Friends of Prince Charles fear any plan by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to return to Britain with their children for the Platinum Jubilee weekend could overshadow the commemoration of the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet, named after the Queen’s childhood nickname, has never met her extended family in Britain, and their son Archie, who is three next month, has not been to the UK since November 2019.
The Queen is said to be hoping the Sussexes will return to the UK with their children, but a source close to Charles said there were concerns that a visit coinciding with the Jubilee weekend in early June – when Lilibet will turn one – will distract attention from his mother’s milestone, by creating a ‘circus’.
It comes as Meghan risked angering the royal household as she hailed her and her husband’s ‘service’ in a speech to mark the opening of the Invictus Games, telling competitors: ‘This is service’.
When the couple stepped back from royal life, the Queen said the pair would not ‘continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.
In a terse response, Harry and Meghan said at the time: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Harry, who is writing a memoir scheduled for publication later this year, greeted his father with a kiss at Windsor on Thursday, but insiders described the meeting as ‘frosty’. They had been scheduled to meet at 10am, but Charles was left waiting when Harry and Meghan were delayed.
It meant father and son had only 15 minutes together before Charles had to leave to prepare for the Maundy Thursday Service at nearby St George’s Chapel. The Duchess of Cornwall was left holding the fort.
A source told The Mail on Sunday that Camilla had not initially been keen to take part, considering it best for father and son to have time together, but when it became clear that Meghan would be joining the meeting, she agreed to attend.
It was the first time Charles and Camilla had come face-to-face with the Duchess of Sussex since she accused an unnamed senior member of the Royal Family of racism during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In response to that allegation and others in the programme, the Queen issued a statement in which she said that ‘recollections may vary’.
Aides to Prince Charles fear that a summer return to the UK by Harry and Meghan could ‘hijack and overshadow’ the Queen ‘s Platinum Jubilee , it has been reported. Pictured: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Invictus Games opening ceremony at Zuiderpark on April 16, 2022 in The Hague, The Netherlands
Prince Charles’ aides are said to be concerned that his son and daughter-in-law will create a ‘circus’ by coming to the UK with their young children – Archie and Lilibet – and thus overshadow the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Pictured: ueen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster on October 14, 2019 (file photo)
The source said: ‘Given the background, Charles and Camilla were understandably nervous about the whole meeting and a bit worried that they might be hijacked. There’s a lot of trust that now needs to be built up.
‘I’m sure concerns about the book Harry is writing may have played some part and Camilla felt she needed to be there, not only to support Charles, but also to hear everything that was said to ensure that recollections of what was said would not vary this time.’
Harry was last in the UK to unveil a statue of his mother Princess Diana at Kensington Palace last summer. Before that, he attended the funeral of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, in April, but not his service of thanksgiving last month.
Meghan had not been back to the UK since March 2020.
While the meeting at Windsor has revived hopes of a rapprochement, there was one notable absence – the Duke of Cambridge.
Prince William was unwilling to interrupt his family holiday to meet his brother and sister-in-law. It is understood the pair haven’t spoken for months. A source who knows both brothers said: ‘There is a lot of ground to cover with William and Harry.
‘I do think and hope they will be reconciled but it may take some time.’
The couple shared an intimate on-stage kiss at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games on Saturday night – before the emotional prince delivered a heartfelt speech to more than 500 injured veteran competitors, telling them he would be proud if his son grew up to have their ‘character’.
A crew has joined Harry and Meghan at the Invictus games as part of filming for a Netflix documentary called Heart Of Invictus – a series from Archewell Productions following people who are competing at the event.
The series is reportedly part of a £113million deal that the couple has with Netflix.
The Sun reported on Saturday that there are fears amongst the Royal Family that Netflix could seek permission to film the Sussexes at the Queen’s celebrations, although other insiders have reported they have always promised to ‘uphold the values of her Majesty’ in their new detached role from Buckingham Palace.
Harry and Meghan are yet to officially confirm whether they will attend the June celebrations.
The Queen is yet to meet her great-granddaughter, 11-month-old Lilibet, who was named after Her Majesty’s childhood nickname. Archie – seventh in line to the British throne – is now two years old, and reports have previously hinted at the Queen’s sadness at not having the chance to spend more time with him
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, kiss during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games
The couple’s PDA moment came after Meghan had taken to the stage inside the Zuiderpark stadium in The Hague, the Netherlands, to introduce the Duke of Sussex.
Meghan spoke of her ‘love and respect ‘ for Harry before mentioning their two young children and saying she could ‘not be prouder of my husband’.
The Duchess cut a chic figure at the event in an elegant white top, high waisted black trousers and a gold Cartier necklace, while Harry opted for a grey suit and open-collared white shirt.
It comes after they spent the day meeting injured military veterans before hitching a ride on mini Land Rovers – driven by children – with their Netflix crew in tow to capture every moment.
Meghan told the audience Harry had spent ‘many late nights and early mornings’ planning for the games – which he founded in 2014 – and described him as ‘incredible’
After thanking the veterans present for their military service, she said: ‘Now it is my distinguished honour to introduce someone who I think you’ll be excited to hear from.
‘He has spent many late nights and early mornings planning for these games to make them as perfect as possible for each of you.
‘I could not love and respect him more and I know many of you feel the same because he is your fellow veteran having served two tours of Afghanistan, and ten years of military service and the founder of Invictus Games and the father to our two little ones, Archie and Lili.
‘Please welcome my incredible husband, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.’
Harry took to the stage and kissed Meghan as he took the microphone out of her hand. He smiled broadly as she returned to her seat and said: ‘Thank you my love’.
He also referenced his son Archie in his speech, saying they often talked about what he would want to do when he grows up.
Harry told the audience that his son one day wanted to be an astronaut and another day a pilot.
‘A helicopter pilot, obviously,’ said Harry, in reference to his own military career.
He then added that some days his son wanted to be Kwazii, a daredevil cat from the cartoon TV cartoon series Octonauts.
‘If you are laughing, then you have seen it,’ Harry told the audience.
He continued: ‘But I remind him no matter what you want to be when you grow up it is your character that matters most and nothing would make his mum and me prouder than to see him have the character of what we see before us today.
Harry and Meghan take to the stage during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in The Hague on Saturday night
The Sussexes share a kiss before Prince Harry delivers a speech to thousands in the audience
Prince Harry appeared to get emotional after he was introduced to the stage by Meghan
Meghan took to the stage to introduce Prince Harry during the opening ceremony on Saturday
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex delivers an emotional speech during the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony at Zuiderpark
Meghan and Harry all smiles while watching the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games
Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Mark Rutte speaks during the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 Opening Ceremony
Harry presents the gold medals to the winners of Land Rover Driving Challenge during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in The Hague
Prince Harry presents medals during the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony
Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs performs on stage during the Invictus Games opening ceremony
Kaiser Chiefs perform at the opening ceremony of the fifth Invictus Games on Saturday night
Military volunteers carry blocks lit up with pictures of Invictus Games athletes during the opening ceremony
Harry and Meghan in their seats at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games on Saturday
Harry takes the microphone from Meghan before giving a heartfelt speech to the injured veteran competitors gathered
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave after the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games venue in The Hague
Wheelchair-bound members of the Ukraine team arrive to huge applause at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games
The Ukrainian team arrive for the Invictus Games opening ceremony at Zuiderpark – where they were met with a huge standing ovation
‘You as a community have overcome immense challenges and you are healing and teaching the world as you go.
‘You are people of resilience, and strength and of heart. You have the heart of Invictus.’
Harry and Meghan had earlier walked hand in hand upon their arrival as they approached team members and stopped for a chat and some photos – before taking their seats to hear a speech from Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when Mr Rutte paid tribute to the Ukrainian team, telling them: ‘I am sure you are here with mixed feelings and great concern of what is happening back home.
‘Some members of the Invictus community cannot be here as they are fighting on the front line.’
He added: ‘We are also thinking of those in the community who have paid the ultimate price. We are behind you and support you and together we can show that unity and solidarity will win over conflict.’
Hans Ploegmakers, an injured veteran, then played the Dutch version of The Last Post on trumpet followed by a minute’s silence.
The crowd were told that an empty yellow chair would be left at each of the sporting venues to salute fallen servicemen and women who had died serving their country.
In the colourful opening ceremony, flags of each of the 20 competing nations were carried out on stage to loud cheers.
They were paraded through the stadium with the Afghanistan team carrying a neutral flag as the country is currently run by the Taliban following the US-UK withdrawal last summer.
Harry was then called on to the stage to present the medals of the earlier Land Rover Driving challenge. The Duke of Sussex had been pictured sat in the passenger seat while the car was taken over an obstacle course as Meghan looked on.
The Kaiser Chiefs performed the song ‘Coming Home’ as 32 military volunteers carried lighted blocks celebrating the 5th Invictus Games.
Harry and Meghan’s arrival came after national teams walked out to a live military band – with Ukraine receiving a huge standing ovation.
The team, who were granted special permission to compete from President Volodymyr Zelensky amid the Russian invasion, waved to the cheering crowds while the band’s cover of Euphoria by Loreen blasted through the rafters.
Others performing tonight include Dutch singer-songwriter Anneke van Giersbergen and Hague-based rock band DI-RECT.
The Games will run until next Friday and will see more than 500 competitors from 20 nations battle it out in events including archery, athletics, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
The annual event was founded by Harry, with the first ever edition being held in London back in 2014, followed by the US, Canada and Australia.
The Hague was supposed to host the 2020 Games but it was pushed back to this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Palace say public must assume the Queen won’t attend public events – after she ‘regretfully’ cancelled engagements due to mobility issues
The public must start assuming the Queen will not attend public events, a palace source has told The Mail on Sunday.
In recent months, Buckingham Palace has been forced to make several last-minute announcements that the Queen has ‘regretfully’ pulled out of engagements due to mobility issues.
Under a new strategy, aides will now confirm her attendance only on the day of an event.
‘The assumption must now be that the Queen will not be present at events,’ the source said. ‘If Her Majesty does attend, it will be decided on the day and she will be accompanied by another member of the Royal Family.’
During her record-breaking 70-year reign, the Queen’s attendance at most engagements has been planned for months and often announced publicly weeks in advance.
But the presence of the Monarch – who marks her 96th birthday on Thursday – will now be a bonus, rather than guaranteed. The decision means an even greater role for Prince Charles, under whose leadership – in large part – the Monarchy is effectively continuing.
Prince Charles (pictured with the Queen) is set to have an even greater role within the monarchy as a source says the public must not expect the Queen to appear at public events
The Queen has been dealing with ongoing mobility problems, but has seemed well during recent virtual engagements
On Thursday, Charles stood in for the Queen when she missed the Maundy Service for the first time in 52 years. While the Queen is not suffering from a new illness and has appeared well during virtual engagements, continuing mobility problems meant she could not attend the ceremony at St George’s Chapel near her apartments at Windsor Castle.
Her most recent public appearance came on March 29 at the thanksgiving service for her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey.
But over the past six months she has withdrawn from several other events historically central to her diary, including the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph and the annual Commonwealth Service.
Aides are hopeful the Queen will be able to attend some of the events organised to mark her 70th jubilee in person, although it is expected these will be few in number.