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Harry and Meghan’s ‘Heart of Darkness’



It should have been a simple trip to London. Prince Harry arrived on Tuesday to attend a worthy cause. Yesterday, he celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games at St. Paul’s Cathedral — an event Harry co-founded in 2014 to honor wounded soldiers and military veterans that now includes 23 nations.

He did so alone. His wife, Meghan, the duchess of Sussex, remained in Montecito, as did King Charles III’s two young grandchildren.

Harry did not make time to see his ailing father, who was diagnosed with an unspecified cancer in February. Preemptively, Harry’s office released a statement disingenuously claiming it was due to “his father’s diary of commitments and various other priorities.”

But sons are always priorities, even to kings.

The duke of Sussex’s estrangement from his family uncomfortably continues, including from his brother William, the prince of Wales, and his sister-in-law, Catherine, the princess of Wales. What should have been the start of an inspiring trip that ends later this week in Nigeria has now turned into a dystopian exercise reminiscent of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”

Meghan’s decision to shun King Charles once again is par for the course — essentially declaring herself persona non grata in the United Kingdom. So too, in effect, at least from a public perception standpoint, is Meghan’s preventing the king from seeing her children, in effect weaponizing them against the king.

But familial darkness is a small matter, compared to carelessly spreading darkness on the global stage. Geopolitical and national security implications are very much in play right now in the Sahel in sub-Saharan Africa.

Harry and Meghan’s initial decision to accept Nigerian Defense Minister Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Badaru’s invitation to visit Abuja this week was completely above reproach. Nigeria is hopeful of soon hosting a future Invictus Games, and Nigeria is a vital ally in an increasingly destabilized yet strategically important region of Africa.

Meghan’s machinations, however, have changed all of that.

By refusing to travel to London with Harry, and by failing to bring her children along with them to see King Charles and Queen Camilla, Meghan intentionally put the media spotlight on herself just in time for it to highlight her trip to Nigeria.

Hollywood power games may play to one’s advantage in Tinseltown. But in the real world of foreign policy and national security, Harry and Meghan are only naively strengthening the hands of Moscow and Beijing.

Instead of arriving in Abuja as the beloved daughter-in-law of the UK’s reigning monarch, who is also the head of the 56-member Commonwealth of Nations, Meghan chose to travel alone to Nigeria — and, in effect, to play the role of the aggrieved royal outcast bearing the self-proclaimed scars of modern-day British racism.

To be sure, legacy racism persists in the UK as it does in other countries, including the U.S. However, the UK is not a racist country, nor one defined by racism. Just look at the people British voters put in power. Rishi Sunak, England’s prime minister, is of Punjabi Indian heritage, the son of Hindu parents who were born in East Africa. Sadiq Khan, the three-term mayor of London, is of Pakistani descent and the son of Sunni Muslims. Until Tuesday, Humza Yousaf, himself a Muslim, was the first minister of Scotland.

All three men are representative of the cosmopolitan England that came into its prime during the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II and as a result of her counsel.

That is the messaging that Harry and Meghan should be bringing to Nigeria. One of the UK’s commitment to the Commonwealth, especially in Africa, and the relevance of the Global South in modern-day England, Scotland and Wales.

Instead, we are witnessing a redux of “Empire 2.0” — the notion that the Commonwealth is just a modern-day imperialist enterprise, that Harry and Meghan foolishly allowed themselves to first become associated with it in their eponymous Netflix series and their Oprah Winfrey interview, when they raised still-unsubstantiated claims of racism in the Royal Family.

Harry and Meghan are not simply “popping in” to a Nigeria detached from the regional realities of Sub-Saharan Africa. Niger, an impoverished country to its north in the western Sahel, underwent a coup in 2023. U.S. forces were expelled from an airbase being used to surveil and interdict Boko Haram, essentially a “Nigerian Taliban,” and ISIS operating in West Africa.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military forces began using Airbase 101. Moscow is rapidly building military and economic inroads into the region, including in nearby Chad, Mali and Burkina Faso, and toppling previously stable democracies throughout the Sahel in the process.

One key factor in overthrowing once western-friendly countries is Putin’s propaganda wars aimed at painting the UK and its NATO allies as modern-day western imperialists and unrepentant racists. Putin does this in concert with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of their coordinated effort to undermine and destroy the Commonwealth in Africa.

Harry and Meghan’s most virulent fandom, often referred to as the ‘Sussex Squad,’ fail to understand the tragic extent to which African nationals are being placed in harm’s way by Moscow and Beijing. Now, as Western interests are being attacked in the Sahel, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are unwittingly aiding Putin and Xi’s by continuing to undermine King Charles as head-of-state and head of the Commonwealth.

Millions of African civilians in the Sahel are now being actively economically exploited by Russia and China. National resources are being stolen, and in hundreds of cases, they are being brutally massacred by Russian paramilitary groups. Ditto in the Central African Republic, Sudan and across the entire African continent — and Nigeria, courtesy of Boko Haram, is high on Putin and Xi’s wish list in Africa.

Democracy dies in darkness, but also in naiveté. Harry and Meghan must ditch their “Knives Out” approach to King Charles that was on display in Jamaica and recognize that, when they operate on the world stage, their decisions and actions result in very real consequences because of who Harry’s father is and the role he plays in global affairs.

Unfortunately, Harry and Meghan remain self-servingly lost in propagating a dystopian “Heart of Darkness” that in reality ostensibly no longer exists. Western imperialism and racism of old are not destroying modern-day Africa. Rather, Russian and Chinese military and economic imperialism are subjugating sub-Saharan Africa, increasingly through violence and anti-democratic oppression.

Mark Toth writes on national security and foreign policy. Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet served 30 years as a military intelligence officer.

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