Well, we have a lot to catch up on. I was out of town over Easter weekend and then playing catch up with life, so obviously the Windsors took that opportunity to do the absolute most 😉 Today I want to cover Harry and Meghan’s surprise visit to England, as well as a few other odds and ends that have hit the press over the last two weeks. But, let’s start with the big one: Harry and the Queen.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in The Netherlands last week for the Invictus Games, arguably the crown jewel of Harry’s charitable endeavors. The games also have meaning for Harry and Meghan’s relationship – in 2017 the event saw Meghan’s first official public outing with Harry prior to their engagement, and in 2018 their attendance came at the height of their newlywed spotlight. The games evolved into an every other year thing, which then saw a delay thanks to the pandemic. So, here we are.
A spokesperson for the couple confirmed Meghan’s attendance shortly before their arrival, however their children, Archie and Lilie, do not appear to have joined them.
On Thursday, April 14, the couple apparently went to Windsor and met with the Queen, The Prince of Wales, and The Duchess of Cornwall. Reporting has been a bit all over the place on the cadence of these meetings and who attended what, but the general consensus is that there was some sort of gathering between Harry, Meghan, Charles, and Camilla prior to Harry meeting privately with the Queen. Notably, this meeting was arranged purely by family and without staff intervention per Harry’s request.
Subsequently, much has been made about the fact that this meeting occurred without being leaked beforehand – in other words, Harry’s concerns about Palace staff undermining him and his wife in the press were more or less “proven.” Another narrative is that this visit took place while The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were out of town skiing for their children’s spring break and that their absence not only drove Harry’s interest in these meetings, but possibly made clear the role of Kensington Palace in leaking information about the Sussexes.
I wish I had had the opportunity to get my next post up on William and Harry’s relationship to the media before this, but alas. I will get more into this topic then, but suffice to say, yes, there is certainly ground to believe KP has played a role in press leaks and the fact that this visit took place without staff does lend credence to Harry’s concerns. Personally, I think that even if William was in the country and Harry still went forward with a family visit it is doubtful at this point the men would have met. Interestingly, in the year plus since the Oprah interview, at which point it appeared that the most troubled relationship was between Harry and Charles, I think Harry’s relationship with William is now the most fractured.
As for the meeting with Charles, there’s conflicting reporting as to whether or not the Queen requested they meet or whether Harry asked as an olive branch. I’m agnostic on this point, however I will say we’ve seen very little by way of olive branches from the Sussexes over the last two years, so if I had to put money down I suppose I’d lean towards believing the former scenario. The Queen also reportedly extended an invitation to the couple to partake in the Jubilee celebrations in June. While the couple can’t participate in specific engagements as representatives of the Queen, they could potentially turn up on the Buckingham Palace balcony and at the thanksgiving service.
Naturally, this has turned into a field day for think pieces on whether it would be appropriate for the couple to attend. Will they overshadow the Queen? Are they reconciled with the family? What does this mean in terms of future association with royal events? And so on and so forth. Realistically, if Harry and Meghan are in London for Jubilee Weekend, then yes, they will overshadow the Queen. The news cycle will be about them, and their relationship and interactions with William and Kate. However, I honestly don’t think the Queen really gives a damn about being celebrated – for her, these events are about bolstering the monarchy. And from her point of view, not having the family at odds with two of its most high-profile members (albeit private ones…technically) may be best way to meet that goal.
That’s certainly a logical argument. However, so too is one that says continuing to give Harry and Meghan ammunition to disclose familial angst and essentially “dine out” on their titles at the family’s expense is short-sighted and counter-productive.
At this point, my take is this: If there’s a long-term strategy behind this invitation then so be it. I think there is something to be gained from a public reconciliation for all parties. If, on the other hand, this invitation is reactionary and another attempt to handle Harry and Meghan with kid gloves, then I think it’s a mistake.
So far, signs point to the latter. Harry said in a television interview about his grandmother (among other things): “I’m just making sure she’s protected and got the right people around her.”
One read of this is that it’s a backhanded comment about Charles and William – that they’re not doing enough to protect the Queen. On its face, this is of course ludicrous. Harry gave up his royal duties and now lives in an entirely different country, while Charles and William continue to serve the crown and regularly see the Queen.
However, I don’t think that’s what Harry meant. This is about staff again and his antipathy towards the “courtiers” that surround his grandmother, and to a certain extent, his father and brother. Is Harry in any position from California, and given his status as a private citizen, to do anything to address this issue? No. Is there in fact an issue? There is if you’re Harry or Meghan, but no, I don’t think there is anything inherently problematic with the Queen being given advice that doesn’t serve their agenda. And that’s what their problem really boils down to.
So, whatever the nature of the private meetings at Windsor, they didn’t stop Harry from talking about family (or royal) matters to the media. Which is ironic, no? If he was so insistent that these meetings remain private in the leadup, then why acknowledge them at all? Once again, the issue isn’t the disclosure – it’s the disclosure not happening on his terms.
With that, let’s move on. Our next item is once again Windsor – the town this time. There’s been consistent reporting for the past year that William and Kate are considering a move to Berkshire, which will allow them to have closer proximity to the Queen and the Middleton family. At first, it was unclear whether a Berkshire residence would become their primary home or another weekend option that was just closer to London. It sounds like it’s the former and the couple have been investigating schools for all three of their children to start in the autumn.
My guess is that the primary motivation is that a Berkshire residence splits the difference on Kensington Palace and Anmer Hall (their residence in Norfolk, three hours outside of London). In Berkshire, they are still close to the action, but they have better privacy and more of the “countryside” life that appeals to them in Norfolk.
And, in other Cambridge family news, Prince Louis turned four on April 23. As usual, KP released a series of photos the day before taken by Kate.
These were taken in Norfolk. As you can see, his Middleton genes are strong 🙂Embed from Getty Images
Prince George and Princess Charlotte also made their Easter debut this year. As you may recall, at Christmas 2019 the children joined their parents for the first time on the walk to church on the Sandringham estate. In the interim, they made a few appearances with their parents during the pandemic, so it’s safe to say that William and Kate are consciously incorporating them into royal moments as they deem appropriate.
While George and Charlotte were present, the Queen, notably, was not. I think we’ve covered that issue enough in the past, but as a refresher, here’s the post from the recent memorial service that includes some background.
Last but not least, today marks the publication of Tina Brown’s new book on the Royal Family – more or less a sequel to her popular biography of Diana, Princess of Wales from 2007. I will be reading the book and covering it here – TBD on whether that’s one post or a few 🙂