Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Must Take High-Stakes Gamble

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should take a high-stakes gamble and attend the 96th Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood this year, presenting them with a “make or break” opportunity, an entertainment expert has told Newsweek.

Since sensationally splitting from the monarchy in 2020 and staking out on their own in California, the royal couple have made inroads into Hollywood, creating their own production company and signing multi-million-dollar streaming deals.

The transition from duke and duchess to Hollywood royalty, however, has not been smooth, with the couple facing several industry setbacks and embarrassments despite maintaining their headline- and attention-grabbing appeal.

Now, with the 96th Academy Award nominations announced, the March 10 ceremony could provide the royal couple with the perfect opportunity to be seen with the literal and metaphorical winners of the entertainment elite, something the Sussexes’ brand could only benefit from, according to Mark Boardman, entertainment expert and founder of MarkMeets.

“Meghan and Harry’s Hollywood ambitions are clear, but their integration into the A-list has been slower than anticipated,” he told Newsweek.

Composite image showing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as photographed in Jamaica, January 23, 2024. Harry and Meghan attending the Oscars could be a “make or break” moment for the royal duo, Newsweek has…


Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

“In my opinion, attending the Oscars could be a make-or-break moment for them. The Oscars is the biggest showbiz night of the year and it celebrates the best of the movie world, and whilst this year’s nominations have been criticized…the ceremony remains a cultural touchstone, sparking conversations, influencing trends, and showcasing the incredible talent and creativity that cinema offers, and everyone who’s anyone will be there.”

Boardman notes that as the awards ceremony approaches, discussion around whether Harry and Meghan will or won’t attend the main event itself or the several high-profile parties thrown around it each year, will naturally grow.

“The Oscars aren’t just about statuettes; they’re a star-studded networking magnet,” he said, expanding on what benefits the couple could reap from making an appearance.

“Rubbing shoulders with power players could open doors for future projects, production deals, and even lucrative endorsements…The sheer star power at the Oscars is unparalleled. Mingling with industry elites could open doors to lucrative projects and production deals as everyone will be chatting before, during and after the event including at the many after parties. Meghan, in particular, could finally land the blockbuster roles she’s aiming for if she makes the right connections and really wants it to happen.

“A well-received appearance could reposition the Sussexes as cultural influencers, and not just tabloid staples.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Red Carpet
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex photographed in London, July 14, 2017. The couple founded their on production company after splitting from the monarchy in 2020.

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Boardman notes that the couple couldn’t just turn up to the world-famous event but would need to receive an invitation to attend from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Or, he suggested, they could secure the bigger honor of being asked to present an award on the night. It is not yet known if either of these invites has been extended.

“Imagine them championing important causes from the Oscars stage, or better being asked to present an award thus cementing their status as Hollywood royalty with a conscience,” he said. “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s presence at the Oscars could signal a definitive shift in public perception, transitioning them from royal figures to bona fide Hollywood players.”

However, the big benefits that could arise from such an appearance also come with equal risk, which, for a couple so contentiously viewed by the public as Harry and Meghan will have to consider.

“At such an event, every smile, every handshake will be dissected and analyzed,” Boardman said. “One awkward encounter could become endless tabloid fodder, derailing their carefully crafted image.

“Ultimately, the Oscars are a double-edged sword. Success could propel them towards Hollywood royalty, while a misstep could leave them bruised and tabloid fodder. They can also be a magnet for negativity. Attending could reignite criticism of their perceived disconnect from real-world issues, especially if their recent actions don’t align with the causes they champion.”

If Harry and Meghan were then to receive an invite to the prestigious ceremony, Boardman concluded, their decision to attend would hinge on their “risk tolerance.”

Newsweek approached representatives of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex via email for comment.

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek‘s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

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