The One Thing Harry & Meghan Must Do Now That Philip Has Died, Sources Say
"This is not the time for family discord," a Palace insider said.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were quite vocal about nearly every aspect of their struggles as senior royals in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last month. But now, in the wake of Prince Philip's death last week, a Palace insider tells Best Life, it's time for Harry and Meghan to "take a step back and stop airing their grievances." "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had their say and now, if they are really serious about trying to reconcile with the family, they need to recognize that 'the institution' they so heavily criticized is also their family," said the source. "This is not the time for family discord."
Buckingham Palace has announced Harry will attend Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday but Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple's second child, will remain in California on the advice of her doctors. Harry is reportedly flying to London on a private jet in the coming days after not having been in the U.K. since March 2020.
Several royal experts have said that in going back to Britain for the funeral, Harry could start to repair the widening royal rift that was blown apart by the Sussexes' interview. "Harry's place is with his family at this very sad time," said an insider. "There is a sense that it may be easier for him to talk to the Queen, his father, and his brother without Meghan."
The Daily Mail reported Harry has already talked to Prince Charles and his cousins, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, in preparation for his return to Britain. In order to make peace behind Palace walls, read on to find out what Harry will be facing with key members of the Royal Family when he arrives for the funeral. And for more behind-the-scenes details on the royals' feelings about Meghan, check out The Royals Made This One "Fateful Mistake" With Meghan, Says Insider.
During this time of extreme sadness and great difficulty for Queen Elizabeth, many royal insiders believe Harry must apologize to the Queen for adding so much stress to her life while her husband was gravely ill. "It's simply outrageous that [Harry] has allowed so much family drama to play out at the same time Her Majesty was worrying about her husband of 73 years," said one source. Others cited Harry's decision not to fly to the U.K. to see his grandfather during his hospital stay as being deeply disrespectful. "Her Majesty and Prince Philip have always had an extraordinarily close relationship with Prince Harry," an insider told Best Life. "His decision to stay away at such a difficult time just didn't make sense and seemed hurtful."
Some friends of the Royal Family have found Harry's downcast demeanor in his interview with Winfrey confusing, considering his recent comments about the Queen. He told both James Corden and Winfrey that he has had more contact with the Queen since leaving royal life than he did when he was living in Britain.
By all accounts, the Queen has always had a soft spot for her grandson, and had been very welcoming to Meghan in the past, a point the duchess made clear in her interview with Winfrey. Her Majesty had hoped that Harry and Meghan would return to royal life someday and was deeply disappointed when the couple announced last month they had no plans to do so. At the time, Harry and Meghan made their displeasure known about the Queen not restoring Harry's military titles and rejecting the couple's request to be part-time royals.
"Harry very clearly loves his grandmother and he adores his wife," said a source. "He must find a way to show the Queen respect even if he and Meghan are at odds with the family. Flying to the U.K. for Prince Philip's funeral is a good start."
And for more early scoop on the Queen and another royal, check out The One Thing the Queen Didn't Like About Kate Early On, Says Insider.
For many years, the Prince of Wales was closer to Harry than to William, but he was on the receiving end of much of his younger son's anger and disappointment during the interview with Winfrey. Insiders told The Sun that Charles was "deeply hurt" by Harry's list of grievances, particularly those surrounding the tensions during the exit agreement negotiations. The prince's resentment towards his father was plainly evident when he said Charles had stopped taking his calls. "I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls," Harry told Winfrey. "And then [Prince Charles] said, 'Can you put this all in writing?'"
Harry also alleged his father and his brother were "trapped" by the monarchy, reportedly leaving them reeling, The Sunday Times reported.
Days later, Charles was once again stunned when it was revealed Harry had spoken to CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, who reported the first post-interview call with Charles and William was "not productive." "That made everything so much more difficult because the trust was gone," a royal insider said. "How can Charles or William talk openly to Harry if they have to worry that every word they say will be dissected in the media?"
Despite all that, The Daily Mail has reported Charles wants to reconcile with his son. One insider told the outlet, "[Charles] also realizes that nothing good will come of prolonging the fight. He feels it is time to heal. Now is the time to mend a broken relationship."
If there isn't some sort of reconciliation between Harry and Charles while the duke is in the U.K. for his grandfather's funeral, it could damage their relationship forever. "Harry needs to recognize his father needs him now," said an insider. "This is not the time to come home spoiling for a fight."
And for more on who's struggling in the wake of the tell-all, check out This Royal Has the Most to Lose From Harry & Meghan's Interview, Insiders Say.
Harry's relationship with William is the most critical of them all. As the only people who truly understood the pressures of each other's lives, the rift between the brothers was at first shocking and is now terribly sad.
After the Sussexes' stunning interview, William was the first royal to directly respond to Harry and Meghan's allegations of racism within the House of Windsor with his simple assertion that theirs is "very much not a racist family." Insiders previously told Best Life that William was "absolutely furious" over the way his brother spoke of their family on television. Still, he knows putting on a "reunited front" and reconciling with Harry could very well be "the one thing that stops this runaway train from completely destroying the monarchy," one source said.
The hope is that Harry's trip home to attend Prince Philip's funeral could help bring the brothers together. "This will be a time of great reflection for both of them," an insider recently told Best Life. "Philip was the one who told the boys he'd walk with them behind [Princess Diana's] coffin the day of her funeral. That shared memory is a powerful one that serves as a reminder that William and Harry, even with their own paths and families, truly do need each other."
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When William was dating Kate Middleton, Harry said she became "the sister he never had." Over the years, they grew so close that Harry often showed up at William and Kate's apartment in Kensington Palace at the spur of the moment, knowing his sister-in-law would cook him a roasted chicken dinner. "They were so at ease with one another," said a Palace source. "It's sad to see it's all broken down."
While Meghan and Kate were never going to be best friends, there was hope that they could have a cordial relationship. That all fell apart when Harry and Meghan got engaged and the growing rift between the brothers widened the gap between their wives, too.
According to The Daily Mail, Kate was "mortified" when Meghan told Winfrey that the well-known story of her making Kate cry before the royal wedding in 2018 was untrue, claiming the "reverse" is what actually happened. Kate was also "disappointed and hurt" that Meghan had not so subtly included her in comments about the Royal Family doing nothing to stem the tide of negative press the Duchess of Sussex was receiving at the time. ("The narrative about making Kate cry was the beginning of a real character assassination and they knew it wasn't true," Meghan said. "I would have never wanted that to come out about her ever, even though it had happened.")
If Harry is to make amends with Kate, that would surely start with William, who is fiercely protective of her. "Whatever the real story is, there can be no truce with Kate if there is no truce with William," said a royal insider. "Things must be handled delicately."
And for more on how the royals are faring in the public eye, check out This Is the Most Popular Royal After Harry & Meghan's Tell-All, Poll Shows
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.