In the days since Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest Monday, dueling reports have emerged about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interactions with the royal family before and after the beloved monarch’s death.
With these reports, it’s apparent that different sides are trying to gain a public relations advantage with attempts to make one side — Harry and Meghan, or King Charles III and the royal family — look more understandably aggrieved than the other. Unfortunately, the reports raise questions about whether there’s any hope that this famously fractured family will ever reconcile.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave Westminster Hall, London after the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II was brought to the hall to lie in state ahead of her funeral on Monday on September 14, 2022 in London, England. (Photo Danny Lawson – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
One particularly explosive new report from The Sun, for example, said that Harry was so furious that Charles asked him on Sept. 8 to not bring Meghan to Balmoral Castle, where the queen lay dying, that he missed an RAF flight with Prince William and other royal family members to Scotland.
The Duke of Sussex apparently couldn’t understand his father’s concern that his polarizing American wife would make his relatives uncomfortable at a difficult time — even after she implicitly threatened to release more secrets about her time in the royal family in a recent interview, according to The Sun. The result of Harry’s “rowing” is that he had to scramble to get a commercial flight to Scotland and arrived at Balmoral several hours later than the others, long after the queen had died, The Sun said.
“Harry was so busy trying to get Meghan to Balmoral and rowing with his family that he missed the flight,” a source told The Sun.
Other reports from Page Six dispute The Sun’s account of that day, including the idea that Harry, angry about his wife being banned from the queen’s deathbed, refused to dine with his father and brother, Prince William, that evening at Balmoral. Indeed, a new Page Six report suggests that Harry was tragically kept out of the loop about his grandmother’s failing health as he “desperately tried to make it to (her) bedside to say farewell.”
Harry only learned that she had died from online reports after his flight landed in Scotland, Page Six said, citing a Buckingham Palace source.
“The strain and agony was etched on Harry’s face as he was driven to Balmoral … hours after she had already passed away,” Page Six reported.
Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales, Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the long Walk at Windsor Castle on September 10, 2022, before meeting well-wishers. (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Then again, other Buckingham Palace sources have told Page Six and The Telegraph that Charles called Harry that morning to let him know the queen probably wouldn’t survive the day. The Telegraph reported last weekend that Charles called Harry during his flight to let him know the queen had died, with Charles’ notification coming five minutes before Buckingham Palace released its public announcement.
“Everybody was trying to get where they needed to be,” the source told The Telegraph. “And the King was adamant that the official statement must not be released until all members of the family had been informed. That was a father talking because he cares.”
Harry and Meghan, who acrimoniously left royal life in 2020 and now live in California, were in the U.K earlier this month to headline events for longstanding charities. When Harry learned that his 96-year-old grandmother’s health had taken a sudden turn for the worse, he scrambled to get to Balmoral.
His representatives initially announced that Meghan would accompany him, but several hours later, it was announced that Meghan would stay behind in London, with a royal correspondent for the BBC saying that the American duchess” might not be terribly warmly welcomed, to be perfectly candid about it”
Britain’s King Charles III and Britain’s Camilla, Queen Consort look at members of the Bearer Party transferring the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard, form the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy into the State Hearse at Wellington Arch in London on September 19, 2022, after the State Funeral Service of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Meanwhile, a new Daily Beast report suggests that Charles may not be such a “caring” father after all. His “ruthless” actions on Sept. 8 and in the days leading up to the funeral Monday show a calculated strategy to sideline the Sussexes as much as possible so that they won’t undermine his ability to rule, the Daily Beast said.
Harry faces a life of permanent “exile” in the United States, with Charles “plotting to follow the playbook drawn up by the royals as they overcame the crisis triggered by Edward VIII, the king who abdicated in 1936 and was obliged to live the rest of his life outside the U.K.,” the Daily Beast said.
A friend of the king’s told The Daily Beast: “The royals handled the abdication crisis by exiling Edward, which meant he and Wallis ultimately came to seem like unimportant, misguided, disloyal, and even treacherous individuals to almost the entirety of the British people.”
The friend said “it was masterful operation,” adding that “the same thing is already happening with Harry and Meghan, and will only gather pace over the next few years under the rule of King Charles.
“And of course a wayward second son is far less of an existential threat to the fabric of the monarchy than a wayward king,” the friend said. However, the palace continues to worry about what Harry will say about his family in his upcoming, ghost-written memoir, even if its release may be delayed until 2023.
At the same time, the palace has become less concerned about what Meghan will say in interviews or on her “Archetypes” Spotify podcast, The Daily Beast said. That’s because she’s increasingly come across as less than credible to the British public because of the sometimes unsubstantiated claims she has made in interviews since her explosive 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview. Notably, in her interview with The Cut, Meghan invited journalist’s scrutiny and incited anger in South Africa when she compared her lavish 2018 royal wedding to Harry to the freeing of Nelson Mandela.
Meanwhile, another royal author has offered more reasons that there won’t be any family reconciliation any time soon, if at all.
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Katie Nicholl, Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent and author of “The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown,” said in an interview Thursday that William is unlikely to let bygones be bygones, even though he put on a united front with Harry at events before Monday’s funeral, the Daily Mail reported.
Speaking on the GBN show, “Dan Wootton Tonight,” Nicholl said: “William simply can’t forgive (Harry), not just for his behaviour and what he’s done and how he’s done it, but look at how much now rests on William.”
Heir-to-the-throne William always expected that Harry would be by his side to help carry out royal duties. “He always thought Harry would be his wingman, now he’s doing it on his own,” Nicholl added. “Thank goodness he’s got Kate by his side.”