Palace Insiders Fear Prince Harry Has Become a "Loose Cannon"
"It is incomprehensible that Prince Harry would talk about the Commonwealth in this way," an insider says.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have appeared in several videos championing various causes and supporting charities. As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum, the couple announced they would be shifting their focus to fighting racial inequality and advocating for social justice. During a recent video call where Harry and Meghan met with young Black global leaders from the Commonwealth Trust, which is headed by Queen Elizabeth, the prince angered royal insiders by telling the group, "When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past."
Harry continued: "I think so many people have done such an amazing, incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge on here that there is so much more still to do. It's not gonna be easy. And in some cases it's not going to be comfortable, but it needs to be done."
A Palace source told me there is concern that Harry has become "a loose cannon" who "has forgotten his allegiance to the Crown."
"It is incomprehensible that Prince Harry would talk about the Commonwealth in this way, knowing how important it is to the Queen," said one Palace insider. "Whether or not that is formally acknowledged by the Palace, his remarks were thoughtless and insulting. A lot of people are asking, 'What was he thinking?'"
Veteran royal photographer Arthur Edwards, who has known Harry since he was a boy and traveled extensively with members of the royal family to Commonwealth nations, wrote in The Sun that he was stunned by Harry's comments. "Prince Harry is entitled to his views. But in criticizing the Commonwealth–the organization closest to his grandmother's heart–he has simply lost the plot," wrote Edwards, who said earlier this year he didn't believe the prince wanted to leave the U.K.
In April 2018, the Queen appointed Harry as youth ambassador for the Commonwealth, a voluntary coalition of 54 member-states comprised mostly of England's former colonies. It was his highest-profile public role to date in helping to modernize the monarchy. Shortly after the announcement, Harry gave a speech in London where he told the crowd, "In my new role, I will work to support the Queen; my father, the Prince of Wales; and my brother, William, all of whom know that young people are the answer to the challenges of today. I am also incredibly grateful that the woman I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work, of which she too is hugely excited to take part in." Under the terms of their exit agreement, Harry and Meghan retained their previously awarded titles as president and vice-president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.
In their first official interview after their engagement in 2017, Meghan spoke about her excitement over "being able to go around to the Commonwealth" with her new husband. She even made sure she acknowledged the Commonwealth at the royal wedding. The designer of her stunningly simple dress, Clare Waight Keller, came up with the idea of embellishing her veil with sewn-on flowers from each of the Commonwealth nations (as well as the poppy, the flower of Meghan's home state, California).
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Now that the Sussexes have decamped to live full-time in Los Angeles, Harry's ties to the Palace have loosened considerably. Just this week, it was announced that Prince William and Harry would no longer be working together on the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund set up after her death in 1997, whose funds go to the Royal Foundation. Proceeds from the fund will now be split among the brothers' charitable foundations: the Royal Foundation, now headed by William and Kate Middleton, and Harry and Meghan's newly announced Archewell.
"Harry made a pledge when he stepped down that he would uphold the values of the Queen," said a royal insider. "That is not a promise that is taken lightly at the Palace. He would be well-advised to remember that." And for more on the Sussexes, check out Here's Why the Palace Is Fuming Over Harry and Meghan's Biography.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.