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Harry & Meghan Left the Royal Family After the Queen Did This, Sources Say

A new book claims a supposed snub from Queen Elizabeth led to the couple stepping down.

There has been a lot of talk about why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down as working members of the royal family ever since they made their announcement in January 2020. This includes everything from pure speculation about the couple's decision to their own tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they explained everything firsthand. But, now, a new book claims that there was another reason that Meghan and Harry chose to step down from the royal family, and it had to do with a photo on Queen Elizabeth's desk.

As reported by Page Six, the new book Brothers and Wives: Inside The Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan by Christopher Andersen claims that when the queen decided not to put a photo of Harry, Meghan, and their son, Archie, in view during one of her Christmas broadcasts, they knew they needed to make a change. Read on to see what the book claims and for what Meghan and Harry have said about the decision.

RELATED: Here's Everything We Know About Queen Elizabeth's Health Right Now.

The queen supposedly removed a photo of Harry and Meghan from the setup.

Queen Elizabeth during her 2019 Christmas broadcast
BBC / YouTube

Brothers and Wives claims that when Queen Elizabeth was getting ready for her annual Christmas broadcast in 2019, she looked at the photos that would be on view at the desk where she'd be sitting and removed one of them. According to what a source says in the book, the queen "looked over the tables where the photographs she had so lovingly selected were arranged. All were fine but one, [the Queen] told the director." Elizabeth then reportedly pointed to the photo of Harry, Meghan, and Archie, and said, "That one, I suppose we don't need that one."

In an interview with Today, Andersen said, "She loves all of her children and grandchildren, there's no doubt about that. But when it comes to the firm, as they call it in the royal family, she is all business. That's why she wouldn't allow Harry and Meghan to remain as part-time royals on the terms that they wanted.

Page Six reports that a spokesperson for the queen said, "We don't comment on books of this kind as to do so risks giving it some form of authority or credibility."

Harry was offended, the book claims.

Prince Harry during a visit to East Sussex in October 2018
Alan Fraser Images /

In 2019, Harry, Meghan, and their son spent Christmas in Canada, where Meghan had lived before marrying Harry. According to Brothers and Wives, Prince William was surprised to see that a photo of Harry and Meghan was not featured in the queen's Christmas broadcast. A source said he told his wife, Kate Middleton, that Harry would probably be "terribly upset." Harry then reportedly told a friend that he "felt as if he, Meghan and Archie were being erased from the family."

Harry and Meghan weren't left out of the message altogether.

Queen Elizabeth during her 2018 Christmas message
CBC News / YouTube

The photos shown in the queen's 2019 Christmas broadcast include one of William, Kate, and their children, one of Prince Philip, one of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and one of Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI. But, while there is no photo of Harry and Meghan on the queen's desk, they are featured in the message. At one point, the queen notes that during 2019, "Prince Phillip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great-grandchild into our family." As she says this, a photo of herself, Philip, Meghan, Harry, new great-grandson Archie, and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, is shown on the screen.

Meghan and Harry were featured in one of the photos from the queen's 2018 Christmas message. For her 2020 Christmas message last year, only a photo of Prince Philip was featured.

Meghan and Harry have spoken out about why they stepped down.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at Trooping the Colour in June 2019
Lorna Roberts /

In their interview with Winfrey in March 2021—one year after they officially stepped down—Meghan and Harry spoke openly about their decision to stop being working senior royals. Their reasons included how Meghan felt she was treated by the institution of the royal family, particularly when she asked for help with mental health struggles. The couple also claimed that a member of the royal family expressed concern over how dark the color of their child's skin would be. Generally, they didn't feel they had the support or protection of the royal family, including when it came to how Meghan was treated in the media. Harry shared that he was worried about losing Meghan similar to how he lost his mother, Princess Diana. "My biggest concern was history repeating itself," he said in the TV special.

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Meghan told Winfrey that the queen had been welcoming to her.

Meghan Markle being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey

In the interview with Winfrey, Meghan differentiated between her issues with the institution of the royal family and the queen herself. "It's hard for people to distinguish the two because it's a family business, there's the family, and then there are the people that are running the institution," Meghan said (via People), "those are two separate things and it's important to be able to compartmentalize that because the queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me."

She went on to say that the queen reminded of her of own grandmother, adding, "[S]he's always been warm and inviting and really welcoming."

RELATED: The Real Reason Harry & Meghan Won't Be at the Royal Christmas, Sources Say.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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