As Queen Elizabeth II kicks off the Platinum Jubilee on Thursday, she is doing so with a slimmed-down royal family behind her: Neither Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, nor Prince Andrew is getting a place on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to wave at the crowds.
Even the queen’s presence on Thursday had not been a certainty: The 96-year-old monarch rarely ventures into the public these days, after surviving a bout with the coronavirus and lamenting her trouble walking.
For those reasons, the question of who would appear alongside the monarch has been laden with, well, palace intrigue. Officially, the queen’s decision to leave out Harry, her grandson, and Andrew, her disgraced second son, was purely a function of their revised job descriptions: Neither is a full-time working royal anymore.
Prince Harry gave up that status when he and Meghan moved to Southern California in 2020. Andrew lost the status after the queen exiled him from public life because of his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and sex predator. In February, Andrew settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought against him in New York.
But the decision to exclude them — particularly Harry and Meghan — was perhaps inevitably interpreted by London’s tabloids as a snub of family members who have generated reams of unflattering headlines over the last two years.
The decision also suggested that Harry had not repaired the breach with his father and brother that opened after he and Meghan declared that they wanted to pull back from royal duties, and that deepened after they granted an interview to Oprah Winfrey, in which they accused members of the family of callous and even racist behavior.
The lineup on the balcony is being limited to “members of the royal family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the queen,” according to a palace spokesman, who did not mention Harry, Meghan, or Andrew by name.
That circle includes her 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 has also invited assorted grandchildren.
Prince Harry and Meghan are not letting the decision keep them away. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the couple said, “Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are excited and honored to attend The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this June with their children.”
Harry and Meghan are expected to attend a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, as is Andrew. They might also attend other events. But the balcony appearance on Thursday is the symbolic centerpiece of the four-day jubilee festivities.
Harry and Meghan had tea with the queen at Windsor Castle a week before her birthday in early April. Harry said the meeting had reaffirmed his close relationship with his grandmother. But he ruffled feathers in Britain by telling NBC’s “Today” show, “I’m just making sure she’s protected and got the right people around her.”
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