Balmoral, Memoirs & the BBC

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Let’s do a quick round-up of royal news. It’s been reported that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as well as their two children, have been invited by the Queen to visit her at Balmoral over the summer. It’s unclear when this would occur, whether the couple accepted, or even whether an invitation was actually offered. If it did and they do, it’s equally as unclear whether their visit would overlap with that of any other members of the Royal Family.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall spend a good bit of time in Scotland over the summer, however their base is Birkhall. Usually the Queen is joined at Balmoral proper by The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, and The Princess Royal, with smatterings of grandchildren as schedules permit. Based on what we saw at the Jubilee and via public comments, it’s unlikely that Harry and Meghan would time their stay to overlap with anyone save maybe Princess Eugenie and her husband.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge almost always time a week-long visit to see the Queen in mid- to late-August. The only x-factor this year would be whether their move to Windsor upends their summer schedule, but I would assume they’ll turn up at some point.

It’s unclear whether or not Meghan has ever been to Balmoral. Her prior opportunities to do so would have been the summers of 2018 and 2019, and we know that she didn’t in the latter year because she and Harry received a slew of bad press for skipping a visit to the Queen for multiple international holidays via private planes. However, the year before, Harry and Meghan were reportedly Charles and Camilla’s guests at the Castle of Mey in Scotland, so it’s very possible an under-the-radar visit to Balmoral took place then.

As for the likelihood of the couple turning up, I’d say it’s a toss-up. If there’s an opportunity for them to visit with the Queen sans other family, I think it’s a definite possibility. I also think it’s unlikely that the rest of the family, and the Queen’s senior staff for that matter, would be comfortable with that given Harry’s interview a few months ago that he has a special relationship with the Queen and he’s trying to make sure she’s surrounded by the “right people.”

If it happens, it’s a safe bet we’ll hear about it one way or another, so stay tuned.

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In other news, Harry has been famously working on a memoir that was due to be published this year. There’s been murmurings that it’s been delayed, and even some recent speculation that it was punted into next year. The latest guidance we’ve heard is that it is due out around the Christmas holiday in December.

By all accounts, the Royal Family isn’t looking forward to Publication Day, fearing that it will be a second Oprah interview. There’s been conversation in the news over the last year that given Harry’s generous advance for the book, it’s almost certain that there will be “bombshells.” The only specific fear I’ve seen consistent rumblings about is that Harry will go after Camilla, undermining efforts to make her elevation to queen palatable upon Charles’s accession.

I’m keeping my powder dry on this one until there’s something tangible to react to. I will say that I think it’s been impossible for there to be a true thawing of relations between William and Harry, or Harry and Charles, while this book is still dangling over them. If this book is published without bashing anyone’s character, at that point, and only then, is there going to be an opportunity for amends to be made. And if this book is anything like the interviews Harry gave last year, then I’d guess reconciliation is off the table for the foreseeable future.

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Last but not least, the BBC has paid damages to Alexandra Pettifer, better known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, former nanny to William and Harry in the 90s, for perpetuating a rumor that she had an affair with Charles and received an abortion as a result of their relationship. The rumor was fabricated as part of Martin Bashir’s campaign to win an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, which ended in the famous Panorama sit-down in 1995.

Diana apparently believed the rumor and confronted Pettifer (her married name) at a social gathering to tell her she was “sorry to hear about the baby.”

Until Bashir’s machinations came to light, Pettifer reportedly never knew why Diana believed the rumor or where it came from.

Per The Times:

“Last week the BBC apologised to Charles, William and Harry and agreed to pay ‘substantial damages’ to Alexandra Pettifer, the boys’ former nanny, over ‘wholly baseless’ claims made by Bashir that Pettifer, previously known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, had an affair with Prince Charles which led to an abortion. Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, pledged the BBC will never show the interview in full again or license it to other broadcasters, but insisted it was ‘part of the historical record’ and said ‘short extracts for journalistic purposes’ could still be aired. BBC staff have scoured its website to remove video clips of the interview.”

I’ve written about my thoughts on this issue before, but I will distill them here: Bashir and the BBC are fully in the wrong, but I don’t think the answer is to pull the interview from circulation. As I said in April, for better or for worse, that interview is Diana’s side of the story and while her timing or correspondent may have changed had Bashir not lied to get the win, I think an interview that hit on her marriage and the Royal Family would have been given no matter what.

I’ve heard the idea of burying the interview as yet another form of “silencing” Diana, and while that’s a bit hyperbolic, it’s also not too wide of the mark.

I understand, too, William’s feelings here – he’s reportedly very adamant that the interview should be pulled because it was procured via dishonest means. Unfortunately, I agree with the BBC’s final judgment here – the interview is an important, albeit sad, part of the historical record.

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