Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who have displayed a united front in a series of joint outings at the Invictus Games, did not do enough to quash cruel rumours about their marriage, according to an expert.
A PR and crisis management expert claimed it could be down to Meghan's "own goal", not appearing with Harry at the Games from the start of the tournament.
Ed Coram James, CEO of Go Up, told The Mirror that the Sussexes are in the middle of a "PR storm".
The expert explained: "From a PR point of view it makes sense for them to go their professional ways for a period of time. Their professional brand, that as the husband-and-wife team 'the Sussexes' has become somewhat professionally toxic in the past year."
James added: "If the idea is to put those rumours to bed, then the Duchess not attending the Invictus opening was another mistake in a long line of PR mistakes made by Meghan. In not attending, she fed red meat to the sharks. If you’re trying to show the world that you’re strong as a couple, you make public appearances when they matter."
"And, from an optics point of view, what matters more than arguably the biggest personal achievement of your husband, his internationally famous and acclaimed Invictus Games. It represents an own goal for Meghan on a number of fronts."
"Firstly, it has further fed the marital troubles rumour. Secondly, it is a missed PR opportunity. Even the Sussexes' biggest online detractors acknowledge that Harry did something truly special with the Invictus Games. Meghan would be well advised to associate herself with them."
Harry was in Germany for the duration of eight days of the event, while Meghan did not arrive until several days after the opening ceremony. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent almost a week together at the sporting event in Dusseldorf and continued to be as tactile as expected with hand-holding, loving glances and supportive gestures.
James also spoke of Princes William and Princess Kate, saying: "On the other hand, the Princess of Wales has the reputational capital to miss William’s Earthshot Prize without causing any ripples. There have been no split rumours between her and William, so not attending isn’t feeding any gossip fires. And she’s been keeping herself busy with broadly popular initiatives."
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