Even the Queen’s presence isn’t a certainty: the 96-year-old monarch rarely ventures into public these days, having survived a bout with coronavirus and lamented her difficulty walking. But people with links to the palace said she intended to appear on the balcony, the ultimate royal photo opportunity.
For this reason, the question of who appears alongside the monarch is fraught with palace intrigue. Officially, the Queen’s decision to leave out Harry, her grandson, and Andrew, her disgraced second son, is purely a function of their revised job descriptions: members of the royal family no longer work full-time no more.
Prince Harry relinquished that status when he and Meghan moved to Southern California in 2020. Andrew lost that status after the Queen exiled him from public life due to his ties to the financier and predator sexual Jeffrey Epstein. In February, he settled a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against him in New York.
But the decision to exclude them – especially Harry and Meghan – has perhaps inevitably been interpreted by the London tabloids as a snub by family members who have generated tons of unflattering headlines over the past two years.
The decision also suggests Harry has not mended the rift with his father and brother that opened up after he and Meghan said they wanted to step back from their royal duties, and it deepened after granting a interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they accused family members of insensitive and even racist behavior.
The queue on the balcony will be limited to ‘members of the Royal Family currently carrying out official public duties on behalf of the Queen’, according to a palace spokesperson, who did not mention Harry, Meghan or Andrew by their name.
This circle includes his eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla; his eldest son, Prince William, and his wife, Catherine; the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne; her youngest son, Prince Edward; and a handful of others. The Queen also invited various grandchildren.
Prince Harry and Meghan aren’t letting the decision keep them away. In a statement, a spokesperson for the couple said: “Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted and honored to attend the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June with their children.”
It would be the first time the couple’s daughter, Lilibet, has met her great-grandmother, after whom she is named. Lilibet was Elizabeth’s childhood nickname. Their daughter’s middle name, Diana, pays tribute to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in Paris in 1997.
Harry and Meghan are due to attend a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on June 3, as is Andrew. They could also attend other events. But the balcony appearance on June 2 is the symbolic centerpiece of the four-day Jubilee festivities, coming just after a military parade that honors the Queen’s birthday, known as Trooping the Colour.
Harry and Meghan had tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle a week before her birthday in early April. Harry said the reunion reaffirmed his close relationship with his grandmother. But he ruffled some feathers in Britain, telling NBC’s ‘Today’ show, “I just make sure she’s protected and has the right people around her.”
The image of a streamlined royal family underscores the influence of Charles, 73, who functions as an unofficial Prince Regent for the Queen these days, carrying out many of his public duties. Charles, say royal watchers, has long pushed to reduce the number of family members with full working status.
Buckingham Palace has started sharing details of the jubilee, which will include a televised party on a circular stage outside the palace on June 4 and a performance the following day. The decision to announce the balcony lineup now, a palace official said, had been calculated to prevent it from overshadowing the festivities.
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