Hours after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made headlines Thursday by saying they would be in New York City Tuesday, Oct. 10, to participate in a panel discussion for World Mental Health Day, news broke that their estranged in-laws, Prince William and Kate Middleton, would host their own World Mental Health Day event, but in the U.K.
It would be nice to give these two couples and their teams the benefit of the doubt and figure that everyone has good intentions and wants to lend their famous names to support an important cause — youth mental health. After all, the two couples once were known as the “Fab Four” and briefly united to support Heads Together, a campaign that William, Kate and Harry launched in 2016 to tackle the stigma of mental illness.
But these two couples have been locked in a bitter, high-profile, transatlantic feud over which side has done the other wrong in a number of royal rows, going back to before Harry and Meghan wed in 2018, as Harry has let the world know in his memoir “Spare.”
With the two couples now awkwardly scheduling same-day events for the same cause, back-and-forth accusations have already erupted among their respective supporters on social media over which side is trying to upstage the other and grab international attention for being more noble, philanthropic and truly engaged when it comes to supporting the cause of youth mental health.
It’s unclear which couple first announced their participation in a World Mental Health Day event. Early Friday, People magazine shared an announcement from Kensington Palace, which said that the Prince and Princess of Wales would help host “Exploring our Emotional Worlds,” a forum for young people in Birmingham, U.K. on Tuesday.
It’s not known when Kensington Palace actually issued this statement, which by the way is a bit of a mouthful. The statement says that this forum features “famous faces” from a U.K. radio station and “the wider mental health space” to allow young people “to talk about the specific mental health challenges their generation faces, explore what more they could do to understand and manage their emotions and discuss the solutions that could support them to better look after their own and each other’s mental well-being.”
Per Kensington Palace, the future king and queen also will carry out several, yet-to-be announced engagements next week in support of World Mental Health Day.
“The series of engagements follows Their Royal Highnesses’ longstanding commitment to encourage people to speak openly about their mental health, including through the milestone Heads Together campaign that was launched in 2016,” Kensington Palace said, according to People.
On Thursday, Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation delivered their own excessively wordy statement to People magazine, announcing that the California-based couple would be in New York City Tuesday to participate in a “summit” that will provide a platform for parents navigating their children’s mental health challenges in the digital age.”
While Archewell characterized Harry and Meghan’s event as a “summit,” it more accurately is a panel discussion that is part of a larger, daylong World Mental Health Day Festival, organized by Project Healthy Minds.
A number of events are taking place at the festival, and other celebrities will be in attendance, including “media icons” Carson Daly and Anderson Cooper. One of these events is Archewell’s self-described “Archewell Foundation Parents Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age.” According to the schedule, Daly will lead parents in a discussion on “building community and creating positive change for a safer online world for young people” — with Harry, Meghan and U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, listed as special guests.
Harry and Meghan’s announced appearance in New York next week already provoked furious online discussion overnight Thursday because the last time they were in the Big Apple they suffered heir biggest-ever public relations debacle. That was in May, when the sometimes polarizing couple were accused of exaggerating claims that they had been the targets of a “near-catastrophic” car chase through the streets of Manhattan.
During that visit, the media soon forgot that Meghan was in New York City to accept a Women of Vision Award from the Ms. Foundation for her advocacy to empower women and girls. The following morning, the couple put out a statement claiming that aggressive paparazzi had forced them into a dangerous pursuit through the streets of Manhattan, which lasted two hours and caused “multiple near collisions” with other drivers, pedestrians and police officers.
But these claims were challenged by major media figures who laughed off the idea that anyone could be involved in a car chase in congested Manhattan and by an extensive report by the New York Times, photographers who had been following the couple and the New York City Police Department, which quickly concluded that their claims warranted “no further investigation.” Royal observers soon criticized the couple for raising the specter of Princess Diana’s 1997 and for continuing the “victim” narrative they have created around themselves since stepping away from royal duties in 2020.