Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may not find themselves happy with being solely a “commercial success,” with evidence of the couple’s public outreach so far showing signs that they wish to be “liked” as well, according to a new episode of Newsweek‘s The Royal Report podcast.

Both Harry and Meghan have seen their popularity in Britain and the U.S. plummet in the aftermath of the publication of Spare, Harry’s “raw” and “unflinching” tell-all memoir, on January 10.

The book, which contains a number of bombshell claims about the royal family, sparked a media frenzy around its publication after unauthorized copies were leaked to the U.S. and U.K. tabloid press.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle photographed at Kensington Palace, November 27, 2017. The royals have seen their popularity decrease in the U.S. and U.K. despite finding commercial success.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Spare has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time.

However, revelations made within it—both serious and light-hearted—have opened the prince up to widespread criticism, with 44 percent of Americans saying he was wrong to recount details of private family conversations.

The book’s enormous commercial success, coming at the cost of public support, is something the royal may be unhappy with, alongside Meghan Markle who has seen her popularity decline alongside her husband’s, Newsweek‘s chief royal correspondent, Jack Royston, highlighted on The Royal Report.

“Commercially, they may still be perfectly capable of making money in America because people with strong opinions will ultimately tune in, whether they’re tuning in to hate them or love them,” he said of the couple’s ongoing appeal.

“Actually, they’ve been hated in Britain for quite some time now and are still shifting huge numbers of copies of national newspapers. They are inspiring debates on television day after day, so being hated doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be commercially unsuccessful.

“The question is, do Harry and Meghan mind people disliking them?”

To this, Royston suggests that from the public outreach extended by the couple since their move to the U.S. in 2020—including their docuseries, podcasts, and books—they may not be happy with this, seeking instead a favorable response from the public as they continue with their cause-driven activism.

“It’s an open question and who’s to say that they won’t pop up somewhere in six months’ time and say that they’re completely fine with it?” he said, in reference to the perception of the couple in the public eye.

“But it does feel like, on the basis of everything they’ve said so far—and everything that we know about them—points to the probability that they will not be happy with this situation, that they will want to be liked as well as commercially successful.”

Prince Harry Memoir "Spare"
Prince Harry’s memoir “Spare” photographed January 10, 2023. The royal’s book has become the fastest-selling non-fiction title of all time.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The prince’s financial remuneration for signing with the publisher, Penguin Random House, has not been made public. Some sources have estimated that a multiple-book deal could have seen the royal bag around a $20 million payday.

In its first week, Spare sold 3.2 million copies in the U.S. with a further 400,000 copies being bought in the U.K., the prince’s home country, according to Fortune.

In spite of the considerable controversy surrounding the title’s release, and claims made about the royal family, including that Queen Camilla fed stories about Harry to the media and Prince William attacked his brother in a 2019 argument, both Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have declined to make any comment.

Following the publication of Spare, Harry’s popularity fell 45 points in the United States according to a Newsweek poll by Redfield & Wilton. Meghan’s dropped 36 points.

The royal family did not emerge from the book controversies unscathed. In Britain, support for the monarchy fell six points, with the number percentage of the population viewing the institution negatively increasing by five percent.

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek’s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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