Here are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games closing ceremony in Düsseldorf the other night, closing out a glorious week of events for the athletes and organisers and also for the Sussexes themselves. So glorious that even the British tabloids and the social media trolls, as hard as they tried – and you know they tried – couldn’t manage to distract from what Harry and Meghan were doing: profile the tenacity of the participants and share their stories so that others around the world might be inspired by their example.
During the Games, Harry and Meghan were at their best, thoughtfully engaging with the Invictus community, interacting warmly and spontaneously with competitors and their families, and charming the host city with their enthusiasm. There were hugs for everyone, kisses for some, there was story time with kids, and no media storm whatsoever. Like I said a moment ago, the tabloids attempted to manufacture some, but this was overwhelmingly a win for everyone across the board. Again, first and foremost it was a win for Invictus and what it represents, but it was a public relations win, undoubtedly, for Harry and Meghan. Which is notable because, with these two, there’s almost always controversy. That might not be their intention, but as we have seen, the controversy is inevitable. And it doesn’t help any brand, any celebrity, to be surrounded by controversy all the time. Which is why this edition of the Invictus Games was so important for them going forward, to reset the table, if that’s possible.
Their critics are always going to critic. Nothing will change this. Beyond those people though, who are past the point of convincing, there are those who aren’t necessarily as invested in the endless and exhaustingly combative discourse over Harry and Meghan but who aren’t so removed as to not have noticed that they are… well… constantly in the middle of some kind of drama whether or it’s by their own design (his book, for example) or whatever f-ckery the British tabloids have concocted on any given day.
In all that mess, then, it’s easy to forget why these two in combination captured the public imagination in the first place and where this concerns them is that all that noise distracts from what they say is their purpose, and their effectiveness at meeting their purpose. This is kinda like actors and how they have to balance their personal lives and their professional roles. Public interest in them as celebrities is helpful to a certain point to build interest but too much public interest focusing on their scandals and their relationships and their business dealings or whatever can have a negative impact on their ability to convince people that they can become different characters, because all the audience is seeing on their screens is the person who was on the cover of that magazine, or in that video on TMZ, or that clip on TikTok or Instagram.
Harry and Meghan’s performance at Invictus, then, was – for them – an opportunity to at least remind people of how they really want to spend their time, and that they’re really good at this kind of work. They are personable, they are effective communicators, they can convey sincerity and interest in other people. They are likeable, and they were certainly very well liked in Germany.
So this is something to build on, positive momentum. It’ll be interesting to see how they follow up.
We’re talking about this over at The Squawk today. Here’s my shameless plug for our Substack. Chat is open for all subscribers but we’ll be locking it down starting next week so… this is what you’d be missing. Subscribe here!