It should be said again and again: King Charles III and the whole palace operation proved to be utterly incompetent and tone-deaf in the days following Queen Elizabeth II’s death. The immediate focus was not on QEII, but on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Charles and Prince William were really feeling themselves as they launched a full assault on Harry and Meghan for daring to want to travel together to Balmoral. A source close to the new king said: “Charles told Harry that it wasn’t right or appropriate for Meghan to be in Balmoral at such a deeply sad time. It was pointed out to him that Kate was not going and that the numbers really should be limited to the very closest family. Charles made it very, very clear Meghan would not be welcome.” Not right or appropriate for Harry to travel with his wife and mother of his two children. Meghan “would not be welcome” because, as other palace insiders insisted, it was “wholly inappropriate” and Balmoral was for “family” only. And Meghan isn’t “family” to them.
That set the tone for everything that followed, with Charles and William’s aides once again briefing the media about all things Sussex, with all of the messiness about who was allowed to wear military uniforms and who wasn’t. The fact that Charles and his staff want everyone to know that they’re snubbing two little kids by publicly refusing to acknowledge their royal titles. The fact that Charles invited and then uninvited the Sussexes to a diplomatic mixer. And it just keeps going, because now King Charles’s aides are briefing the media that the king thinks there’s a “thaw” in relations.
Hopes of a thaw in the ‘cold war’ between The Firm and the Sussexes emerged last night after royal insiders revealed that King Charles saw ‘tremendous flickers of hope’ when he spoke to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Queen’s funeral – and even believes he might even be able to salvage the relationship with the duke and duchess.
The King’s conversations with his son and daughter-in-law at the ceremonies for the late monarch at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle left him feeling hopeful that he could mend relations with the Sussex after their acrimonious departure from the royal family.
An insider told The Telegraph: ‘It remains the case that the King loves both of his children. Over the last 16 days or so, there were tremendous flickers of hope. In terms of the future, there is hope of a cause for unity.’
Among the many challenges facing the King in his reign, including modernising Britain’s ancient monarchy, will be how to deal with the duke and duchess, who plunged The Firm into crisis after quitting public duties for a life free from royal obligations in California – from where they have made a string of damaging allegations against the institution.
This is how Charles thinks he needs to rewrite the narrative which he set himself in the first ten days as king. Instead of actually focusing on his kingship, he played petty games and now he’s reaping all of the petty prizes. If anything, what the mourning period and funeral showed the Sussexes was that they were right to go, right to stay away and right to start the process of cutting ties from these awful people. As I’ve said before, the only “win” here for all parties is to stop the bleeding, which would mean William and Charles making a commitment to stop scapegoating and briefing against the Sussexes entirely. Which isn’t going to happen.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.