The One Thing Harry & Meghan Must Do Now to Heal the Royal Rift, Say Sources
"It's the only way forward," a Palace insider said.
It's been a tumultuous year for the House of Windsor, one filled with exhilarating highs (like the royal baby boom) and devastating lows (like the death of Prince Philip). Still, 2020 and 2021 will likely be remembered most for Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex's stunning revelations about their deep unhappiness living life as senior royals. The now-widowed Queen Elizabeth has had to weather a myriad of crises facing the crown, the most notable and most recent being Prince Andrew's lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault, all against the backdrop of relentless family drama. The widening rift between Harry and his brother, Prince William, and father, Prince Charles, has cast a shadow over the monarchy.
"Up until now, it has indeed been another annus horribilis," a Palace insider told Best Life, quoting the Queen's famous speech from 1992. "But there are things that could be done to unify the family during these difficult days. The breakdown of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's relationship with the family has overshadowed almost everything else. It's time that the split be mended so the family can move on as a fortified unit. Family has always been so important to the Queen and she is deeply saddened by all the discord. Harry and Meghan have a key role in helping to end this crisis the Royal Family faces now."
In particular, sources say, there's one thing Harry and Meghan must do at this critical time to heal the royal rift. Read on to find out what it is, and how likely they are to do it.
Harry and Meghan must find a way for Queen Elizabeth to meet Lilibet in person to get past the current stalemate.
It's been more than three months since Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor was born on June 4 at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California and the Queen has yet to be introduced to her great-granddaughter in person. According to People, Her Majesty met Lilibet, who is seventh in line to the throne and the first child of a senior royal to be born in America, virtually on a video call with Harry and Meghan. The Queen has not seen the couple's two year-old son, Archie Mountbatten Windsor, except in video calls since he was an infant.
Earlier this year, in their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry and Meghan alleged that "the Institution," differentiating it from the Royal Family, treated the duchess with cruel indifference when she reached out for help to deal with her mental health struggles during her first pregnancy. They also claimed an unnamed member of the family raised questions about the color of their yet-to-be-born son's skin around the same time.
The televised tell-all shredded whatever tenuous relationship remained between the Sussexes and the royals at the time. While Prince Charles and Prince William were reportedly furious after the broadcast, the Queen left the door open for the duke and duchess. She released a statement which read, in part: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning." Though she said "some recollections may vary," seemingly referring to those aforementioned exchanges, she reinforced that Harry, Meghan, and their kids "would always be much loved family members."
However, one insider told Best Life, "Nothing has really changed between Harry and Meghan's relationship with the royals since it blew up after Oprah interview. Since Lilibet's birth earlier this summer, things seem to have quieted down, but the duke's relationship with his father and brother remain in tatters. Everything on the surface is all very polite with the family congratulating Harry and Meghan on the birth of their daughter, but it hasn't done anything to thaw things out."
What would help, according to another source, would be for Harry and Meghan to come to England with Archie and Lilibet so that the family, especially the Queen, could meet the baby named after Her Majesty and Princess Diana as "a step towards healing." The insider said: "If the Queen was happy to welcome Harry and Meghan back into the fold and got to see Lilibet and Archie, it's likely the rest of the family would fall in line. Charles is extremely upset that he hasn't met his granddaughter and William and Catherine [Duchess of Cambridge] would love to have their children spend time with the cousins they have not had the chance to get to know. It's the only way forward."
Harry and Meghan have already reportedly asked to meet with the Queen.
According to an early September report from The Sun on Sunday (via The Sun), the Sussexes have offered to fly to London to see the Queen. "Harry and Meghan have made this offer, but a lot of people are shocked by the sheer nerve of it," a source told the outlet. "They may genuinely want to see the Queen, but it's breathtaking given what they've put her through this year."
As a result, the insider said: "Her Majesty's staff have not responded so far. … The Queen is still very fond of Harry, and would love to see Lilibet and her brother Archie. But courtiers are surprised by the move, especially from Meghan, after what has happened."
It has also been reported by the Daily Mail that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the Sussexes' wish to have Lilibet christened at Windsor just like Archie. The outlet also reported that Harry made calls to the family in hopes of having his daughter's christening at Windsor in the coming month. But experts are torn on whether or not that could actually happen.
Whenever Meghan does return to the U.K., it will mark her first time in the country since departing for Canada when the Sussexes officially stepped down as senior royals in March of last year. A royal insider told Best Life, "If Harry and Meghan would travel to England so the Queen could meet her namesake great-grandchild, it would make a huge difference. Narrowing the physical distance would help tremendously with the emotional distance that has been there since they left for America."
But it could also be 2022 before the Queen meets her namesake great-grandchild in person.
If the christening at Windsor does not take place, there are other reasons for the Sussexes to bring Lilibet and Archie to the U.K. to visit with the Queen and the rest of their royal relatives sooner rather than later. Earlier this month, The Sun reported there were talks over whether the duke and duchess and their children would spend Christmas with the Queen at Sandringham this year. The couple declined Her Majesty's invitation in 2019, opting to spend the time in Canada, and they couldn't return to England in 2020 due to travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
If all else fails, the Sussexes would, in all likelihood, come back to the U.K. in June 2022 for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebration, marking Her Majesty's 70 years on the throne.
"It seems very unlikely Harry would miss such an important and historic event," one source told Best Life. "But he and Meghan should not wait until then to bring their children to England. There is an urgency to do something now in order to help bring the family together. The Queen has endured so much sadness this year. The time to come to England to be with her is now."
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The latest royal birth could further highlight the distance between the royals and the Sussexes.
The Queen has always doted on her great-grandchildren and the baby girl born to Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzio on Sept. 18 marks the 12th royal great-grandchild for "Gan-Gan" to spoil with surprise treats and presents. Beatrice and Edoardo's daughter, whose name has not yet been revealed, is the latest royal in the House of Windsor's baby boom. In addition to Lilibet and baby Mozzio, two other children have been added to the royal nursery this year: Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's son, August, who was born in February, and Zara Philip and Mike Tindall's son, Lucas, born in March.
All the Queen's great-grandchildren, except Archie and Lilibet, live in England. "The Queen has spent time with her all great-grandchildren and treasures every minute. Beatrice and Edoardo's daughter will be no exception," said a source. "But the mere fact that [Lilibet and Archie] are an ocean away emphasizes the distance between the Sussexes and the rest of the family. All these babies, who are the next generation of royals, are seen as a fresh start. It's a shame Lilibet and Archie cannot be part of that."
The insider continued: "It's very important for the Queen to see Lilibet and Archie sooner rather than later if Harry and Meghan have any hopes of righting the ship. This sad separation needs to end if the family is ever to be whole again."