Two critical photographs released by the Queen over the holidays are said to have deeply upset Harry and Meghan and may have been the final straw.
Two photographs issued by Buckingham Palace over the Christmas and New Year period upset the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over their perceived exclusion from the royal family, British media reports.
On Christmas Day, the Queen’s message acknowledged 2019 had been a year that was “quite bumpy” given the family dramas including Prince Philip’s car crash, Prince Andrew’s disastrous Newsnight interview and Meghan and Harry’s soul-baring ITV documentary.
And it didn’t go unnoticed by royal watchers that the pictures surrounding her did not include Meghan, Harry and her new grandson, Archie.
Instead, she was framed by pictures of Prince Philip as well as Prince Charles and Camilla and the Cambridge family, along with historic images of King George VI and the Apollo 11 astronauts.
Shortly after New Year’s Eve, the monarch released another picture of herself with Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George – just the second time it has been done.
The picture reinforced the direct line of succession and highlighted the fact Prince Charles was honing his long-planned for idea of a slimmed down monarchy.
Little more than a week later, it seems the heir to the throne will get his wish after Prince Harry and Meghan announced they would step back from their role as “senior” royals in an abrupt move that reportedly took place without having consulted senior family members first.
Despite announcing they had chosen “to make a transition this year” and having given it enough time and thought to produce lengthy copy for their official website, the couple had reportedly only just consulted Buckingham Palace about their intentions, with the Palace announcing discussions were at an early stage and were “complicated”.
ITV Royal Editor Chris Ship told Good Morning Britain the New Year pictures reinforced the point that Harry and Meghan would not be in the spotlight going forward.
“The portrait that Buckingham Palace released to mark the start of the decade. It was the Queen and the three future kings – and there was also a bit of video of them stirring the Christmas pudding.
“I’m not saying they were cutting Harry and Meghan out because it was a brutal fact that Harry was never part of that line of succession but start of a decade it felt like the royal family was very much focusing on the future – the Queen and her three heirs,” he said.
Others on social media described the Queen’s Christmas message as a “clue” that has only now become clear.
“So that’s why the queen didn’t have a photo of Harry, Meghan and their son next to her in her Christmas photo,” one said on Twitter.
Another wrote: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were missing from the Queen’s 2019 Christmas speech. Some said it was because of only heirs were in display. Now we understand clearly why.”
“The Queen didn’t have a photo of them on the table. In plain sight. Classic Queen,” said another.