This Royal Is "Speaking for the Queen" on the New Harry Feud, Sources Say
"This is Her Majesty's way of making sure people know she is getting on with it," one insider said.
So far, this year has been another "annus horribilis" for Queen Elizabeth. While grieving the loss of her husband, Prince Philip, she's also endured Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's public allegations of racism and cruelty regarding the Royal Family. But through it all, Her Majesty has maintained the same dignified silence that has been a hallmark of her historic 69-year reign.
The latest controversy involving the Sussexes' decision to name their daughter Lilibet Diana has been covered by the media in near forensic detail, with outlets around the world trying to discern how the Queen feels about Harry giving his daughter the intimate nickname her father, King George VI, bestowed upon her when she was just a toddler and affectionately used only by the Duke of Edinburgh throughout their marriage. Her Majesty's silence has been filled by rampant speculation over what she's thinking about all that's happened. There's been no real insight into how the the Queen feels—until now.
In a year like no other for her and the rest of the royals, when the words of every official statement from the Palace are parsed and every gesture scrutinized, one of the Queen's sons and his wife have stepped in to take control of the royal narrative. Read on to find out which royal is believed to have given voice to the Queen's thoughts and is shedding insight into what's really happening during these difficult days behind Palace walls.
The Queen's youngest son and his wife have been speaking out on Royal Family matters and have taken on a more visible in supporting her.
Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, have emerged as key players in giving a royal voice during the latest series of crises involving Harry and Meghan, just as they did in the aftermath of Philip's death. Since Harry and Meghan's departure in 2o2o, the earl and countess have taken on more royal duties and assumed a higher profile within the family while offering strong personal support to the Queen. Edward said in a recent interview with CNN this past week: "Trying to be there as a friendly ear at times is, absolutely, is really important."
At the time of the Duke of Edinburgh's passing, Sophie and Edward with their daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, attended a Sunday service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor where the earl thanked the crowd for coming to see them and called his father's death "a dreadful shock." "We're sort of trying to come to terms with that," he saud.
Sophie also spoke movingly about her father-in-law, tearfully revealing details of his final moments. "It was so gentle," she told reporters. "Just like someone took him by the hand and off he went."
In the June 10 interview with CNN, what would have been his father's 100th birthday, Edward spoke about the duke's legacy and sounded genuinely touched when reporter Max Foster inquired about how the Queen was holding up. "Thank you for asking," the earl said, before noting that his mother was doing "remarkably well" despite the death of her husband. He said she's found comfort in her royal duties and was enjoying getting back into her routine after a "difficult" lockdown.
"There is absolutely no way Prince Edward would be talking about how his mother, the Queen, feels without her expressed permission," said one royal insider. "She is extremely close to Edward and Sophie, who have been there for her throughout everything that's happened this year. This is Her Majesty's way of making sure people know she is getting on with it, that she remains committed to her royal duties and she is grateful for everyone's support."
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When it comes to Harry and Meghan, Edward is "speaking for the Queen," a source said.
When asked by CNN how challenging the continuing issues with Harry and Meghan have been for the Queen, Edward quickly responded that it's been "very difficult for everyone." He artfully dodged a direct question about what he thought of the Sussexes naming their daughter Lilibet by saying: "Well, we just wish them all happiness. That's fantastic news and absolutely, I hope they are very happy."
Edward also weighed in on Harry and Meghan's decision to exit royal life. "Listen, weirdly, we've all been there before—we've all had excessive intrusion and attention in our lives. And we've all dealt with it in slightly different ways," he said. "We wish them the very best of luck. It's a really hard decision."
A Palace source told Best Life, "Edward is very much speaking for the Queen when he talks of the family wanting Harry and Meghan to be happy. His comments echo every statement the Queen has issued since Megxit, stressing that Harry, Meghan and Archie [Mountbatten-Windsor] remain 'much loved' family members. Now there is another royal baby. People are genuinely happy for them, but that doesn't mean there are not hurt feelings. What he didn't say is just as important as what he did. If everyone was happy about the baby's name, he most certainly would have said so."
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The Earl and Countess of Wessex have used humor to disarm interviewers asking about Harry and Meghan.
Prince William and Prince Charles, both at the very center of Harry's feud with the Royal Family, have chosen to say next to nothing about it. ("That would only add fuel to the fire," a source told Best Life.) But Edward, who isn't directly involved, can safely comment from afar and still affect how the family is perceived. He recently told a BBC interviewer: "I stay way out of it. It's much the safest place to be."
Still, when faced with the barrage of non-stop coverage of the royal rift, he admitted to CNN that there is a "very sad" split between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the Royal Family. Rather than take a stiff and stoic tone, Edward lightened the mood and made the royals' situation relatable, by adding with a laugh, "But that's families for you."
Earlier this month, Edward and Sophie also used humor to diffuse a tricky situation when they sat down for a joint interview with The Telegraph and were asked if they'd watched the Sussexes' bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey. Edward replied, "Oprah who?" with Sophie chiming in, "Yes, what interview?"
Edward and Sophie's recent comments very much reflect what the Queen wants: family unity.
When Harry returned to England for the first time in over a year for Prince Philip's funeral, he didn't exactly receive a warm welcome. Except for his visit with his cousin Princess Eugenie, the rest of the Royal Family who had grown weary over everything that happened over the past year, barely acknowledged him at the service. (Notably, Harry did talk to William as they both walked together back to Windsor Castle.) In an April report, Best Life revealed there were three royals who all but ignored Harry because, according to inside sources, they were not ready to forgive him. That trifecta—Edward, Sophie, and the Queen's only daughter, Princess Anne—believed he had been disrespectful to the Queen, sources explained.
A few months down the road, as the Queen, Charles, and William try to find the best way forward with Harry and Meghan, Edward and Sophie's comments reflect the family's decision to take the high road and play the long game. In their recent interview with The Telegraph, the countess talked about the Wessexes' higher visibility within the family. "Inevitably the spotlight and the focus fall on younger members as time goes on. We've plodded along doing what we're doing, hopefully doing it well. And then all of a sudden there's a bit of a hiatus and things have changed a bit," she said. "Naturally, the media are looking for people to fill the so-called void. But you know, we have been doing this for what feels like a pretty long time!"
Despite everything that has gone on with Harry and Meghan, Sophie echoed the Queen's comments when she said, "We are still a family no matter what happens, we always will be."
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Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.