Waxing lyrical

14 August 2019 | Liz Bowen
In shock news this week Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have split…or at least, their waxworks have.

Earlier this week it was announced that Madame Tussauds London has separated the waxworks of the Sussexes for the first time since they were unveiled just before their wedding last year, in order to mirror their ‘independent’ statuses.

Or, to be specific, Meghan’s own ‘independent celebrity status’ at least. In a statement, Madame Tussauds GM Steve Davies said the move was made based on “what people have to say about their favourite stars” and allows Meghan to “mingle in her more-familiar celebrity circle.”

That circle includes Tom Hardy, the Beckhams and actress Priyanka Chopra, all of whom coincidentally also attended the couple’s royal nuptials in May 2018.

Harry, meanwhile, has been reunited with The Firm.

However, the move has received massive backlash on Twitter, with many accusing Madame Tussauds of contributing to the perceived racism and bigotry around Meghan’s role as a royal, by insinuating former actress, the Duchess of Sussex, would feel more comfortable in her A-list circle – a position she essentially gave up on her wedding day.

Many commentators have also questioned why Meghan’s ‘independent’ status can’t be demonstrated while she continues to stand next to her husband, saying the move is just another insult to the Duchess’ position. To add further insult to injury, in a now-deleted tweet (when will people learn?!), Madame Tussauds said Prince Harry was going “back to his royal roots” – further implying his marriage to Markle has ousted the couple to the periphery.

The move has been brought to the fore further afield, specifically down under, with correspondents on Sunrise Australia claiming the move is simply an attempt to garner headlines – which it has done.

While the programme didn’t dig too deeply into the cultural debate behind the move, they did question the validity of Meghan’s perceived ‘A-list celebrity’ status and said “times must be tough” for Madame Tussauds if they have to employ such a move to “get some more people through the door”.

I’ll admit, I agree with the sentiment. While I had heard of Suits – I even watched the first few episodes – I’d never heard of Meghan Markle until she stepped out with everyone’s favourite prince, so it does seem a little contradictory. Indeed, if anything, those on Sunrise Australia make a good point when they say she should stay in the royal section where she belongs – because in the UK, her adopted home, that is exactly where she belongs not in the latest nightclub on the celebrity circuit.

Ultimately, whatever their reasoning, Madame Tussauds has made a massive faux pas with this seemingly backwards move. There was no waxwork of Meghan Markle the actress, so why seemingly demote her back down to that position now she is the much higher-ranking Duchess of Sussex?

While I’m sure there was no malice behind the move and it’s not a reflection on Madame Tussaud's opinion on the social commentary surrounding the Duchess, given the ferocity of the conversation that has surrounded the Duchess ever since it was announced she was dating Prince Harry, it was clear the decision would be a bad one.

As a London institution itself, Madame Tussauds should respect the repute that comes with such a position and the Duchess of Sussex surely deserves the same?

Thinking of your next PR stunt? Let us help you make the right move.