United Kingdom

JAN MOIR: Not even the coronavirus crisis can stop Harry and Meghan's scheme to save the world

As the sun rose on another blameless California morning, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex took their daily turmeric shots boosted with raw ginger, naked opportunism and freshly squeezed brass neck.

The world was in turmoil around them, as Covid-19 continued to sweep across the globe.

Yet not even a pandemic can stop Harry and Meghan in their self-imposed, grandiose scheme to save the world, one worthy cause at a time. The couple have just announced that they are launching a new non-profit charitable foundation named Archewell which will replace their short-lived Sussex Royal brand.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have started their new life in Los Angeles following their decision to step down as senior royals

Archewell! It sounds like a pink foam pad designed to help those who suffer from flat feet. A forgotten London tube station. Or perhaps a dried out canal bed in Salford. Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound good.

Certainly, it has none of the self-explanatory elegance of Sussex Royal, but that had to go after the Queen laid down the law following the couple’s decision last year to step down as working royals. Yet much of the Sussexes’ global appeal is contingent on public understanding that they remain enmeshed with and indispensable to the Royal Family. Without that, who or what are they? And why should anyone care?

Yesterday they took pains to explain why we should. And that Archewell was not only their future, it had informed their past, too. ‘Before Sussex Royal, came the idea of Arche – the Greek word meaning source of action,’ said the Sussexes in a statement. ‘We connected to this concept for the charitable organisation we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name.’

Did it really? Let’s be frank here. Harry wasn’t exactly noted as a Greek scholar at Eton, while I imagine Meghan’s knowledge of the subject begins and ends with how much feta she wants in her Greek salad. I could be wrong! As Plutarch once almost said, judge ye not the Duke and Duchess of Do-Good until the virtue of their harvest is fully reaped on the Oprah show.

Yet the problem with the Sussexes is that, in such a short time, they have become increasingly preposterous. Just listen to them earnestly elaborating on their Archewell aims: ‘To do something of meaning, to do something that matters. Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon.’

So far the only deep resources Harry and Meghan have drawn upon are Prince Charles’s bank accounts. I mean, who are they trying to fool? The current global health crisis has made many take stock, and to focus with piercing clarity on what is really important; family, health, love and safety.

One of the results of this is that it throws a harsh light on the kind of virtue signalling, woke values and empty words of people like Harry and Meghan, exposing the aching vacuity at the heart of their endeavours. ‘We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right,’ they say. Couldn’t they have waited until the time was right to tell us they were going to wait until the time was right to tell us?

Look around you, kids. Prime Minister Boris Johnson lies gravely ill in a London hospital. The Queen has just delivered the speech of her life; a pitch-perfect oration that summed up the perilous situation in which we now find ourselves.

In this photo taken on 27 March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the camera from an office in Downing Street to announce that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan have been in Los Angeles announcing their new charity

Since his announcement, he has been moved into an intensive care ward, similar to this one pictured in UCL Hospital, London, which shows patients hooked up to ventilators

It was a moment that strengthened the bonds between the monarchy and the nation. Not something that tainted the monarchy with the cheap values of celebrity and personal ambition.

And if the future begins with Archewell – where does it end? For everything the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do and say now seems to raise more questions than answers. Prince Harry has always maintained that their abdication from royal life stemmed from a desire to protect his son.

So why move him from the relative safety and isolation of Vancouver Island to the metropolitan Covid-19 hotspot of Los Angeles?

And if the couple are so desperately concerned about Archie’s privacy, why name their primary charity after him? Surely this only leverages the child further into the public spotlight?

On Sunday the Queen gave the 'speech of her life; a pitch-perfect oration that summed up the perilous situation in which we now find ourselves', rallying the nation during this time of crisis

The most unfathomable mystery of all is simply why they have to continue to present themselves as all-encompassing do-gooders, armed with their grab bag of causes which include climate change, mental health, domestic violence and refugees?

All very worthy, of course, but the way they carry on, it’s almost as if no other charity in the world has ever done anything of note.

Yet why don’t they just quietly begin again in America, doing good works, making a difference and letting their philanthropic profile emerge naturally? I think we all know the answer to that – and it is embroiled in their corrosive relationship with celebrity.

Harry and Meghan – they have never knowingly undersold themselves. And with Archiewell they are not about to start now.

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