Prince Harry popularity polls ‘plummeting’ says commentator
Meghan and Prince Harry have been at the centre of unprecedented interest and controversy since their decision to step down from the Royal Family. The couple have since spoken openly about their struggles with Harry recently claiming that his childhood suffered as a result of the way the Queen and Prince Philip brought up his father, Prince Charles. The Sussexes reserved their most explosive claims for a tell-all interview with US TV legend Oprah Winfrey in March ‒ but rather than an outpouring of sympathy, this led to a slump in their popularity on the other side of the pond.
YouGov US and The Economist polled more than 1,400 Americans after the interview the royal couple did with Ms Winfrey.
Of those polled, 54 percent said they had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Harry, while 26 percent had a very or somewhat unfavourable opinion of him, giving him a net score of 28.
By contrast, the poll showed that 48 percent had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Meghan, and 33 percent had a very or somewhat unfavourable opinion of her, giving her a net score of 15.
These figures represented a slump of more than 10 points each.
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Oprah Winfrey at Meghan and Harry’s wedding in 2018
Just a few weeks before the interview ‒ that aired on CBS in the US and ITV in the UK ‒ Harry had a net rating of 39 while Meghan clocked up a score of 28.
The poll, taken between March 13 and 17, showed one of the biggest divides was along voter lines.
Among supporters of US President Joe Biden at the last election, 44 percent said they had a very favourable opinion of Meghan, but only 10 percent of ex-US President Donald Trump voters said the same thing.
Nearly half, 45 percent, of Trump voters, said they had a very unfavourable opinion of the Duchess.
Similarly, 48 percent of Biden supporters said they had a very favourable opinion of Harry.
A further 32 percent of Biden voters said they had a somewhat favourable opinion of him.
The poll also asked whether people supported the decision by Harry and Meghan to step back from their roles as senior royals, with 61 percent of people saying they supported them and just 11 percent opposing the move.
However, 31 percent of respondents said they had no sympathy at all for them stepping back, compared to 17 percent who said they had a lot of sympathy for the decision.
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Meghan and Harry at their last royal engagement in 2020
In the sit-down with Ms Winfrey, Meghan claimed she felt suicidal but was told by the Palace that she couldn’t seek help.
The couple also claimed that an unnamed member of the Royal Family made racist comments about the colour of baby Archie’s skin tone.
The YouGov US poll points to a clear divide between normal Americans and celebrities, as social media suggested the Sussexes had sparked widespread outrage in the US.
Serena Williams, the US tennis star who co-hosted the Duchess’ baby shower in 2019, said Meghan was a victim of “systematic oppression”.
She said: “Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life – and leads by example – with empathy and compassion.
“She teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble. Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.
“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us.”
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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
Meghan, Harry and the Queen
Trish Regan, a former host on Fox News, said: “Good for them [the Sussexes] for getting the hell out of there.”
There was also widespread praise for Ms Winfrey’s handling of the interview.
Jon Favreau, former US President Barack Obama’s speechwriter, said: “No one can interview like that. Insanely talented.”
However, to say that this view was shared unanimously across the US would be misleading.
Maureen Callahan, a journalist writing in the New York Post, brutally tore apart several of Meghan’s claims shortly after the interview aired.
She described some of the claims as “whoppers”, particularly Meghan’s opening statement: “I wasn’t planning to say anything shocking.”
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Ms Callahan wrote: “Please. As we all know, Meghan’s not that good an actress. Or a dissembler.
“‘All the grandeur attached to this stuff’, said Meghan, has never meant anything, not part of the attraction at all.
“Says the woman who invited Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney to her wedding ‒ A-listers she’d never even met.”
And back in the UK, Ms Winfrey’s interviewing techniques did not impress British media figures.
GB News chairman Andrew Neil argued that Ms Winfrey “never pushed” the Sussexes to explain whether any of their claims were true.
He said: “It is dynamite as an interview, it’s a global news story.
“I think it is more damaging to the Royal Family than the Diana interview because it is a much bigger issue.
“Diana’s interview was basically about this rather dysfunctional Germanic family that she had married into, incapable of showing emotion, that had driven her to divorce and all the rest of it. It was a personal story.
“Of course, Oprah Winfrey never pushed them to determine whether it was true or not, to push them on the issues and do a proper job as an interviewer as opposed to saying ‘here’s a softball, down the leg side, whack it for six.'”