Thursday 23 January 2020

Meghan and Harry make diplomatic blunder in describing 2018 Dublin visit as example of 'strengthening the Commonwealth'


Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, smile as they prepare to meet Ireland's President, Michael Higgins, on their second day of a two-day visit to Dublin, Ireland July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, smile as they prepare to meet Ireland's President, Michael Higgins, on their second day of a two-day visit to Dublin, Ireland July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Meghan Markle during her Dublin visit
On arrival in Ireland, Meghan paid tribute to our national colour in a forest green top and custom pencil skirt by Givenchy, styled with her favourite Aquazurra nude pumps and a cognac tote from the Edinburgh-based husband-and-wife team Strathberry. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Famine Memorial, on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland
A Duke and Duchess of Sussex during a visit to Croke Park, on day two of their visit to Dublin, Ireland
Actor Amy Huberman attends a Summer Party at the British Ambassador's residence at Glencairn House, during a visit to Dublin, Ireland, by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Book of Kells Exhibition at Trinity College during their visit to Dublin, Ireland, July 11, 2018. Gareth Fuller/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex walkabout during a visit to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, July 11, 2018. Gareth Fuller/Pool via REUTERS
The Duchess of Sussex arriving to meet Michael Higgins at Áras an Úachtaráin on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Dublin, Ireland. Photo: PA
Stepping out: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the British ambassador’s residence during their visit to Dublin in July 2018. Picture: PA
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have claimed their Irish mini-moon was an effort to strengthen the Commonwealth – even though Ireland is not in a member of group.

As part of their new website, the royal couple identify "strengthening the Commonwealth" as a key theme of their work.

The Commonwealth is an association of 53 member states, nearly of all of which are former territories of the British empire.

Ireland left the group of ex-colonies when we became a republic in 1949.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

Stepping out: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the British ambassador’s residence during their visit to Dublin in July 2018. Picture: PA
Stepping out: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the British ambassador’s residence during their visit to Dublin in July 2018. Picture: PA

The boast about their trip to Dublin in 2018 will likely be considered one of their first major diplomatic blunders since Ms Markle and Prince Harry announced plans to 'step back' from their roles within the royal family.

On their newly launched Sussex Royal website, which is to be a platform for their attempt to become ‘financially independent’, the couple write about their royal work in the past and high profile tours.

These include visits to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand as well as their two-day tour of Dublin.

At the time, the trip was considered to be part of a soft-PR strategy executed by the British government to bolster Anglo-Irish relations amid growing tensions over the impact of Brexit.

The royals are often asked by the Foreign Office to act as ambassadors and Meghan and Harry, alongside Kate Middleton and Prince William, were seen to be the most effective weapons in the communications team's arsenal.

"During their trips across the Commonwealth, The Duke and Duchess meet with young leaders to hear their insights and propel their vision for lasting change," the site reads, after describing Queen Elizabeth as Head of Commonwealth.

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Book of Kells Exhibition at Trinity College during their visit to Dublin, Ireland, July 11, 2018. Gareth Fuller/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Book of Kells Exhibition at Trinity College during their visit to Dublin, Ireland, July 11, 2018. Gareth Fuller/Pool via REUTERS

"At the age of 21, during a speech in Cape Town, South Africa, she vowed to devote her life to the service of this coalition of nations. Few global entities have a greater stake in that future," she added.

On their website, the couple detail their trip taken weeks after their wedding which was comprised largely of meet and greets and photo opportunities.

Notably they met with President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina - and their dogs Bród and Síoda - at Áras an Uachtaráin.

The visit was generally seen as a success, although it was not without some controversy. The cost of Meghan's wardrobe for the 36-hour venture was an estimated €10,000 and she was criticised for not supporting any Irish designers during the trip.

The couple describe Ireland as "the UK’s closest and most important neighbour”.

"It was an important opportunity to not only represent the UK government, but also highlight the rich cultural heritage of this amazing country. The visit was seen as an important moment in UK-Ireland relations, helping celebrate the bond between the two nations, and furthering future prospects in trade, tourism and culture,” the Sussex Royal website says.

It refers to their visit to the Book of Kells at Trinity College and a visit to Dogpatch Labs, "a startup hub in Dublin’s Digital Docklands".

However, they neglected to mention a visit to the Irish Famine Memorial neighbouring Dogpatch, meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and signing the visitor book at Government Buildings, visiting EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum or learning about GAA at Croke Park.

“We draw strength from one another as neighbours, partners, and above all, as friends," they included, referring to a quote by the Duke of Sussex during a speech made at the British Ambassador's residence at Glencairn.

The event, attended by hundreds of hand-selected guests chosen by the couple, reflected some of the pool of talent which Ireland boasts, including actresses Amy Huberman and Aisling Bea, retired rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll and activist Sinéad Burke.

It also marked the beginning of the couple's now-notoriously scrappy PR approach to traditional media as journalists from around the world who travelled to cover their visit documented their disappointment at the scheduling and arrangements made throughout the trip in their respective articles.

Online Editors

Also in this section