Mar 10, 2021 - Economy

New royals, new media

Illustration of a stack of television, cell phone, and tablet screens showing a giant crown.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Megxit is Brexit all over again. That's the lesson from the explosive interview that future streaming stars Meghan Markle and her high-born husband gave to Oprah Winfrey on Sunday evening.

Why it matters: In Brexit, a group of old, white English people voted for the glories of an imagined past while rejecting a global, multicultural future. The main lesson of the interview is that the UK royal family, tied to a crumbling tabloid press, is behaving much the same way.

How it works: Prince Harry detailed the symbiotic relationship between the royal family and the UK tabloids. Meanwhile, a glowing Meghan and Harry, happily ensconced in Santa Barbara luxury, are doing deals with Netflix and Spotify estimated at $100 million and $25 million respectively.

  • The erstwhile royals might still be reliant on media companies — but the media companies they're reliant on are young, international, and much richer than the tabloids.
  • By the numbers: Netflix reaches more than 200 million subscribers; Spotify reaches more than 150 million premium subscribers and has a total user base of some 350 million. The Sun, by contrast, Britain's biggest tabloid, has a circulation of just 1.2 million, while rival the Daily Mirror reaches less than 400,000.

Driving the news: The foremost avatar of anti-Meghan tabloid sentiment is Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror with a grubby history involving phone tapping, insider trading, and faked photos.

  • Morgan resigned from his daytime-TV gig this week after saying on air that he "didn't believe a word" of Markle's claims.

The bottom line: Harry has gone solo, much like his namesake from One Direction. Just like Vogue cover star Styles, he could easily end up eclipsing his increasingly irrelevant former bandmates.

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