The latest venture from the Duchess of Montecito? Sussex Goop. Tanya Gold breaks American Riviera Orchard down for The Free Press.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attends the “Keynote: Breaking Barriers, Shaping Narratives: How Women Lead On and Off the Screen” session during SXSW 2024. (Suzanne Cordiero via Getty Images)

What Is American Riviera Orchard?

The latest venture from the Duchess of Montecito? Sussex Goop.

Recently, while the entire world was wondering, “Where the hell is Kate Middleton?,” her sister-in-law Meghan Markle took to Instagram to remind us all where she still is: in the business of selling herself.

The self-exiled princess’s new initiative is called American Riviera Orchard, which sounds like an address given by an immigrant to a taxi driver, asking to be taken to paradise. It isn’t memorable—it’s a word salad—but it has that fragile quality of yearning, like “Over the Rainbow” or “Is it benign, doctor?” Trademark applications reveal that American Riviera Orchard plans to sell home goods like linens, cookbooks, and fruit preserves. But as with anything royal, there’s a deeper message. 

The Instagram account associated with American Riviera Orchard is nine squares, stitched with the name in gold. It looks like a napkin, but luxe. I don’t know much about glossy women—I have never snuggled in an Hermès Avalon throw blanket (camel) or married a prince under a curse, but I have always believed that some women use beautiful things to express to the world a poise they do not feel. 

A spokes-acolyte told People magazine it will “reflect everything that she loves—family, cooking, entertaining, and home décor.” A promotional video had Meghan stirring a pot. This is a metaphor too: What is she stirring? History? 

Meghan has always presented as a woman who doesn’t know where she belongs. She wrote about it once for Elle: she described filling in a form about ethnicity, but there was no box for her own: biracial. “I left my identity blank,” she wrote, “a question mark, an absolute incomplete—much like how I felt.” Now we know where she thinks she belongs: in an orchard by the sea in America. 

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Sussex Goop (it’s easier to call it that) will sit at Meghan’s sweet spot: where rank materialism meets bogus activism. “While my life shifts from refugee camps to red carpets,” she once said, “I choose them both because these worlds can, in fact, co-exist, and for me, they must.” 

Except they can’t. There is no such thing as a progressive duchess. As with all dreamlands, Sussex Goop will be smaller in daylight. I expect napkins and spoons, and oils and sauces, and possibly gloves for handling chickens. I wonder what the bent of the bogus activism will be: environmentalism or social justice? 

Everyone who attaches themselves to royalty collapses to a fantasy of some kind. This is Meghan’s. 

Meghan presumably hopes American Riviera Orchard is the next Goop. People laugh so hard at Gwyneth Paltrow they forget that her wellness business is worth $250 million. But success takes hard work, and princesses are not made for that. Their job is to be, not to do. 

Read Tanya Gold on King Charles and follow her on X @TanyaGold1

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