• The exiled royal couple are set to head to Nigeria for an unofficial tour in May

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been accused of wanting their own ‘rival royal roadshow’ as they embark on their first non-official royal tour of Nigeria, with royal experts claiming the couple are trying to ‘have their cake and eat it’.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are set to travel to the African country in May after being invited by its chief of defence staff to take part in ‘cultural activities’ and meet service members on an unofficial visit. 

One royal commentator accused the couple of ‘playing the “Royal Card”‘ as their ‘income lifeline’ while another said it was ‘ironic’ the couple are happy to visit Commonwealth countries but not as official royal ambassadors.  

Yesterday, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau expressed ‘honour and delight’ that the couple had accepted the invitation to visit the country, after meeting Harry at last year’s Invictus Games.

Their tour of Nigeria will take place just days after the Prince is set to fly to the UK to mark the tenth anniversary of the Invictus Games at a service at St Paul’s Cathedral. No senior members of the royal family are expected to attend. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured on April 12 in Florida) have been accused of wanting their own ‘rival royal roadshow’ as they embark on their first non-official royal tour of Nigeria
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (pictured in South Africa in 2019) are set to travel to the African country in May after being invited by its chief of defence staff
Harry and Meghan’s acceptance of the invitation – their first visit to Nigeria as a couple – is said to have left the country’s defence headquarters feeling ‘honoured’ and ‘delighted’ (Harry and Meghan pictured at the Invictus Games as they attend the Ukraine v Nigeria volleyball match)

Harry will then jet off to the Commonwealth country to meet his wife who is also not believed to be travelling alongside him to the UK, in what will be his first visit since Kate’s shock cancer diagnosis

READ ALSO: ‘No senior members of the Royal Family’ will join Prince Harry at UK Invictus event which he will also attend without Meghan before couple embark on their first non-official royal tour of Nigeria

Following the announcement of the trip, royal experts were quick to point out that the couple’s visit will be a royal tour in all but name – and could even confusion and threaten diplomatic relationships.

Royal biographer Tom Bower told MailOnline:  ‘Playing the “Royal Card” has become Meghan’s and Harry’s income lifeline. Once again, the ‘privacy-seeking’ couple are exploiting the family they have outrageously denounced to pump up their publicity.

‘Undoubtedly, the trip will be financed by the Nigerian government. Their motives, as members of the Commonwealth, remain obscure.’ 

Meanwhile royal author Phil Dampier suggested there was an irony to the visit, as Harry and Meghan have previously been critical of the Commonwealth, with the Duchess admitting she ‘did not know’ about it until after she joined the firm.  

Royal author Phil Dampier said: ‘It’s ironic that the late Queen wanted Harry and Meghan to very much be her ambassadors throughout the Commonwealth and spread goodwill among its fifty or so nations, but they didn’t want to do it as royals.

‘Now they are happy to pick and choose invitations they receive from these countries. They did so in Jamaica and now plan to travel to Nigeria, a country his mother Diana toured with the King in the early 1990s.

The Sussexes will make their first visit as a couple to Nigeria after being invited by the country’s chief of defence staff (Pictured: Harry and Meghan at day four of Invictus Games 2023 at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany)
The Duke of Sussex and Michael Buble curling at the final day of the One Year to Go Event before the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 on February 16 2024
Prince Harry will fly to Britain in just over a week’s time for the Invictus Games’ 10th anniversary where he will give a reading at St Paul’s Cathedral – but there is no mention of Meghan being in attendance

‘They are in effect trying to set up a rival court, their own royal roadshow, and I think people can see through it.

‘They heavily criticised the monarchy and the Commonwealth in their Netflix shows and Harry’s book Spare, yet they are happy to be invited simply because of their royal connections.’

Mr Dampier said that unofficial visits conducted by the pair could ‘blunder into a diplomatic incident’ if they couple ‘say or do the wrong thing’.

He added: ‘It’s all trying to have your cake and eat it, do commercial deals where it suits, but do some quasi-official duties to make out you are still important on the world stage. 

‘Some will say they have every right to do this but it smacks of the half in and half out position the late Queen tried to avoid.’

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams added: ‘The Sussexes’ behaviour during their visit will be watched with care, as the comments about the Commonwealth in their documentary Harry and Meghan, for Netflix, were far from flattering.

‘If there is to be any healing of the rift in the royal family, they must avoid any comment or action that might be construed as being detrimental to the monarchy and to its pivotal links with the Commonwealth.’

Meghan greets Glory Essien, who will be competing for Nigeria at the Invictus Games
Meghan penned her autograph on to the Nigeria flag  as she met thrilled members of the nation’s Invictus team
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are pictured attending the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Germany last year

Harry and Meghan quit their roles as senior royals in January 2020 before making the move to Canada and subsequently settling down in the Californian enclave of Montecito. 

READ HERE: Meghan Markle ‘can’t wait to visit Nigeria for her mum and the kids’, Invictus organiser reveals – as Duchess cheers on African team after discovering her heritage following genealogy test 

The visit to Nigeria comes after the Duchess discovered that she was ’43 per cent Nigerian’ after doing a genealogy test

Speaking on her podcast Archetypes to Nigerian-American comedian Ziwe Fumudoh she said: ‘I’m going to start to dig deeper into all this because anybody that I’ve told, especially Nigerian women, are like ‘What!” 

At last year’s Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, Germany, she was hailed ‘our Princess’ by a Nigerian athlete at the games. 

Competitor Glory Essien described Meghan as ‘my Nigerian sister’ before posting a selfie of them together watching the games in the stand with prince Harry.

She captioned the post: ‘Our princess is in the house to watch her people play the village of Ukraine.’

Meanwhile an Invictus Games organiser revealed last year that Meghan ‘can’t wait to visit Nigeria for her mum and the kids’ after discovering her heritage.

During last year’s games the defence chief introduced Meghan to members of their team using the nickname Amira Ngozi Lolo –  adding that she could use if she ever visited the country. 

No senior member of the royal family is expected to be at the event. Neither the Sussexes’ office nor Buckingham Palace have confirmed any plans for Harry to meet with either his brother Prince William
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry laugh during the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony on September 10, 2014 in London
Prince William, then-Prince Charles and Prince Harry pictured watching the athletics at Lee Valley Track during the Invictus Games on September 11, 2014 in London, England

Amira is a warrior princess from a legend, Ngozi means ‘blessed’ and Lolo is ‘royal wife’. 

Derek Cobbinah, who helped co-ordinate Nigeria’s debut in this year’s competition, told Hello! that the Duchess was ‘deeply touched’ by the nickname and that she is hoping to organise a family trip to the country.

‘She said she couldn’t wait to visit Nigeria for her mum and the kids,’ he revealed.

‘She’s always welcome to visit Nigeria and other African countries.’

The couple’s upcoming trip to Nigeria comes just months as they flew out to Jamaica to attend the glitzy premiere of the Bob Marley film One Love.

Their visit in January raised a few eyebrows as the Caribbean country continues to move ahead with plans to cut ties with the British monarchy with a referendum set to be held later this year.  

While working members of the Royal Family Harry and Meghan were president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust with Harry being appointed the Commonwealth youth ambassador in 2018.

Harry and Meghan were pictured with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who wants to ditch the monarchy
Harry and Meghan posed with Holness and his wife Juliet in Jamaica

Yet in their Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan, the show branded the Queen’s much-loved Commonwealth ‘Empire 2.0’, while other claims are made that ‘nothing has changed’ from the UK’s colonial past, and Brexit supporters are accused of being racist and having ‘horrible views.

Harry will arrive in the UK on May 8. He was last seen in the UK in February when he made a dash across the Atlantic to be with his cancer-stricken father after the King courageously announced his diagnosis to the world.

He is expected to provide a reading at the event, marking a decade since the games were founded as a sporting event for injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Actor Damian Lewis is also expected to recite the Invictus poem at St Paul’s for the anniversary of the games for injured servicemen and women.

A statement published on the Invictus Games’ social media reads: ‘The Invictus Games Foundation will celebrate 10 years of changing lives and saving lives with a ‘Service of Thanksgiving’ at St Paul’s Cathedral on May 8th. 

‘We will be joined by our Patron, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, actor Damian Lewis and members of the worldwide Invictus Community to mark the occasion.’

However, Meghan is not mentioned. As the event is just two days after their son Archie turns five, it is likely she will stay at home.

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