Prince Harry and Meghan Markle quit as senior members of the British royal family last year, but their ongoing trip to New York appears like a royal tour for multiple reasons.
To start with, the couple arrived in the city with extremely heavy security, much more than what other A-list celebrities keep with them. They were accompanied by a large security detail even when they joined their friends Misha Nonoo and Mikey Hess for drinks at the swanky Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel. Witnesses said that they pulled up with tens of cars and about 20 guards, who took over tables around them trying to blend in as they enjoyed their cocktails.
According to a report in Mail Online, the couple might even be receiving federal protection during their visit. One of the bodyguards escorting them around the city claimed that he works for the Department of Homeland Security, but didn't specify which agency. In addition, multiple New York Police Department officers were spotted when they took a tour of the One World Trade Center.
Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service Agent, said that it was possible that HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) or other agents from another DHS agency were supplementing the State Department's protective efforts during the busy UN session, and Harry and Meghan could also have received this protection during their visit to UN. Harry used to be protected by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service during past official visits to the US due to his status as a working senior British royal.
Wackrow noted that though Harry and Meghan are no longer senior royals, they are still family members of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and can reasonably expect some government protection while in a high threat environment, such as Manhattan during the general assembly.
"If something were to happen in New York, and the government were not extending protection to the Duke and Duchess, that would be a major diplomatic incident," he explained.
Apart from their security detail, there were several other reasons that suggested that Harry and Meghan are not your regular celebrities, as they were treated like royalty all throughout the day. The royals enjoyed a private sightseeing visit hosted by NY's mayor and governor, had a meeting with the US ambassador to the UN, and were even allowed a tour of the 9/11 Memorial which is currently closed to the public.
The duo are in New York to make an appearance at the Global Citizen Live event at Central Park on Saturday to push for coronavirus vaccine equity, but have participated in several high-profile public events before then, much similar to the numerous royal engagements they did in their life as senior royals. In addition, they have brought along a personal photographer, Matt Sayles, to document their trip.
Several social media users are also of the opinion that the Sussexes as well as their hosts have treated their visit like a royal tour. One wrote, "There needs to be a clear separation from the monarchy and royal duties to 'private citizens'. Why are their titles used to sound like a visit is a royal tour??!!"
Another user commented, "It's just wrong for them to do that because they aren't working for the Firm anymore and aren't neutral at all and to be with that man while using the titles! It's a big mistake."