It was the baby gift that was heard around the world. Tiny and white with black stripes, with the lucky recipient's name emblazoned across the back, the adorable outfit was the epitome of heart-rendingly sweet, made even more so when the bub's parents proudly held it aloft for a photographer.

On this day last year, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, was scheduled to appear at London Stadium for the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees baseball game in support of the Invictus Games Foundation.

To the joy of himself, the dozens of US professional players who had flown in for the event and the 57,000 people in attendance at the stadium, his wife Megan, Duchess of Sussex, also appeared.

Having only given birth seven weeks before (and having only previously broken her maternity leave to attend Trooping the Colour) the unexpected sporting outing marked the Duchess' return to the royal front lines and boy, the future looked bright.


She beamed, Harry beamed, the Yankees beamed.

(I'm guessing even the Queen, when she saw the images the next day as she perused The Times, beamed while humming Love is In the Air and treating herself to a celebratory second piece of toast.)

The teams even gave Harry and Meghan a tiny Yankees jersey for Archie.

Prince Harry and Meghan with a gift from the New York Yankees before their game against the Boston Red Sox at London Stadium a year ago today. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry and Meghan with a gift from the New York Yankees before their game against the Boston Red Sox at London Stadium a year ago today. Photo / Getty Images

However, like a lot of fairytales, despite the fact that Harry and Meghan looked like they were basking in the glow of their own happily ever after, things were already starting to sour that day.

Archie's birth seemed like it would serve as a fresh start for the Sussexes after having weathered month upon month of PR storms over everything from their million-dollar Frogmore Cottage renovation, staff upheaval, and the incessant talk of their his'n hers family feuds.

It seemed like the bub's arrival would represent something of an entente cordiale between the controversial couple, the press and the tut-tutting segments of the public who did not approve of their disregard for the regal status quo.

It was to be the briefest cessation of hostilities, with the way that news of Archie's birth was announced, and later the handling of his christening, angering some sectors of the population anew.

Likewise, multiple reports have made the case that by this point in time in 2019, Harry's relationship with his once close brother Prince William had essentially disintegrated.


Only two weeks before the baseball outing, and after months of speculation and rumour, it had been confirmed that Harry and Meghan would be parting ways with the Royal Foundation, the charitable body that William and Harry set up in 2009.

No matter how much forced jollity the Kensington Palace spin doctors tried to put on the move, the symbolism was painfully clear: The last official tie between the Wales brothers had been severed.

As 2019 progressed, the rate at which brickbats were lobbed at Harry and Meghan only gathered pace and ferocity. Despite their climate change activism, they were popping around the Med in private jets, leading to accusations of hypocrisy.

They eschewed the traditional mass decampment of Windsors from England to head to Scotland for the Queen's lengthy summer break, which was read as quite the regal slight. Making matters even more controversial was the fact that Meghan still found the time to head to New York to see good friend Serena Williams play the final of the US Open the same month.

On October 1, Harry published a searing statement taking aim at the press and announcing the first of three lawsuits the Sussexes would file against British newspapers, escalating tensions with UK's Fleet Street.

We all know what happened next: The teary TV interviews; the sabbatical in Canada; their exodus announced via Instagram; the wrangling over HRHs and bodyguards before finally, after a frigid family outing at March's Commonwealth Day service this year, the fairy tale shattered irrevocably.


One year on from Harry and Meghan's baseball day out and the juxtaposition could not be more marked.

When they sashayed out of Westminster Abbey in March, it seemed ordained that once they were officially released from royal duty on April 1, they would essentially set themselves up as an alternative royal court, a glamorous, contemporary and global substitute to the staid Windsors, a true dynasty for the Instagram age.

COVID-19's devastating march put paid to that. Harry and Meghan were left to shelter in a Beverly Hills mansion belonging to movie supremo Tyler Perry while their ability to capitalise on the wave of pro-Sussex momentum evaporated in the face of a devastating new social and economic reality.

Despite the fact that the Sussexes have been out of the UK for three months, they (or at least their brand) are still very much mired in the royal soap opera. To start with, there is the current flurry of royal tell-alls that have, and will, hit shelves in coming months starting with Lady Colin Campbell's Meghan and Harry: The Real Story which was out last week.

Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle at the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox game at London Stadium on June 29 2019. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle at the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox game at London Stadium on June 29 2019. Photo / Getty Images

In it Lady Colin alleges that at a 2018 dinner party with "a scion of the aristocracy with impeccable palace connections," she was told that Meghan had allegedly said to Harry, "This is really boring. Let's leave," during her first official royal engagement which had taken place only days after the Sussexes' wedding.

If the Duke and Duchess were looking for any respite from the ongoing drama it looks like they are set to be sorely disappointed. It would seem that Harry and Meghan's 683 days as HRHs will be a rich vein for royal writers for years – nay, decades – to come. At stake is control of the narrative and apportioning of blame for quite what triggered the Sussexes' exit, which can only ever be read as a devastating blow to the royal family.


Last week saw Harry and Meghan ventured out of their vast, faux-Tuscan, bolthole to visit Homeboy Industries, one of the biggest gang intervention and rehabilitation programs in the world, their first quasi-official, real world charitable outing since pitching up in California in March.

While it bore all the hallmark characteristics of a Sussex engagement – a progressive cause, a very personal touch, and all perfectly captured for social media – it also served to highlight how stymied (if not bound and gagged) they are right now to actually prosecute their philanthropic agenda.

In April this year, news of their embryonic charitable foundation Archewell was revealed, however its launch will now only take place in 2021. For Harry and Meghan, people whose work ethic and drive are unimpeachable, this must be deeply frustrating. (Similarly, the fact they have no Instagram or social media presence given they are no longer able to use their Sussex Royal account.)

All of this is coming to pass during one of the most profound periods of social change in a generation as Black Lives Matter sweeps the globe. With race, equality and systemic discrimination all suddenly at the fore of the global conversation, there is a certain cruel irony that two public figures who have previously focused on these very issues currently have no official outlet or channel through which to amplify or engage with this powerful movement.

At a moment when they should be poised to lead, how do they do so without a platform?

Harry and Meghan are now existing in a sort of twilight zone, stuck in a sort of no man's land, having left their royal identities behind and yet unable to forge and unveil their new ones as global leaders and philanthropists.


As 2020 churns along, a year marked by profound worldwide suffering, all I can say is this: Damn, I wish we had gotten to see Archie in that tiny Yankees uniform. We need all the cute we can get right now.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.