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Voices: Much like Harry and Meghan, Sussex.com needs to work a bit harder

Clap happy: Harry and Meghan on a visit to Dusseldorf  (AP)
Clap happy: Harry and Meghan on a visit to Dusseldorf (AP)

I realise that I may well be in a minority here, but I find myself rather more taken with Leicester City’s second-tier clash with Sheffield Wednesday this evening than the somewhat hyperventilated reaction to the Sussexes’ new website.

I’ve had a look around sussex.com, and I have to say I’m at a bit of a loss as to what the fuss, in some quarters, is all about – or, indeed, what the website is all about, aside from it being nothing to do with East Sussex County Council.

Rather like the lives of the sort-of ex-royal couple, it’s all a bit amorphous, free of focus and unreal. It’s quite classy looking, verging on minimalist, though that may be a reflection of what little is actually going on in their lives since they signed their Netflix deal. Others have noted how the rebrand leans heavily on their regal status – from the new URL down – but doesn’t once mention the monarchy.

They’ve only cashed in on their sort-of ex-royal status a bit with their latest online presence. There is the slightly archaic use of their ducal Sussex arms and their actual names, which, to be fair, can’t really be avoided. They haven’t, on this site, talked about their royal roles (because they haven’t got any) – nor have they published lots of new photos of them with the King, the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales, because there aren’t any.

Their increasing alienation from the British royal family, and I’m leaving the blame for that to one side for now, has forced them into trying to redefine themselves. The less they see “The Firm”, the less they are actively associated with it and, frankly, the less material there is available to them. They aren’t going to be able to mine many more royal secrets or reveal their traumas if they don’t know much about what’s been going on, and there haven’t been any more upsetting incidents. This is probably just as well, for all concerned.

But it does leave the Sussexes without much to say. There’s a link to the now-defunct sussexroyal.com site – which I always thought sounded like it was to do with a potato marketing board – where their careers in public service on behalf of the Queen are celebrated, but that’s definitely all archival, in every sense.

So the “exploitation” of their royal links isn’t very evident on this revamped website. There is quite a bit of uplifting stuff about their charitable causes, but much less about where the money is coming from. Indeed, one of the more disappointing aspects is the absence of any attempt to get the casual visitor to the website to fill out a direct debit (“£15 a month can keep a Sussex prince in nappies”), or hire one of the pair for a personal appearance at your local Rotarians’ next Ladies Night, shall we say.

The pages related to the Archwell activities – or “Arentchawelloff”, as Private Eye styles them – are notably bare. What you do get is endless supposedly life-affirming mottos, like you get on greetings cards or on those signs you’re supposed to hang up in the kitchen, words that sound profound but in fact are either meaningless or sadly untrue, such as: “Each of us can change our communities. All of us can change the world.”

If that were true, then Harry and Megs, and indeed the rest of us, could have sorted out all the nastiness going on in Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine by now. But we haven’t because it’s cobblers.

I’m sorry to say that as worthy as much of the content is, and it’s mostly well-meaning guff, I’d have rather that sussex.com were jam-packed with the kind of royal gossip and trivia that made Harry and Meghan the celebrities they are today. Where are the clips from the Oprah interview? The more salacious bits from the Netflix documentaries? The exclusive new material about the way they were crucified by the press and the latest legal actions?

There’s no mention of what they think about Piers Morgan, Queen Camilla, Thomas Markle or Jeremy Clarkson, no extracts from the autobiography Spare, nor even some new video of the pet chickens. Not even a section headed “the Best of Suits”.

The pair, whose finances are carefully left unexplored on sussex.com, will need to do a bit better than this content-free effort if they want a bit of traffic and some sponsored revenues. At the moment they’re just like any other celeb couple with aristocratic connections looking to make a living in this tough old world, coping with being overshadowed by the likes of Taylor Swift.

Which may be, on the other hand, the kind of life they’ve always wanted but never realised it. Digitally, at least, they have found freedom.