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Prince and Princess of Wales believe they have won US battle against Sussexes

The Prince and Princess of Wales - Nancy Lane/The Boston Herald
The Prince and Princess of Wales - Nancy Lane/The Boston Herald

They may have tried their best to derail the Prince and Princess of Wales’s three-day visit to Boston.

But in the event, royal aides welcomed the release of a slickly-produced Netflix trailer, packed to the brim with drama from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which only widened the gulf between the two camps.

While Prince Harry and Meghan continued to paint themselves as victims, heads in hands, tearing their hair out at the unfairness of it all, the Prince and Princess were simply getting on with the job.

Out and about in Boston last week, the couple did what they set out to do, shining a light on climate change, roping in celebrities, including David Beckham and Billie Eilish, along the way.

They were greeted by large crowds, many of whom waited hours in biting temperatures and torrential downpours. There were tears, clasped hands and declarations of love.

The Prince and Princess of Wales were greeted by large crowds, many of whom waited hours in biting temperatures and torrential downpours - Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA
The Prince and Princess of Wales were greeted by large crowds, many of whom waited hours in biting temperatures and torrential downpours - Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA

“As one mother to another, we can always learn from each other,” one fan told the Princess. “She is such an icon for women,” said another after meeting her.

The Sussexes’ apparent determination to focus on the struggles of the past is met with a mixture of amusement and bewilderment by palace aides.

Harry and Meghan’s dramatic Netflix trailer was released just 24 hours before the Prince met US President Joe Biden on Friday - Courtesy of Prince Harry and Meghan/Netflix
Harry and Meghan’s dramatic Netflix trailer was released just 24 hours before the Prince met US President Joe Biden on Friday - Courtesy of Prince Harry and Meghan/Netflix

In their native US, the documentary project, the forthcoming memoir, the magazine interviews, simply perpetuate the notion that the Sussexes are celebrities rather than statespersons.

Last week, some 3,000 miles from California, the Prince and Princess were looking to the future, presenting themselves as “changemakers”, a powerful couple on a mission to create a better future.

In doing so, they hopped effortlessly from job to job: turning local landmarks green; fistbumping basketball fans at an NBA Celtics game; meeting climate tech entrepreneurs; and posing for selfies during an impromptu walkabout with hundreds of well-wishers at a youth violence charity.

“Their itinerary, and past actions, suggest Kate and William are people of conscience and admirable values,” wrote columnist Kevin Cullen in the Boston Globe.

As always, the Princess let her wardrobe choices do the talking, opting for sharply tailored business suits by largely British designers, including Roland Mouret and Alexander McQueen.

Tamara Abraham, The Telegraph’s senior fashion editor, said: “Opting for suits, beside William in suits, has ensured they are positioned as equals.

“This has been very different from a traditional Royal tour – it has so much more purpose in Earthshot and the Princess’s wardrobe reflects that.

“She is no Diana arm candy. As a couple, they are selling us an image of a professional power couple, while the Sussexes are selling us their love story.”

A Boston resident said the Prince and Princess of Wales are “out there supporting communities and trying to shine the light on other people rather than shine light on themselves” - Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA
A Boston resident said the Prince and Princess of Wales are “out there supporting communities and trying to shine the light on other people rather than shine light on themselves” - Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA

But rarely have such hurdles been thrown in the Royal path.

What was expected to be a straightforward business trip focusing on pet issues and culminating in the Earthshot Prize award ceremony perhaps attracted more attention than it otherwise would have for all the wrong reasons.

Before they left the UK, a source close to the Prince and Princess issued a prescient disclaimer: they would let nothing distract from their trip.

The comment was aimed sharply at the Sussexes, who are no strangers to grabbing headlines, but Kensington Palace could never have predicted that the highly sensitive, three-day visit would collide with not one, but two dramas on the royal stage.

The first, a damaging race row and the resignation of Lady Susan Hussey, the Prince’s godmother, threatened to cast a long shadow over not just the trip but the wider institution.

Diversity is a key theme of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize but Lady Susan’s “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to a black domestic abuse campaigner at Buckingham Palace risked making such themes appear hollow.

It was felt important for the Wales camp to address the issue head-on, as soon as they touched down in Boston – which they did – making clear that the Prince supported the decision to sack Lady Susan. “Racism has no place in our society,” his spokesman said.

The second drama perhaps could have been foreseen, such is the froideur between the Kensington Palace and Montecito-based branches of the Royal family.

The Prince and Princess of Wales spoke with Mayor Michelle Wu and Reverend Mariama White-Hammond as they visited east Boston to see how the city contends with rising sea levels - Chris Jackson/Getty
The Prince and Princess of Wales spoke with Mayor Michelle Wu and Reverend Mariama White-Hammond as they visited east Boston to see how the city contends with rising sea levels - Chris Jackson/Getty

Team Wales was convinced the release of a glossy Netflix trailer was deliberately timed to derail their US trip.

A tweet from Omid Scobie, the Sussexes’ biographer and chief cheerleader, could not have been more provocative.

Referring to the fact that the Earthshot Prize has become so significant to William it has  been hailed as his “Super Bowl moment”, he wrote of the one-minute video clip: “If tomorrow is Prince William’s Super Bowl, then here’s your Halftime Show…”

Several sources close to the Prince and Princess questioned why it was not held for a day or two, while others noted that the Boston trip had perhaps presented them with a convenient platform.

It is indicative of how the Sussexes are now viewed at the palace that some have started referring to them as the Kardashians.

However, the trailer, set to dramatic music and showing a rapid stream of images of Prince Harry and Meghan, was largely considered to be rather fortuitous for the Prince and Princess.

The mood in Boston was of general resignation rather than anger.

“They’re out there supporting communities and trying to shine the light on other people rather than shine light on themselves,” one friend wryly pointed out.