The Duke and Duchess of Sussex find the ‘new role’ should be left out in the cold

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex watch the floral tributes of the late Queen Elizabeth II outside Windsor Castle – Martin Meissner/AP

When they “stepped back” as senior members of the Royal Family in January 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex dreamed of a “progressive new role” within the monarchy that would see them “work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen”.

What we have witnessed since the death of Queen Elizabeth II is Harry and Meghan being offered a ‘half, half out’ form of royalty far removed from the cake and eat scenario they originally envisioned.

The news that the couple accidentally received an invite to Sunday night’s ‘state of the century reception’ at Buckingham Palace, only to have it canceled at the last minute shows they can have a discretionary ‘in’ in this As far as family occasions are concerned, but where major events involving world leaders are concerned, they are well and truly ‘out’.

As they were reunited with the Royal Family to remember Harry’s beloved grandmother this week, a clear distinction was drawn between what the ‘non-working’ Sussexes may be involved in as ‘ much-loved family members” and what their lower status allows. in terms of state set-pieces, which is apparently very little.

King Charles made this clear in his maiden speech when he distinguished between ‘our new Prince and Princess of Wales continuing to inspire and lead our national conversations’ and Harry and Meghan ‘continuing to build their lives at home’. ‘foreign”.

But not being on the 1,000-guest list for one of the biggest palace powwows in living memory – even though it’s being hosted by Harry’s father and stepmother – rather makes it clear to the reality that they remain very much on the outside. Indeed, even the last-minute nature of the “non-invitation” suggests that communications between the palace and their former managers are no longer what they used to be.

By denying them the opportunity to rub shoulders with Joe Biden, the US President, and Jacinta Adern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, the powers that be in the palace have sensibly decided that there is a time and a place for Harry and Meghan. – and it’s not at the biggest diplomatic reception ever hosted by a monarch.

As an out-of-work royal, the Duke of York is unsurprisingly not in attendance either.

Yet in withdrawing the offer from the Sussexes, the so-called men in gray suits may also have been aware that the increasingly politicized nature of some of their recent interventions – from encouraging people to vote in America to the Duke’s comments on gun control – may not sit with the non-partisan nature of the rally.

The Prince of Wales (centre right) and the Duke of Sussex (centre left) arrive at Westminster Hall for a vigil around the coffin of the late Queen - Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror

The Prince of Wales (centre right) and the Duke of Sussex (centre left) arrive at Westminster Hall for a vigil around the coffin of the late Queen – Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror

The snub will be a blow, however, not only for Harry as the fifth in line to the throne and the King’s son, but also for the Duchess, who – after the Megxit – has tried to reposition herself as a world power, on one foot. of equality. with Michelle Obama, the former First Lady.

Prior to marrying Harry in 2018, the former actress struck up many high-profile relationships, posting a photo of herself talking to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Instagram and forming a close friendship with Jessica Mulroney, his daughter-in-law. law of Trudeau’s predecessor, Brian Mulroney.

Having been tipped as a potential future Democratic presidential candidate last October, the 41-year-old mother of two wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chief Justice Chuck Schumer. majority in the Senate, advocating for paid family leave. She would therefore have been delighted to press flesh with President Biden (notably after successfully deflecting former President Trump’s state visit in June 2019 after giving birth to Archie, having previously described him as “misogynistic and “divider”).

Although Harry did not personally intervene in the decision to ban him from wearing military uniform, saying he was happy to wear whatever his grandmother asked, the couple seem quite upset by the reception’s rebuff .

A source close to the Sussexes stressed that they had done everything expected of them during the period of mourning and were determined to remain focused on the late Queen.

“They did everything the best they could,” the source said. “They arrived, they smiled, shook hands, whatever was asked.”

Yet the harsh reality of royal life is that if your name isn’t on the official House of Windsor team sheet, you don’t get in.


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