When Will Queen Elizabeth See Harry and Meghan's Son Archie Again?
"There was some concern the Queen might never see Archie again," an insider says.
Just like most people who have been staying away from loved ones amid the coronavirus, the British royals' quarantine efforts have kept the family scattered and separated for the past three months. But the most painful part of the separation, according to a royal insider, has been Queen Elizabeth's inability to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. "The Queen takes great delight spending time with her great-grandchildren and has barely had any time with Archie," said my source. "She is quite sad about this—and it also saddens her that the other children are being deprived of seeing their youngest cousin."
Baby Archie has not been back to Britain since Nov. 2019, before Harry and Meghan left to spend Thanksgiving with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, in Los Angeles. The couple later extended their stay over Christmas and New Year's, spending the entire six-week holiday in Canada. In early January, Harry and Meghan returned to Britain without Archie, which immediately raised concerns behind Palace walls. "Without knowing what was to come, everyone was quite surprised," said my source.
Then, a day after their return, the couple made the explosive announcement that they would be stepping back as senior royals, stunning Her Majesty and Palace insiders. Meghan headed back to Canada to be with Archie, leaving Harry to negotiate the terms of "Megxit" solo. "During those first few days, there was some concern the Queen might never see Archie again," my source explained. "It was all such a shock."
In their announcement, Harry and Meghan said they planned to "balance [their] time between the United Kingdom and North America," but that seems highly unlikely now since the couple departed Canada for good and decided to make Los Angeles their home base. Their official U.K. residence, Frogmore Cottage, which underwent an extensive £2.4 million ($3 million) renovation at tax payer expense, stands empty in Windsor. (The couple has promised to repay the cost.)
In March, when Harry and Meghan were back in the U.K. for their final round of engagements as senior royals, the Queen was hopeful that she would finally get to see her great-grandson again before the couple made their official exit from royal duties. Unfortunately, Harry and Meghan decided to leave Archie behind at the Sussexes' rented Vancouver Island compound while they wrapped things up in Britain. At the time, a source told me the move was "extremely disappointing and quite hurtful to the Queen, Prince Charles, and the rest of the family." According to the Express, the Queen was "very sad" over not seeing Archie, who, some speculated, may have been left behind in Canada out of an abundance of caution as worries about the coronavirus increased. (At that time, there were 36 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.K. and 24 in Canada.)
"The Queen had already gone many months without seeing her great-grandson before the pandemic," said my source. "When she did not get to see him in March, there was every hope that perhaps there might be a visit around her birthday. But of course, given the circumstances, that was impossible."
Like other families around the globe, the royals have made use of technology to stay connected while living apart. Harry, Meghan, and Archie had a Zoom call with Her Majesty for her 94th birthday, with the Queen reportedly commenting on Archie's red hair. The couple also spoke with the Queen—along with other family members and friends—over the phone on May 6, when the littlest redheaded royal celebrated his first birthday.
The 94-year-old monarch marked Archie's birthday by sharing a photo on the Royal Family's Twitter and Instagram accounts, taken when she met Archie at Windsor Castle after his birth.
In June, Harry and Meghan were expected to attend Trooping the Colour, the official celebration of Queen Elizabeth's birthday (which is actually Apr. 21), but that event, like all others on the royal calendar for the foreseeable future, was canceled. If the event had gone off, it could have marked Archie's first time on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the royal family's traditional collective appearance—and the first time he would have appeared together with his cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.
Harry and Meghan had also accepted an invitation from the Queen to spend time at Balmoral, her summer retreat in Scotland. They were planning to spend time with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as well during their stay. The holiday would have been Archie's first visit to the royal retreat, which is said to be one of the Queen's favorite places. It's where Harry and Prince William spent their summers as children. Sadly, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, those plans aren't likely to come to pass either. Royal correspondent Danielle Stacey told Hello, "It seems unlikely that the Sussexes or any member of the royal family will be traveling this summer."
"It's a heartbreak that the Queen has missed sharing so many meaningful milestones with Archie," said my source. "As it would be for any great-grandparent, time spent with great grandchildren is precious. She has had so little time with him. At the moment, with everything that is happening, a full year may have passed before Her Majesty sees him again. All the Zoom calls cannot make up for having the family gathered in one place. Like she always does, the Queen has adjusted to all these unforeseen changes, but this time, she's quite unhappy about having to do so." And for more on the Queen's current state, check out Why Queen Elizabeth Could Be Considering Stepping Down, Insiders Say.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.