Siblings travel to Balmoral to be by queen’s side but Meghan Markle stays away amid rancour
He flew to Scotland separately from the rest of the royal family and without his wife, Meghan Markle, despite sources close to the couple saying they both planned to make the journey to Royal Deeside earlier in the day.
As news broke of the 96-year-old monarch’s deteriorating health, it was announced at around 2pm that the US-based couple would travel together to the queen’s home in the Scottish Highlands.
But at the last minute it emerged that Meghan would not be accompanying her husband.
He finally arrived at Balmoral Castle just before 8pm – 90 minutes after the statement dropped at 6.30pm.
The last-minute decision for Meghan not to accompany Prince Harry follows ongoing tensions between the couple and Harry’s brother Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton.
This acrimony developed after Harry and Meghan gave an interview to US chat show host Oprah Winfrey in March last year accusing an unnamed member of the royal family of making a racist remark about their son, Archie, three.
It was only 10 days ago that Meghan (41) once again hit the headlines over her relationship with her in-laws after she gave a 6,500-word interview to The Cutmagazine, an offshoot of New Yorkmagazine in which she claimed that “just by existing” she and Prince Harry “were upsetting the dynamic of the hierarchy” as well as suggesting her husband had “lost” his father in the “Megxit” process.
She also spoke of her relief at being “able to tell (my) own story” before issuing what some interpreted as a message to the royals, warning she is free to “say anything”, and saying it is taking “a lot of effort” to forgive them and her estranged family.
Revealing she was “still healing” from her experiences, she said: “I’ve really made an active effort, especially knowing that I can say anything. I’ve never had to sign anything that restricts me from talking. I can talk about my whole experience and make a choice not to.”
The comments were greeted with a combination of anger and dismay within Buckingham Palace, where aides were already growing increasingly concerned about Prince Harry’s forthcoming autobiography, due to be published by Penguin in the coming months.
Harry and Meghan, who arrived in the UK from the US on Saturday for two engagements in the UK and one in Germany, had initially declined an offer to see the queen in Scotland “for security reasons”, amid a continuing row over their police protection.
But after Buckingham Palace announced that the queen was under medical supervision following doctors’ concerns, a source close to the couple confirmed at around 2pm that they would be travelling up to Scotland to be at her bedside.
They later said the couple would be making the journey separately to the rest of the family, but that plans had been coordinated with the other royal households. But then at 4.40pm, the source clarified that Meghan would not, in fact, be “travelling today”.
The decision came after William (40) landed at Aberdeen airport in one of the Dassault Falcon 900LX jets that convened Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to Balmoral on Tuesday for the prime ministerial handover.
William was accompanied by the queen’s sons, Princes Andrew and Edward.
Prince Charles, who will become king, arrived at Balmoral by helicopter from Dumfries House at around noon, closely followed by Princess Anne, who travelled by car from nearby Blairgowrie, where she had been carrying out an engagement for the Riding for the Disabled Association, of which she is president.
Kate Middleton (40) remained at hers and William’s new home, Adelaide Cottage, in Windsor to collect their children Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven and four-year-old Prince Louis after their first day at their new school, Lambrook Prep in Berkshire.
Despite staying just a stone’s throw from Adelaide Cottage at Frogmore Cottage, their Windsor home, Harry and Meghan were said to have “no plans” to see William and Kate this week.
Sources have previously told the Daily Telegraphthat William and Kate believe Prince Harry and Meghan “crossed a line” with their comments on Oprah – and are not just waiting for an apology from the couple but “an acknowledgement of the hurt it caused”.
News of Harry’s forthcoming autobiography has also caused mounting alarm – not least as it is thought Buckingham Palace will not have advanced sight of the book before it is published in the coming months. The manuscript for the “definitive account” of Harry’s “experiences, adventures, losses, and life lessons” has reportedly been completed and signed off by lawyers after being submitted by its ghostwriter, JR Moehringer, this summer.
Harry’s book was due to hit bookshelves in the autumn but has been delayed until later this year, landing in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas gift market.
Whether the publication will still go ahead as scheduled remains to be seen.
Harry (37), who will donate the proceeds to charity, said in a statement that the book would be “a first-hand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful”.
He added: ‘I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.”
Relations between Harry and William reached rock bottom following the Oprah interview, in which Meghan accused Kate of making her cry during a bridesmaids’ dress fitting, and Prince Harry claimed his father and brother felt “trapped” in the monarchy.
Although the royal brothers were reunited a month later for Prince Philip’s funeral – and again in July last year for the unveiling of the statue of their late mother, Princess Diana, – there was no interaction between the two sets of couples during the queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in June.
There is a perception within the House of Windsor that Prince Harry and Meghan’s revelations caused unnecessary upset to the queen when Prince Philip was ill, and a general suspicion around the couple’s attempts to maintain a relationship with her but not the rest of the family.
Despite all that has been said and done since Harry and Meghan, a former actress, stepped down from public duties in March 2020, the queen always insisted – both publicly and privately – that Prince Harry and Meghan “remain much loved members of the family”.
Nothing would have made her happier than to see her warring grandsons finally putting their differences aside. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)