While the rest of Britain basked in the last eruption of the sun in August, the mood at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor was gloomy.
After having enjoyed no less than three generous breaks abroad by a private jet after preaching the world about climate change, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were confronted with accusations of extravagance and hypocrisy.
To make things even better, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed a contrasting glowing report in the media.
The Buckingham Palace PR team and outside PR's behind the fightback, including Izzy May, PR for David Beckham and Sara Latham, former adviser to Hilary Clinton
Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit District Six Museum and Homecoming Center in Cape Town, South Africa
For Harry and Meghan, a year-long storm of negative heads reached a peak.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that shortly before this low point, assistants were warning Harry to take a private flight to Sicily to attend a Google conference on climate change. The prince ignored the guidance and boarded the plane. "It came back to bite him – bad," said a source.
Hunkered for Frogmore, well aware of the negativity around them, the besieged couple knew that their upcoming trip to Africa could make or break their reputation.
Now, a week in the tour, there are signs that they have started turning things around. According to sources, it has helped that they finally & # 39; really listen & # 39; to the people around them. They include a "formidable" new personal assistant for Meghan and a press officer poached from the Cambridges.
Every aspect of the Africa tour has been meticulously planned and has delivered remarkable successes, from baby Archie who delights to Archbishop Desmond Tutu as & # 39; Arch with Arch & # 39 ;, to a groundbreaking engagement in a congregation known as the murder capital of South Africa.
The public response is reminiscent of the marriage around Harry and Meghan, when their romance and non-conformity was celebrated. Unfortunately, at the time, an assistant admitted that it was all so positive that many assumed the pair was invincible.
And then it all suddenly changed. In public, the couple wanted to be campaigners who & # 39; woke up & # 39; goods. Harry preached that he would have only two children to help the environment and Meghan scribbled & # 39; you are loved & # 39; on bananas for sex workers.
Communications secretary Sara Latham is a US-born former adviser to Hillary Clinton, who has also worked for Bill Clinton
Private Australian-born Samantha Cohen (left). Deputy private secretary Heather Wong worked for the US Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration (right)
It was whispered that Meghan & # 39; difficult & # 39; was to work for and endless stories about dismissal of staff and a fight with the Cambridges. Then came the constant demands for privacy, confusion about the birth of Archie, and the raging refusal to disclose the names of his godparents.
Most importantly, there has been their quirky extravagance, including Meghan's £ 300,000 celebrity-filled baby shower in New York and the £ 2.5 million renovation of Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
It also appeared that Meghan used an agent, manager and a public relations company based in LA to strengthen her image and use her public role to publish her friends' companies.
At the awkward launch of his sustainable travel initiative, Harry claimed he was obliged to use private jets to "protect his family," even though he had flown to the Google Summit in Sicily alone. His "tone dove" words came after his brother dutifully pulled his own suitcases from a budget flight weeks earlier.
Before Team Sussex left for Africa, a royal insider said: "It is pretty clear to everyone that there can be no ifs, no buts, it should go well for them. All Royal tours are traditionally fantastic opportunities to generate positive publicity, but this is really important. & # 39;
When Meghan suggested that she accept more engagements in South Africa while Harry traveled to other countries, she was advised that they should remain private so as not to overshadow him. Characteristically, she accepted the advice without complaints.
Project manager Clara Madden was born in New Zealand and handed Meghan her bouquet at the royal wedding last year (left). Digital officer David Watkins is a 26-year-old former Burberry employee (right)
Communications Officer James Holt led communications for the Liberal Democrats describing himself as an & # 39; occasional runner & # 39;
Fiona Mcilwham is the incoming private secretary who was one of the youngest British ambassadors ever when he was appointed to Albania
And the new team of assistants has orchestrated some "magical" moments: a cute photo moment with a young baby, dances, hugs and heartfelt emotion as Harry followed in his mother's footsteps in a minefield in Angola.
After meeting Angolan President Joao Lourenco yesterday, Harry is starting the next phase of his tour in Malawi today, where he will visit a school before reuniting with his wife and son in Johannesburg. Yesterday you could see Meghan taking Archie to a planned BA flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
It also appeared that last week she quietly received a group of female community leaders, including Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, who led 20,000 women in 1956 to protest against apartheid laws.
Although they have made good use of traditional photocalls, the Sussex people still have the chance to see some of their famous & # 39; star forces & # 39; to unleash – where Meghan rejoiced to meet teenage South African girls by telling them: & I am here as a woman of color and as your sister. & # 39;
According to Dickie Arbiter, who worked as a press secretary for the Queen and Prince Charles for more than a decade, the secret of creating a successful tour uses the specific strengths of the traveling royals. He said: “When I was planning tours for the Prince of Wales, his interests would vary enormously, not just the environment and development, but also the sale of UK PLC – a completely different ball game.
Markus Anderson (center) and Izzy May (right), an external PR, who may be one of the contenders for the role of godfather and parent of the baby of the duke and duchess of Sussex
"Here you have Harry and Meghan, a young couple in their thirties, with social interests. They are very informal, which is not a bad thing. If you are dealing with social problems as they are, it is better to be informal than to be aloof. They are just the right people to do things like that.
"If you are dealing with young people with psychological problems, you do not want someone in a suit and tie to stand above them."
Crucial to the popularity is the newly formed "power" team and the newly found willingness of the couple to listen to them.
Prince Harry, pictured on arrival at Luanda airport before his departure from Angola on Saturday, will travel to Malawi, the next stop on his 10-day tour of Africa and the final destination before returning to his wife and son in South Africa adds
Archie was last seen on Wednesday during tea with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town. At the meeting, Meghan told her son to get used to the cameras in his life
The team, which combines Palace Old Hands and new faces, has been carefully put together.
Samantha Cohen, a former assistant to the queen, has been acting as private secretary to Harry and Meghan since May last year. A source said: "Samantha has known Harry for many years and acknowledges that she needed help. She leaves after the tour, but has been able to offer some constructive criticism and has been listened to. & # 39;
Also on the trip was Fiona Mcilwham – who unveiled this newspaper exclusively as their new private secretary.
During his time in Angola on Friday, Prince Harry visited the same minefield that his mother walked through in January 1997. The Princess of Wales had rightly visited Huambo to draw worldwide attention to the landmines crisis
Meghan (photo) tied an orange ribbon around the painted porch of the Clareinch Post Office, where university student Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered on Saturday 24 August. The duchess shared this image on Instagram on Friday
The commander is Sara Latham, who started earlier this year as communications secretary for the couple. The former White House assistant is admired by Harry and Meghan and fiercely protective of their dealings with the media. The Sussexes have also permanently recruited James Holt, who previously led communication for the Royal Foundation, the charity led by the Cambridges.
Holt has worked in Kensington Palace for several years – as well as for the Liberal Democrats – and is passionate about many of the causes defended by Harry and Meghan.
Australian-born Marnie Gaffney – an experienced and highly efficient Palace Assistant – has also assisted the Sussex PR team.
Harry & # 39; s assistant private secretary, Heather Wong, is said to have done "invaluable" work behind the scenes, where a friend described her as "extremely intelligent, clear as a button and very reliable."
Another recent appointment is a new personal assistant for Meghan, only known as "Maria."
With a background in fashion, she thinks she helped the duchess with her sensible and well-researched style choices for the Africa tour, including a black-and-white wrap dress from the ethical Malawi-based brand Mayamiko, who donates £ 1 for each item of clothing sold directly to the Mayamiko Trust, which helps finance sewing and sewing training for local women.
After starting the royal tour together in Cape Town, Prince Harry left his wife and son to visit Botswana, Angola and Malawi. He will then join the family in Johannesburg for the last few days of the trip before they all fly back to London
Despite all their hard work, the Africa tour has not fully restored Sussexes' reputation.
The global view will not be deflected and it remains to be seen whether assistants at Buckingham Palace will be able to work effectively with their brasher US PR cousins to keep burning the image of the couple.
"At the end of the day, Meghan is used to the life of a celebrity and is not entirely willing to give up," said an insider. "That will always be a bottleneck."
Above all, sources say that the couple must learn that their public image is not indestructible.
One said: "What happens next? More than one successful tour is needed to run badly for a year.
"Not much has been thought about or planned in the coming months, so they will have to work very hard to ensure that they continue to follow this new popularity.
The royal tour schedule of the duke and duchess of Sussex
Day one – September 23
The tour started in a township in Cape Town, South Africa, where Prince Harry and Meghan accompanied children in a workshop that teaches children about their rights and offers self-defense lessons.
The couple also toured the District Six Museum to find out more about the work done to reunite people affected by apartheid.
Day two – 24 September
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex traveled to nearby Monwabisi Beach to learn more about the Waves for Change therapy program for people affected by violence.
Prince Harry then joined the unit of Cape Town to find out more about the work being done to combat illegal poaching.
& # 39; In the afternoon, Meghan and Harry visited the oldest mosque in the country and eventually attended a reception at the residence of the British High Commissioner.
Day three – 25 September
The Sussexes accompanied by baby Archie met the anti-apartheid Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mrs. Tutu at their old foundation.
From here, the program segment splits from their royal highness – The Duke travels further to Botswana while The Duchess stays in South Africa.
Meghan then stayed in South Africa and visited the Woodstock Exchange, which encourages women entrepreneurs.
Day four – 26 September
The duke paid a working visit to Botswana and first traveled to Chobe Forest Tree Reserve to plant trees with school children and raise awareness of the fragility of these vital ecosystems.
Prince Harry then spent the evening of 26 September in a new demolition camp of HALO Trust.
Meghan Markle participated in a Women in Public Service breakfast at the High Commission in Cape Town.
Day five – 27 September
The duke exploded a mine at a distance in a field outside of Dirico. He saw aspects of the legacy that his mother Princess Diana started raising awareness for the threat of landmines.
He later met members of the local community and victims of landmines. His Royal Highness will comment on the importance of continuous mine clearance.
Day six – 28 September
The duke attended an audience with Angolan president Lourenço in the presidential palace.
He then visited the Lucrécia Paim Maternity Clinic to see the work of a project led by First Lady Ana Dias Lourenço "Born Free to Shine" that focuses on preventing HIV / AIDS transmission from mothers to babies.
Meanwhile, Meghan visited a memorial for a young South African woman whose rape and murder inspired thousands of people to protest the country's high rate of sexual violence.
Day seven – September 29
The duke arrives in Lilongwe, Malawi in the morning. He will later visit the Nalikule College of Education and communicate with a network of young women who are supported to attend and complete high school through UKAid scholarships through the female education campaign.
The duke will then attend an audience with President Peter Mutharika and attend a reception organized by the British High Commissioner in the evening.
Day eight – September 30
Prince Harry flies to Liwonde National Park to pay tribute to guard Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards, who lost his life in May 2019 during an anti-poaching patrol.
His Royal Highness will witness an anti-poaching demonstration exercise conducted jointly by local rangers and British soldiers deployed in Operation CORDED. To conclude,
His Royal Highness will devote Liwonde National Park and the adjacent Mangochi forest to the Queen Commonwealth Canopy project to protect the park against deforestation and other similar activities.
Day Nine – October 1
On the last day of his solo stage of the tour, the duke visits the Mauwa Heath Center before returning to South Africa.
Her Royal Highness will attend a round table discussion with the Association of Commonwealth Universities in Johannesburg. The duchess will meet academics and students to discuss the challenges young women face in accessing higher education.
Day ten – 2 October
The duke and duchess returned the previous evening and will visit a township near Johannesburg to meet inspiring local youth.
They will also meet Grace Machel, the widow of the late President Nelson Mandela. At the end of the tour, Their Royal Highnesses will attend an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Dr. Tshepo Motsepe. The royal family is leaving for London that evening.
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