Skip to main content

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s whirlwind trip to Nigeria has come and gone. As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex presumably make their way home to Montecito, California, an expert says King Charles III and Prince William likely want to make one thing absolutely “clear.” What? That the visit was in no way connected to the British royal family or government. 

Charles and William want it ‘made clear’ that Harry and Meghan didn’t represent ‘the royal family or Britain’ in Nigeria

Harry and Meghan spent May 10-12, 2024, in Nigeria on the heels of the former’s visit to London, England, to mark 10 years of the Invictus Games. It centered largely around the adaptive sporting competition founded by Harry as well as mental health.

However much it may have seemed like a royal tour—comparisons were made from the time of the trip’s announcement—it wasn’t, which is, per royal expert Jennie Bond, what Harry’s father and brother likely want “made clear.” 

“The king and Prince William are firmly of the belief that you are either in or out of the working royals,” the former BBC royal correspondent told OK! Magazine. Harry and Meghan left royal life in 2020. Meanwhile, there’s a small group of working royals as the king and Kate Middleton undergo cancer treatment. 

Harry and Meghan visited in a private capacity, which sources at the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed (via Daily Mail). It came after King Charles and Harry didn’t see each other in London and a so-called “snub” about his brother, the Prince of Wales, 41, taking over Harry’s former army regiment.

“This,” Bond said of Harry and Meghan’s Nigeria trip, “seems to be a rather strange halfway house. I think both the king and the prince, and indeed the [British] government, will want it to be made clear that Harry is not representing either the royal family or Britain on this trip.” 

So, who invited the couple? Nigeria’s minister of defense, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Badaru, whom Meghan and Harry met at the 2023 Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany, which saw the country represented in the competition for the first time.

Harry and Meghan’s Nigeria trip likely had royals ‘rolling their eyes’ at similarities 

Eye rolls are probably how Harry and Meghan’s trip to Nigeria likely went over behind palace walls, according to the Mail on Sunday’s Charlotte Griffiths. 

“Of course, they never try anything other than get a one-up on the royal family,” she told GB News. “But I think what they’re really doing is on paper, they’re trying to celebrate 10 years of Invictus Games.”

“They want to appear as quasi-royals,” she later added. “They want to carry on conducting quasi-tours as if they are still members of the royal family.”

“I think the fact they are going to a Commonwealth country when they describe the Commonwealth as Empire 2.0 is a little bit rich,” the commentator added, referencing comments made by authors and historians in the Harry & Meghan Netflix docuseries. 

There were also some noted “key differences” between the visit and Harry and Meghan’s past royal tours. “Despite similarities to their tours before stepping back as working royals in 2020, there were key differences,” Charlotte Wace wrote in the U.K.’s The Times

“The press pack had been replaced by one reporter and one photographer. Most significantly, they were representing themselves rather than the monarch and were free to choose their schedule. There appeared to be fewer formalities and more selfies compared with trips from the past.” 

What the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did in Nigeria

Harry and Meghan’s Nigeria itinerary resembled an official royal tour in many ways. There were speeches, photo ops, meeting members of the public, as well as lighter moments sprinkled in with moving ones. 

The couple kicked things off by visiting Lightway Academy in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, where they spoke about mental health. Later, they headed to Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters, where they met military leaders. 

The same day Harry also visited a nearby army hospital, where he toured wards and shook hands with wounded soldiers. 

Day two saw Meghan appear at a panel discussion solo on female leadership. There, she touched on learning of her own Nigerian heritage. (Meghan first discussed having taken a DNA test on her Archetypes podcast in 2022.) 

Other highlights included a game of sitting volleyball with Nigerian army veterans and a polo match appearance.