was beginning to find her own way outside of the confines of royal life at the time of her death.
One royal biographer has claimed Diana’s plan looked a lot like the strategy Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have adopted since leaving the Royal Family — but with one “major difference”. Tina Brown, author of ‘The Diana Chronicles’ and recent best-seller ‘The Palace Papers’, recalled a lunch she had with the princess in New York a month before the fatal car crash. The founding editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast dined at The Four Seasons with Diana and editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour in July 1997.
This week, she told The Daily Beast: “Diana was really on top form and in many ways in her stride in a pale green suit with those amazing supermodel legs and incredibly limpid blue eyes. “She was absolutely stunning in real life, and so much taller than you thought. “She talked about two things. She was really excited about starting to do documentaries about her causes, and for that to fund her humanitarian work.” Ms Brown then claimed that there was a distinct gap between Diana and Meghan and Harry’s goals: “In some ways, it was a foreshadow of Harry and Meghan’s plan 25 years ago, with the one major difference — that Diana didn’t see any profit in it. “She was doing it as a charitable venture.”
Diana garnered the world’s attention as a royal trendsetter, known for her style and beauty, but she also became a prominent figure in philanthropic and humanitarian causes. During her time in the public eye, the royal worked tirelessly for a number of charities and organisations, raising awareness for important, often overlooked, issues. In 1987, when AIDS was hugely stigmatised, Diana opened Britain’s first ward dedicated to fighting the virus. An image from the visit showed the princess shaking hands with HIV-positive patients without wearing gloves. The following day, it was plastered across the front-pages of newspapers around the world.
At the time, it was widely believed HIV/AIDS was passed from person to person by touch and so Diana had publicly challenged the misconception. In the years that followed, she made several bedside visits to patients. Following her death, Gavin Hart, of the National AIDS Trust, told the BBC: “In our opinion, Diana was the foremost ambassador for AIDS awareness on the planet and no one can fill her shoes in terms of the work she did.” Diana also made regular visits to London’s homeless centres, having become patron of Centrepoint in 1992.
Perhaps most famously, months before her death, the princess became anti-landmine activists’ most prominent advocate during a trip to Angola when she was photographed putting her own safety at risk as she walked through a recently cleared minefield. At the time, she told BBC documentary ‘Heart of the Matter’: “I’d read the statistics that Angola has the highest percentage of amputees anywhere in the world. “That one person in every 333 had lost a limb, most of them through land mine explosions. But that hadn’t prepared me for reality.” In many ways, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have followed in the footsteps of the late princess.
Harry continues his mother’s legacy by working with leading landmines charity The HALO Trust and has previously called for the world to become free of the weapons by 2025. In 2020, he and Meghan visited Homeboy Industries, an LA-based nonprofit which helps former gang members rebuild their lives and create positive change within their communities. Royal expert Katie Nichol noted the sentimental value for the prince, mentioning Diana’s dedication to philanthropy and working with those who are marginalised by society. She told Entertainment Tonight at the time: “Some people might wonder why Harry is getting so involved with something like Homeboy [Industries], which is such an L.A.-based, centric initiative.
“But it is a charity. It is an organisation for those who are marginalised by society, those who have no hope, those who society simply wants to dismiss.” Ms Nicholl continued: “She [Diana] was there for those that society just wanted to reject and ignore. “And in that respect, I think Harry and Meghan are really keeping Diana’s memory and her work very much alive in what they are doing today.” The Sussexes’ upcoming trip to Europe is set to centre around charitable work, with the couple planning to visit several events “close to their hearts”.
Meghan and Harry are expected to arrive in Manchester on September 5 for the One Young World Summit opening ceremony, where the Duchess is set to give a keynote address, before the pair travel to Germany for an event the following day to mark a year until the Invictus Games arrives in Dusseldorf. They will then return to the UK for the WellChild Awards in London on September 8, where the prince will deliver a speech. But the reasoning for their trip has been questioned by some royal experts who have noted the odd timing of the visit. Writing for ToDiForDaily.com, Richard Fitzwilliams said: “Why are they coming back to Britain to support two charities in early September?
“Their popularity in the polls is extremely low, they and much of the media are at war and there is a deep rift between them and most of the rest of the royal family. “Could it be because Netflix, with whom they have a valuable contract, want more? “It is becoming increasingly clear that so much of what they do is simply all about them, this visit may prove ill-timed and their support may decline even further.” Meghan and Harry signed a multi-million pound deal with Netflix in September 2020, a few months after they announced their plans to step down from the Firm. Nearly two years on, they are yet to release any content on the platform.
Harry is understood to be working on a documentary about the Invictus Games, which he founded as a working royal in 2014. And it has been reported that the couple are producing an at-home style documentary series with the streaming platform. The Sussexes have been followed by a film crew on recent trips and some have speculated they will be filming during their trip next month as there is a lot “riding” on the docuseries. Daniela Elser, royal journalist at Australian news outlet news.au.com, warned that “potentially hundreds of millions of dollars are riding on” the series, which has been tipped to release later this year (in time for Season Five of The Crown).
Writing for the publication, she said: “Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars are riding on this docuseries for the self-supporting, private jet-flying, polo-loving Sussexes. “If it turns out that the Duke and Duchess are TV gold, if they are about to demonstrate that they are binge-worthy stars who can pull in streaming viewers globally, then their US careers are set. Get another polo pony! Hell, buy seven. “But, if they fail to live up to the hype and the rhetoric? The huge sums being touted and all those lovely millions supposedly coming their way could dry up faster than a Californian lake.”