Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Are More Popular Than Will & Kate. Here's What That Means For the Future of the Royal Family

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Now that the dust has settled, we can see Meghan Markle's Oprah Winfrey interview for what it was.

For millions of viewers, it was the television event of the year, but for Meghan it was nothing more than an opportunity to tell her story on her own terms and without interruptions.

Some backlash was inevitable, but it seems that Meghan weighed her options and decided that the potential rewards were greater than the risks.

Meghan Markle Interview Pic

After all, this was a woman who had spent the past several years unable to defend herself despite a non-stop onslaught of criticism and abuse from the press, from the public, and from her own in-laws.

By leaving the UK and relocating to America, Meghan began to reclaim control over her own life story.

And by going on Oprah, she shared that story with the world.

Meghan Markle with a Very Large Hat

Shockingly, Meghan remains unpopular in the UK, but on this side of the pond, she's never been bigger.

The one-two punch of the Oprah interview and the publication of Meghan's children's book has led to more positive press coverage of Meghan from American press outlets that at any time since the royal wedding.

And it seems that the situation may have resulted in some petty jealousy from the duchess' in-laws.

"Whether William and Kate like it or not, they are now international players in a transatlantic popularity contest with their own flesh and blood," royal expert Duncan Larcombe told UK tabloid The Mirror this week.

  
Dukes and Duchesses

"Harry and Meghan have shown that modern royalty will only survive if it is absolutely at the cutting edge of social media and their profiles play into the narrative of the cult of the celebrity," he added.

Yes, ironically, by leaving the UK to live as private citizens, Meghan and Harry have ushered in a new era of more accessible royalty.

"Which is a complete change from the era of Prince Philip," Larcombe continues.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Under an Umbrella

"It was never about the royals, it was about the causes, never complain, never explain, ignore questions about you and make it about your causes."

All of this could not come at a worse time for Will and Kate.

Insiders indicate that with the passing of Prince Philip, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are now eyeing the throne like never before, very much aware that they'll soon be burdened with the responsibility of justifying the existence of the royal family in the 21st century.

Prince William and Kate Middleton Anniversary Pic

That would be difficult under any circumstances, but it's nearly impossible when you're not even the most popular members of said family,

"I think Meghan and Harry feel they are always in control of the narrative and they feel they are in fierce competition - like a battle - with the Cambridges," royal expert Angela Levin told The Sun this week.

"But wise Kate and William are just trying to get on with their lives."

Kate and the Queen

Levin's comments seem to reflect the view of many Brits: 

That Meghan and Harry are grasping social climbers, while Will and Kate are merely keeping their heads down and doing their duty.

But the royal family needs more than just domestic popularity to justify the continued cost of keeping its members living in luxury.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Oprah

The Queen and company claim that they bring in so much in international tourism dollars that the cost to British taxpayers is more than compensated.

That hasn't been true for several years, but for many Brits, the royals still have appeal as a sort of ultimate diplomats -- representatives of the UK who are above the fray of electoral politics.

There's a debate to be had over whether or not that's an important function, but one thing is certain:

It can only be performed by figures who are widely respected at the global level, and right now, that's not Will and Kate.

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