Prince Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are back in the headlines yet again, this time after being honored this week as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021.
The honor comes with a glowing writeup by their friend, World Central Kitchen chef and founder Jose Andrés, who said that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “turn compassion into boots on the ground through their Archewell Foundation” and “give voice to the voiceless through media production.”
In addition to Andrés’ essay, the honor comes with a Time magazine cover. However, the cover photo of the British prince and his former TV actress wife is leaving some people scratching their heads.
“In a world where everyone has an opinion about people they don’t know, the duke and duchess have compassion for the people they don’t know. They don’t just opine. They run toward the struggle,” writes @chefjoseandres #TIME100 https://t.co/2Cg39BKj1B pic.twitter.com/FhFmAW9UH1
— TIME (@TIME) September 15, 2021
Certainly, the Sussexes’ die-hard social media fans love the photo and are praising them for looking “gorgeous,” “iconic” and inspirational to so many around the world. “I love his beads,” exclaimed one person. “I love her nails. Her Hair! Perfect.”
But others replying to Time’s tweet of the cover image say that the photo looks “off,” “stiff” or “fake.” They say their pose seems “unnatural” and note that the photo appears heavily edited so as to remove any flaws or lines. Some even wonder if separate images images of the two were edited together.
“What a strange photo … it’s made to look like Harry is the same height as Meghan … is he bending over?” remarked one person in the start of one thread.
When someone claimed the “beautiful photo” was arranged so that the “effortlessly cool” duo would appear to be of the same height and therefore of equal status, another person replied: “The only effort in this pic is the person who’s photoshopped 2 different pictures together.”
Someone else said, “Looks a bit too ‘plasticky’? The photoshop is rich on this one.”
And yet another critic remarked, “The cover looks so fake… oh wait it’s because they are,” while someone else addressed the editing: “Looks like a really bad case of photoshop.”
In the hundreds of replies, people also argued back and forth over whether the Sussexes truly are compassionate people who are doing good in the world.
Harry and and his American wife gave up being full-time senior royals in 2020 and moved to the United States, settling into a $14 million mansion in Montecito. In their blockbuster interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Sussexes talked about the need for privacy and to escape the mentally harmful environment of royal life, which included constant criticism from the U.K. tabloid media.
Since arriving in the United States, the Sussexes have launched their own charitable foundation and signed multi-million dollar deals with Netflix and Spotify to produce positive, uplifting podcasts, documentaries and children’s series.
But the Sussexes have become divisive figures, especially in Harry’s native Britain. Critics accuse them of trading in on their connections to Queen Elizabeth II and a promise to continue the flow of royal gossip. In their Oprah Winfrey interview, they made a number of damaging allegations against the royal family, including that one family member said racist things about their son before he was born.
But Harry and Meghan’s defenders are praising their Time honor: “Amazing cover!” wrote one person. “Love all the good work they are doing despite the vicious attacks coming at them by The Firm. Keep up the good work #HarryAndMeghan! Your humanitarian work speaks for itself.
“Beautiful words by Jose Andres,” said another. “They are truly iconic. It’s time their haters stop lying to themselves about it.”
In his Time essay, Andres also wrote: “In a world where everyone has an opinion about people they don’t know, the duke and duchess have compassion for the people they don’t know. They don’t just opine. They run toward the struggle.”
But a number questioned whether Harry and Meghan are truly compassionate, given the dirty laundry they’ve aired about his family, especially just before the death in April of his 99-year-old grandfather, Prince Philip.
“How can they have compassion for those they don’t know, when they have no compassion for those who they do know, like their own family,” asked one person.
Others laughed off their claims of wanting privacy. “I have compassion for them,” one wrote. “I feel so bad that people who begged for privacy end up on the front cover of Time.”