This Top-Ranking Royal Wants Meghan and Harry Back in "The Firm"
This senior royal "felt they played a vital role in the future of a modernized monarchy," an insider says.
After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's incredibly tense final official appearance with the royal family in March, there were plenty of hurt feelings on both sides. While it'd be easy to assume that things between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the royal family would never be the same, there's one top-ranking royal who's doing everything he can to maintain a relationship with Harry and Meghan: Prince Charles. Rather than being angry at his youngest son, Palace insiders told me, "The Prince of Wales was greatly concerned for both Harry and Meghan and hoped there was still a way they would eventually find their way back to the family. He is keeping the lines of communication open."
As the couple pursues their quest for "financial independence" while living in Los Angeles, Harry and Meghan's lifestyle continues to be funded by Charles, something several sources point to as an example of the prince's strong support. "While Charles may be father to Harry, he's also their boss, and that makes the relationship complex for a number of reasons," Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand note in their new book Finding Freedom.
Still, "Charles recognizes that it has not been easy for Harry and Meghan and truly hopes they can find purpose and happiness in their new life," an insider told me. "But he also very much hopes there will come a day when he can welcome them back into 'The Firm.'"
Charles had forged a strong bond with the couple and grown very fond of Meghan so, despite everything that's happened, he is "doing all he can" to stay close to the couple, my sources say.
Harry and Prince William have always had a complicated relationship with their father. According to Finding Freedom, the princes "can be hot and cold" with Charles, but Meghan considered him to be a "second father." A friend of the prince is quoted in the book as saying, "[Meghan is] a sassy, confident, beautiful American. [Charles] likes very strong, confident women."
Leading up to her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018, Meghan was faced with a slew of tabloid reports, courtesy of her father, Thomas Markle, and her half-sister, Samantha Grant. Ultimately, her father did not attend the royal wedding, but Meghan's future father-in-law came to the rescue. "Charles literally saved the day when he stepped in and agreed to walk Meghan half-way down the aisle after that debacle with her father," a Palace insider told me.
"It was a very public show of support for her. Also, he and Camilla were very welcoming to Meghan's mother [Doria Ragland]. The Prince of Wales was very gallant at the wedding making sure Ms. Ragland was shown attention and support given she was the lone member of Meghan's family to attend the ceremony."
After all the drama surrounding Harry and Meghan's wedding, Charles gave Meghan the nickname "Tungsten" because he was so impressed with her inner strength and fortitude.
Insiders have told me that it was Charles who supported Harry and Meghan's wish to have a church wedding at St. George's Chapel in Windsor and championed the idea to Queen Elizabeth—the head of the Church of England—although he himself was denied the same privilege by his mother. As a divorced man marrying a divorced woman, the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had to settle for a civil ceremony followed by a blessing at the Chapel.
Despite all of Charles' support for the couple during their nuptials, Harry still had issues with his father. A source is quoted in Finding Freedom as saying, "Charles is extremely focused on his public image, and there have been times Harry has felt that has taken precedence over everything else."
Perhaps the most surprising revelation in the book is Harry's anger over his belief that his initiatives were overshadowed by those of his father and his brother. "It's quite shocking," said one Palace insider. "It is one thing for Meghan to not understand how the institution works, but Harry was born into it. The focus and future of the monarchy has always been on the line of succession. Prince Charles will be King and William will then become the Prince of Wales. It is not a matter of Harry being overshadowed, it is simply the way the institution has functioned for thousands of years."
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The authors report that Harry and Meghan also felt slighted when, in the Queen's 2019 televised Christmas message, their photograph was not included in the frames on Her Majesty's desk, while images of Prince Charles and Camilla and a family photo of William with Kate Middleton and their children were. My sources told me Charles was surprised that Harry had grown "so emotional over every perceived slight," but he was willing to work with his son and Meghan to assure them that they were to be an important part of the prince's vision for a slimmed down monarchy when he became king.
"The Prince of Wales never had any intention of pushing Harry and Meghan out," said my source. "In fact, quite the opposite is true. He felt they played a vital role in the future of a modernized monarchy." And for more inside info on the royals, check out 3 More Explosive Royal Tell-Alls That Shed New Light on Harry and Meghan.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.