Royal Family Plans to "Put on a Good Show" for Harry & Meghan's Return
A Palace insider says the royals hope to put "the drama behind them" for the Sussexes' final royal run.
After last month's bombshell announcement that they would "step back" from their roles as senior royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to return to the U.K. this week for their final official engagements before the "Megxit" agreement takes effect at the end of March. A Palace insider told me that despite "some very hurt feelings and outright shock over the way in which this has all unfolded, the royal family is determined to put on a good show in hopes of putting the drama behind them."
The latest drama occurred last week when Queen Elizabeth decided to ban Harry and Meghan from using "Sussex Royal" in any form in their quest for "financial independence." After Buckingham Palace announced the Queen's decision, the couple issued a statement on their website, which read in part:
While there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word 'Royal' overseas, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use 'Sussex Royal' or any iteration of the word 'Royal' in any territory (either within the U.K. or otherwise) when the transition occurs Spring 2020.
The statement was widely criticized for being disrespectful. "After everything that's happened—particularly that incredibly disrespectful statement issued after the announcement about the decision to disallow the Duke and Duchess to use 'Sussex Royal'—there is no love lost," the insider said.
Still, according to my sources, the royal family plans to put on brave faces during Harry and Meghan's final royal visit. One insider told me, "The family is taking their lead from the Queen, who despite being deeply hurt by all this, is doing what she has always done, which is to just get on with it. Her Majesty is quite single-minded in that way. She is very clear that no matter how she feels privately, she has a duty to carry on and has made it clear that she expects the family to do the same. This unfortunate episode has taken up far too much oxygen and she feels the longer the press continues to harp on the drama, the more damaging it becomes to the future of the monarchy."
During their 12-day visit, Harry and Meghan are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor with their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
As for what the couple has in store, Harry will kick things off on Feb. 28 with a stop at Abbey Road Studios in London where he will meet with Jon Bon Jovi when the singer re-records his song "Unbroken" with the Invictus Games Choir. According to The Telegraph, Harry will also appear at an event in Scotland promoting his sustainable travel initiative, Travalyst.
According to my sources, Meghan is planning to make some "private, unannounced visits" during the trip that will likely be shared on the couple's social media platforms after the fact.
As previously announced, the couple is slated to appear together at the Endeavour Fund Awards on Mar. 5, the Mountbatten Music Festival on Mar. 7, an International Women's Day event on Mar. 8, and finally, they will join the rest of the royal family at the Commonwealth Day service on Mar. 9, where all eyes will be on Harry and Meghan.
"There is a sense that Meghan wants to keep her distance unless it's absolutely necessary for her to be there," my Palace insider told me. "Commonwealth Day is an important event where the family is expected to appear together. Everyone is prepared to be cordial."
The insider pointed out that there is a sad irony to Harry and Meghan's last official engagement as senior royals. "Commonwealth Day is a celebration of the 53 commonwealth countries, which was to be central to the work of the Duke and Duchess as the Queen's representatives. There was so much hope and excitement around what they would do to bring excitement, awareness, and glamour to their work. It's stunning to think how it all went so wrong. That will no doubt be on everyone's mind, but you won't see that. The Duchess may not believe in or condone the British 'stiff upper lip' ethos, but the royal family does and on that day, it will be business as usual." And for more on Harry and Meghan's life after Megxit, check out Harry and Meghan Have "Different Expectations" of Post-Royal Life.