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Prince Harry’s Eastern tour creates important opportunity for positive PR

Prince Harry is headed out on tour this month as he prepares to visit Japan and Singapore to take part in a charity polo match connected with his Sentebale organization, presenting an opportune moment for some “positive PR,” according to an episode of Newsweek‘s The Royal Report podcast.

Harry will travel to Tokyo on August 9 with polo pal Nacho Figueras, where the two will attend the ISPS Sports Values Summit-Special Edition. The summit will focus on the power of sports endeavor and will be attended by high profile representatives from a number of sporting disciplines around the world.

After their short stay in Tokyo, Harry and Figueras will then take part in the 2023 Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at Singapore Polo Club on August 12.

The match is an annual event held to raise funds for the Sentebale charity which Harry co-founded in 2006 with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help children and young people in Lesotho and Botswana in Africa, affected by HIV and AIDS.

Prince Harry Attending Sentebale Concert
Prince Harry photographed attending a Sentebale charity concert in London, June 11, 2019. The prince will play in a charity polo match for the charity in Singapore on August 12.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The name “sentebale”—meaning “forget-me-not” in the Sesotho language spoken in Lesotho—was chosen to pay tribute to the work of the two royals’ late mothers, Princess Diana and Queen ‘Mamohato, who were both involved with HIV/AIDS causes during their lifetimes.

The new round of overseas engagements comes at an important time for Harry, who has experienced a round of negative press in recent months, chief royal correspondent Jack Royston told listeners of The Royal Report.

“It should be a good bit of positive publicity for Harry,” he said of the two-stage visit. “And remind everybody of the good work he does.

“Sentebale is a great cause. They help support young people with HIV and it’s in southern Africa…I think it’s probably one of the better charities [Harry is involved with], you know, Sentebale and Invictus is some of the best work that Harry has done in his time as a royal.”

Royston also noted the opportunity that the charity polo game will present for fans who during past events have widely shared photos and video footage of the royal in action in the saddle.

“There’ll be great pictures, I’m sure,” he said. “They always are at the polo.”

Harry’s polo match closely follows another royal event of the same nature, with his brother, Prince William, winning a charity game organized to raise funds for the Royal Foundation in Windsor on July 6.

The match was attended by Kate, the Princess of Wales, and highlighted how such events can earn royals a great deal of positive publicity after Kate’s congratulatory kiss for her husband led press coverage from the event, coinciding with International Kissing Day.

Prince Harry and Nacho Figueras
Prince Harry and Nacho Figueras photographed at the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup 2022 in Aspen, August 25, 2022.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Sentebale

Though Meghan is not confirmed to be accompanying her husband on the trip, Harry may find his public standing benefiting from similar positive coverage as he has not yet regained the level of popularity among the American or British public which he enjoyed before the release of his Netflix show last December and 410-page memoir in January.

Both projects earned the prince and Meghan a wave of backlash from critics over the inclusion of behind-palace-walls revelations, with some commentators accusing the prince of hypocrisy over appearing to invade his family’s privacy.

Both Harry and Meghan’s popularity plummeted to their lowest levels on record after the media releases, though they have begun to see a tide turn in their favor, if yet only slowly.

Despite this, the couple have recently faced setbacks in their post-royal careers in the media industry. It was announced in June that the couple were parting ways with podcast partner Spotify, then their Netflix show was snubbed for a nomination in the 75th Primetime Emmy awards.

At the time of the awards snub, entertainment expert Mark Boardman told Newsweek that in order to regain his popularity, Harry should return to the royal playbook which proved successful in the past.

“The next move will be a tough one,” he said. “As both Harry and Meghan need to redefine who they are individually, and as a couple, and improve their ability to engage audiences.

“With Meghan having a career ahead of her in TV and film, Harry must become a royal again to reengage his waning loyal fan base and work with new people to help generate positive media attention.”

The prospect of a non-official royal visit to Japan and Singapore for the prince then, may prove just the type of event to help achieve this.

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.



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