It was clear to onlookers at last weekend’s Lion King premiere that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle command serious star power - with even Beyonce, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams and Elton John basking in their royal glow.
But an expert has warned that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s global popularity has already “upset the royal pecking order” and could see them make the same “cardinal sin” as the late Princess Diana by “stealing the limelight” from the monarchy.
“While having glittering charismatic younger members is essential to maintaining public interest in the monarchy, that should never come at the expense of detracting from the person who actually gets to wear the crown,” writes royal journalist Daniela Elser for News.com.au.
“Whether Diana was just being wilfully obstinate in the face of her husband’s imperious family or simply naive, the causes and issues she devoted herself to in the ’90s transformed her into a global powerbroker who, perhaps unwittingly, stole the limelight and made herself a target.
“And this was a cardinal sin in the eyes of the royal family — and one her son and daughter-in-law are dangerously close to repeating.”
Elser points to the words of Patrick Jephson, the equerry of Princes William and Harry for eight years, who has suggested the Sussexes could become too popular for their own good - just like Diana.
“As Diana discovered to her cost, if you acquire for yourself, however justifiably, a profile, a purpose, and a vocal, passionate public devotion independent of the royal mainstream, then you will risk being perceived and presented as a threat to the Crown itself,” he explained in his book, The Meghan Factor.
“This will mobilise the full forces of the establishment against you.”
They have also just been named among Time’s ‘25 Most Influential People On The Internet’ thanks in part to their 9.1m Instagram followers.
There is also a royal tour scheduled later this year for South Africa, for which two-month-old baby Archie will accompany them.
Elser notes that the fact the couple are “smart, photogenic and determined” will be a “problem for the monarchy” in the future.
She points to their appearance at the Lion King premiere last Sunday evening which received far more interest than Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s engagements in the same 24 hours.
This included the couple’s trip to Mevagissey, and also the first in line to the throne’s visit to Boscastle to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.