Over the past few months, multiple surveys have confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just aren’t as popular as they used to be.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were never terribly well-liked in the UK, but throughout 2023, a surprising new trend has emerged, as the couple’s popularity has been on decline among Americans since at least January.
That was the month when Harry’s memoir was published, and the Sussexes’ recent PR struggles seem to stem largely from the public’s mixed reaction to the book.
The situation has been exacerbated by other mini-scandals, including the ongoing skepticism surrounding Harry and Meghan’s claim that they were chased through through the streets of Manhattan by a fleet of paparazzi vehicles.
The downturn has already hit the Sussexes in the pocketbook, as Meghan’s Spotify podcast was canceled after just one season amid mixed reviews and disappointing ratings.
So you can be sure that Team Sussex is making a concerted effort to turn these trends around.
But if social media is any indication, thus far, those efforts are not yet paying off.
According to a new report from Newsweek, Meghan and Harry inspire a tremendous amount of original content on TikTok, “but the conversation tends quite negative,” while “the overall consensus is that they seem to favor Kate” over Meghan.
This is according to research conducted by the social media intelligence platform Hootsuite on Newsweek‘s behalf.
The study also found that while TikTok users post about Meghan more frequently, they seem to take a more positive view of Kate.
Gen Z is the dominant demographic on TikTok, so these findings run counter to the narrative that Harry and Meghan are more popular than the rest of the royals among teens and young adults.
“Meghan and Harry are the most talked about couple on TikTok—but the conversation tends quite negative with most people being highly critical about their relationship,” says Hootsuite social marketing specialist Eileen Kwok.
Kate, on the other hand, seems to enjoy widespread support from the folks who create royal content on TikTok.
“There are a lot of comments on TikTok about her beauty and her timelessness,” says Kwok.
“It took us several scrolls to find a negative video compared to Meghan where the first video that popped up did a deep dive into her scandals,” she explains.
“The crowd on TikTok loves to compare the two but the overall consensus is that they seem to favor Kate.”
The Hootsuite analysis revealed that the top keywords associated with Meghan on TikTok were “divorce,” “prince harry,” “being rude,” “narcissistic,” and “awkward.”
Conversely, Kate was generally associated with more neutral words like “tennis,” “paparazzi,” and “coronation.”
“From this data, it looks like the crowd on TikTok is searching for negative behavior,” Kwok says.
“The first video that popped up were clips ‘exposing’ Meghan of bad behavior,” she continues.
“Other videos pointed to commenting on her looks (surgery speculations), her ‘dark secrets,’ before/after images, and her style (which is something the crowd on TikTok loves).”
Needless to say,
Of course, previous studies indicated that Meghan was the target of a coordinated harassment campaign on Twitter, and most of the negative tweets about her originated from just a handful of accounts.
It’s entirely possible that something similar is happening on TikTok.
Whatever the case, it seems that Gen Z’s favorite app will not be the platform from which Harry and Meghan launch their comeback.