Well, Camilla Tominey at the Telegraph put together a particularly crazy article about how the late Queen Elizabeth “really” felt about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Here are some things we know for sure, and I’m mentioning them because Tominey does not: QEII stayed in contact with Harry and Meghan after they Sussexited; she personally invited the Sussexes to her Jubbly; during their Jubbly visit, she made sure they had their own security; she arranged for them to visit her before the Invictus Games (which shocked many family members and courtiers); she seemed genuinely happy that they had gotten away from the royal system. Now, Tominey insists (mostly through Tom Bower quotes) that QEII was upset and angry with Harry and Meghan. Y’all know what would have upset her? The fact that Charles refuses to honor her wishes and pass along the Duke of Edinburgh title to Edward. I bet she would have been upset that Charles sold all of her beloved horses too, but I guess no one wants to talk about that. From this Telegraph piece:
The Firm’s anger: While outwardly projecting a shoulder-shrugging acceptance of events that are now well beyond their control, scratch the surface and anger still permeates across “The Firm”. The Daily Telegraph has spoken to a number of well-placed sources to piece together a picture of what really happened in the final weeks and months of Queen Elizabeth II’s life in relation to the couple she generously described as “much loved members of the family”. Regardless of how Spare – or Netflix – may interpret those events, the other side of the story does not make for comfortable reading.
She was mad about the Oprah interview: It already riled Her late Majesty’s nearest and dearest that the couple chose to appear on Oprah on March 7, 2021 while the Duke of Edinburgh was in hospital, just three months shy of his 100th birthday. It wasn’t just that Prince Philip had been in hospital for three weeks by then. We now know that his beloved wife, then 96, was also suffering from her own significant health problems. As one insider explained: “The late Queen not only knew the Duke’s health was failing but also her own. It became clear that she was on borrowed time as she began to tie up loose ends. That’s what made the Sussexes’ behaviour doubly difficult to deal with. The timing could not have been more insensitive.”
QEII’s response to the Oprah interview: Her response included the now legendary phrase: “Some recollections may vary”, inserted on the advice of advisors including Christian Jones, the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridges’ former private secretary. The late Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young and the King’s private secretary Sir Clive Alderton were also central to the discussions as aides rallied around to protect their “principals” from the fallout. While she insisted on publicly reiterating that “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members,” in private, the great-grandmother was, according to those who knew her best, “devastated”, “bewildered” and “disappointed”,
Incredulous queen: While Gyles Brandreth insists that she was sanguine about Oprah, dismissing it as “television nonsense” (compared to Prince Philip’s interpretation of the 90-minute showdown as “madness”) other insiders say she became increasingly incredulous at the damage Harry and Meghan appeared willing to inflict on their own family. She repeatedly questioned why they were persisting in attacking the very institution “that had given them so much”. She also echoed her staff’s disbelief at Harry and Meghan’s tale of abandonment when the perception from the top down was that “everyone had bent over backwards for the couple”.
News of Harry’s book, Spare: “News of the book changed everything,” said one source. “It set back any hope of a reconciliation because there is a limit to what you can discuss with someone you suspect is taking notes of every conversation.”
Visiting the Queen before Invictus: When, in April 2022, Meghan finally returned to the UK for the first time since their move to Montecito – and the birth of their daughter Lilibet Diana in June 2021 – she and Harry made a beeline for Windsor Castle en route to the Invictus Games in the Netherlands. But according to Bower, they did not stay long – an indication, seemingly, of the Queen’s inner sense of unease about their conduct. Having agreed that the couple would meet Charles and Camilla beforehand, Harry and Meghan barely had time for a cup of tea before resuming their journey to The Hague for the competition for wounded ex-service personnel. “It was a very brief encounter,” says Bower. (William and Kate were away skiing with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis).
People were trying to “protect” the Queen from the Sussexes: “While the couple always tried to separate the monarch from the institution, the late Queen never saw it that way,” said a former aide. Having criticised courtiers for blocking meetings with both his father and his grandfather during the Oprah interview, Harry seemed to be suggesting that royal relations were being hampered by interfering employees. But as the ex advisor pointed out they “are always acting on instructions. It’s their job to reflect the interests of their principals and work on their behalf. It’s the easiest thing in the world to blame the staff but they were only doing what they are paid to do.”
The Jubbly trip: When the couple made another beeline for Windsor Castle, travelling straight there after landing at Farnborough Airport, she refused their request to have professional photographs taken with Archie, three, and her namesake Lilibet, one. Claiming she had a bloodshot eye, she adroitly denied the Sussexes the photo opportunity they craved. Harry was “persistent”, according to those party to the meeting, expressing a desire to get an official snap of the two Lilibets together at some point in the future. But of course it was never to be. She died three months later.
The Sussexes rejected a lot of Jubbly invites: Regardless of the hurt they caused, multiple insiders insist that “an arm was thrown around” Harry and Meghan to include them in as much as possible as non-working royals – only for them to reject the peace offering. They were in such a rush to leave the Trooping the Colour ceremony on the Thursday that they missed the magnificent flypast altogether. The Sussexes were offered the opportunity to attend both the Party At The Palace on the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon’s Platinum Pageant but declined both – leaving the UK before the colourful carnival swept down The Mall. “God, how we tried,” sighed one aide.
There’s more about what happened after QEII died, and wouldn’t you know, Tominey conveniently leaves out the part where Charles’s first act as king was to tell Harry that Meghan isn’t family, and then Charles literally briefed against the Sussexes for the next 48 hours. I also enjoy how Tominey makes “they went to Windsor” sound accusatory – the Sussexes literally have a home in Windsor, of course they went to Frogmore and of course they wanted to see QEII as soon as possible since she was the whole reason why they were visiting in the first place. I’m still begging all of these people to get some therapy too – they can’t deal with the fact that Harry only gave a sh-t about QEII and he’s not going to be ordered around by them anymore. They can’t hide the fact that they were desperate to have the Sussexes at all of the Jubbly events. I’m so glad Harry and Meghan didn’t play their games. That’s the larger issue – Harry and Meghan can’t be controlled and they’ve been abused and maligned to the point where they want accountability and justice.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images and Instar.