Meghan being ‘more popular than Diana’ was royals’ biggest fear, palace source says

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Meghan Markle’s surging popularity following her marriage to Prince Harry was the Royal Family's biggest fear, a royal expert claims.

Despite moving to California with her young family after stepping down as a senior royal, Meghan’s initial reception as a 'force of change' was perceived as a threat to Buckingham Palace, author Andrew Morton says.

According to Morton, the former actress’ popularity was a concern for some people who believed her charming personality and camera-readiness was a danger to The Firm.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “This popularity soon started to concern some courtiers, who once again saw shades of Diana, the charismatic newcomer potentially overshadowing the rest of the Royal Family, particularly the two immediate heirs to the throne, Charles and William.

"'The danger to them is that Meghan is going to be bigger than Diana,' a source told one journalist."

Following the announcement of their engagement, Meghan – whose feminist values and public support of women’s rights had already gained headlines across the globe – was perceived as representing a more inclusive and outspoken monarchy.

During his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry acknowledged how the couple's tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand in October 2018 was the point at which “it all changed” and people began to see Meghan’s star power as being reminiscent of his late mother’s.

“You know, my father, my brother, Kate and all the rest of the family, they were really welcoming… But it really changed after the Australia tour, after our South Pacific tour,” he said.

Referencing his parent’s 1983 tour of Australia and New Zealand in which Prince Charles reportedly began to resent the global stardom Diana had gained, the Duke of Sussex said his family were finally able to see what Meghan was capable of.

“To see how effortless it was for Meghan to come into the family so quickly in Australia and across New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, and just be able to connect with people,” he said.

“It was the first time the family got to see how incredible she was at the job. And that brought back memories.”

Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s tour of Australia saw ‘Dianamania’ sweep across the globe, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to catch a glimpse of the princess.

“Everyone always said when we were in the car, ‘Oh, we’re on the wrong side, we want to see her, we don’t want to see him’ … and obviously he wasn’t used to that and nor was I. How took it out on me. He was jealous,” Diana told Mr Morton for his biography.

After splitting from Kensington Palace and launching their separate Instagram account @sussexroyal in 2019, the extent of Meghan’s popularity was clear to see.

In less than six hours, the couple had amassed over a million followers. By January 2020, the number had grown to 11.3 million.

The news comes just weeks after Meghan and Harry were named by TIME magazine as being among the 100 most influential people of 2021, something which Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, said would be a “stab in the heart of the monarchy's reputation”.

“The combination of the leaks and the framing of themselves in part as victims of certain behaviour and on top of that connecting in such authentic ways with global Gen Z and Millennial audiences and allowing them to actually feel what it's like to interact with a member of the royal family, that on a human level has been powerful,” he said.

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