Should the Duke & Duchess of Sussex lose their titles?
He was the pin-up prince, arguably the most popular of all the royals, apart from Her Majesty herself. As a soldier, he served with distinction and then campaigned tirelessly on behalf of wounded veterans, creating the hugely successful Invictus Games to worldwide acclaim.
Handsome, humorous, modest, at ease beneath the constant glare of the public spotlight, Harry seemed – to devoted fans and royal sceptics alike – a genuinely good bloke, almost “one of us”. And when he rocked royal protocol by marrying the divorced, mixed-race and avowedly feminist Meghan Markle, the majority of the great British public voiced, or at least nodded, their approval.
For a while, throughout what now turns out to have been an all too fleeting honeymoon period, everything in the royal garden was rosy, with the Sussexes appearing to be best of buddies with the more senior Cambridges.
With the royal clan assembled on the Buckingham Palace balcony, Harry and Meghan were seen standing just behind William and Kate, smiling, sharing little whispered asides, and waving happily to their adoring public. All was well; all was as it should be in the House of Windsor.
But perhaps the “standing just behind William and Kate,” was a problem in the making, for it soon seemed that the Duke and his new Duchess were struggling to find their place and purpose, not only in the royal line up, but also in the wider world. Rumours of discontent spread quickly.
There were negative reports about the way Meghan treated royal staff, and then claims emerged that, far from being the best of friends, there was little love lost between the Sussex and Cambridge households.
The situation escalated dramatically when Harry and Meghan launched their Sussex Royal website, with Her Majesty apparently “not amused”.
As sections of the Press turned against them and with public opinion shifting, Harry and Meghan made the shock decision to abandon their royal duties to pursue their own interests in America.
Their departure was swiftly labelled “Megxit” and the subsequent criticism only intensified with their signing of a mega-deal to make films and documentaries for Netflix. It’s all a long way from the Buck House balcony and it remains a continuing, real-life drama for the controversial couple.
What our surveys show
Harry’s standing in the popularity ratings has plummeted since he and Meghan decamped to California and now a significant majority of us (58%) think the former favourite and his wife should be stripped of their royal titles, with only 31% believing they should retain them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly many of us lay the blame for the split with the royal family at the duchess’s door. In any future Netflix drama about the royal rift, 36% of us think she should be cast as the villain as opposed to 29% who see her as the hero and only 23% who believe she should appear as the victim.
Whilst our second survey question was in a light-hearted vein our third was more serious: we asked whether Meghan had been made a scapegoat in the Press because of her ethnicity and background? Overall the numbers were close, with 43% thinking she had, 37% thinking she had not and 20% unsure.
As with many current issues, the level of sympathy for Meghan varies wildly between Brexit referendum Remain and Leave voters. A massive 61% of Remainers believe she has been victimised while just 19% of Leavers feel the same.