When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed that they intended to step down as senior royals, their decision reportedly sent shockwaves through the royal family. Prince Charles in particular is said to have felt hurt by his son and daughter-in-law’s announcement – perhaps because he and Meghan were apparently once close. And if reports are to be believed, the Duchess of Sussex may have only pushed her father-in-law further away with her actions in January 2020.
As many know, of course, Harry and Meghan first unveiled their controversial plans at the start of 2020. Then, just two months later, the couple attended their last engagement as royal highnesses at the annual Commonwealth Service in London. And owing to the significance of the outing, there were plenty of eyes on the couple as they arrived at Westminster Abbey.
Dressed to impress, Meghan stood out from the crowd in an emerald gown by Emilia Wickstead. Harry, meanwhile, looked smart in a blue suit, with its green fabric lining echoing the shade of his wife’s outfit. Though subtle, this detail may have had a hidden meaning – hinting, perhaps, that the pair were still united even despite the fallout from their decision.
And during their last appearance as senior royals, Harry and Meghan made time for wellwishers, greeting the crowds outside Westminster Abbey and chatting to a group of schoolchildren following the Commonwealth Service. Meghan also waved from her car as she and Harry drove off to their new life together.
Yet the Sussexes’ seeming ease with the public may have belied the tension that was rumored to have built up prior to their appearance at the Commonwealth Service. According to a March 2020 report by the Daily Mail, the two were apparently “upset” and “emotional” when they were not allowed to arrive at Westminster Abbey in the Queen’s party.
Instead, Harry and Meghan were supposedly told to find their seats prior to the Queen’s arrival. In the end, then, they were placed next to Harry’s uncle Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex. And the couple’s low-profile entrance marked a stark change from the events of the previous year, when they had accompanied the other senior royals in the procession.
So, Harry and Meghan joined Edward and Sophie in awaiting the other members of the family at Westminster Abbey. Nonetheless, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were apparently eager to ease any tensions by offering to take their seats ahead of the Queen, Charles and Camilla.
By the time that William and Kate allegedly decided to put on a united front with Harry and Meghan, though, some 2,000 orders of service had already been created. These made it evident that the Cambridges were due to enter with the other senior royals and that the Sussexes had seemingly been dropped from the procession.
In the end, then, it seems that William and Kate opted for some sort of middle ground. While the duke and duchess had been permitted to enter Westminster alongside the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, they also arrived ahead of the other senior royals and took their seats quickly. But even this reported gesture of goodwill may not quite have been enough.
You see, after video footage emerged of the event inside Westminster Abbey, tongues began to wag. That’s because the exchange of greetings between Harry, Meghan, William and Kate appeared to be remarkably curt. And royal-watchers and members of the media started to fiercely speculate over the state of the relationship between the princes and their wives.
As William and Kate were taking their seats in Westminster Abbey ahead of the service, the Duke of Cambridge and his brother seemed to acknowledge each other briefly. Meghan, meanwhile, was seen waving at her brother-in-law, saying “Hi” and then “Hello.” By contrast, though, a report in the Daily Mail didn’t mention Kate greeting the Sussexes at all.
The seemingly frosty reunion between the Sussexes and Cambridges came after Harry seemed to publicly acknowledge that there had been dissent within the ranks. Specifically, the prince addressed the rumors that he and William were growing apart in the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, which was premiered by British broadcaster ITV in October 2019.
While being interviewed for the program, Harry said of his relationship with William, “Inevitably, you know, stuff happens. But we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him. And, as I know, he will always be there for me.”
Seemingly admitting that he had become less close to William, Harry continued, “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy. But I love him dearly. And, you know, the majority of stuff is created out of nothing. But as brothers, you know, you have good days, [and] you have bad days.”
Rumors of a rift between the two princes began when Harry and Meghan chose to relocate from Kensington Palace to Windsor’s Frogmore Cottage. It’s also been alleged that things turned sour after William apparently warned Harry about rushing into marriage with the former Suits star. And, of course, there have been a number of reports in the press claiming that Meghan and Kate do not get on.
So, the Cambridges’ rumored snub of the Sussexes at the Commonwealth Service only seemed to fuel speculation that all was not well between Harry and William and their wives. But the awkward meeting between the foursome was apparently not the only potential cause of upset for Harry and Meghan in the run-up to what has since been dubbed “Megxit.”
Before Meghan and Harry left the U.K. to return to Canada, they are said to have thrown a goodbye lunch for their staff at Frogmore Cottage. The employees of the royal household had lost their jobs, you see, as a result of the couple’s decision to relocate across the Atlantic. And that final meal together was said to have been an emotional affair, too.
According to Harper’s Bazaar royal editor Omid Scobie, Meghan even wept at the event for the workers. The journalist additionally claimed that Harry was “heartbroken” to be relinquishing the military honors he’d earned after having spent ten years serving in the British Army.
In a March 2020 article for the magazine’s website, Scobie added that it had “crushed” Harry and Meghan to have to resign as senior royals. He further explained, “It’s a decision that the couple still feel wasn’t necessary. But [it] also wasn’t a surprise given the lack of support they received, as they were relentlessly attacked by sections of the British press with almost daily mistruths and hateful commentary.”
If Scobie’s analysis of the situation is to be believed, then it seems that things couldn’t have gotten much worse for Harry and Meghan. But behind the scenes, it’s said that there was even further tension brewing between the duchess and her father-in-law. And – perhaps surprisingly – the source of the discord was apparently all down to Meghan’s conduct on social media.
Reports suggesting that Meghan and Charles’ relationship was under strain may come as a surprise to fans of the royal family. Indeed, at Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018, it was the Prince of Wales who walked the bride down the aisle at Westminster Abbey rather than her own father, Thomas Markle Sr.
In a statement released prior to the ceremony, Kensington Palace announced, “Ms. Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St George’s Chapel on her wedding day. [Charles] is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to the royal family in this way.”
Then, following Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, it was claimed that Charles shared a close bond with his daughter-in-law. In September 2018 a reported royal insider told Vanity Fair, “The wedding was a real turning point. Charles showed so much love towards Harry and Meghan, and I think Harry will be eternally grateful to his papa for stepping in and giving Meghan’s hand in marriage. The bond between them is very close.”
The source then referred to the strained relationship between Meghan and Thomas, adding, “Charles has been very supportive of Meghan and everything she is going through with her own father. He’s got a real soft spot for her and thinks she’s the best thing to have happened to Harry.”
Indeed, a 2018 article by the Daily Mail claims that Charles believed Meghan could have been a valuable addition to the royal family – helping to modernize their image for the 21st century. He also apparently admired her strength and enjoyed teaching her about the history of the clan she’d married into. As a result, Charles was allegedly “floored” by Harry and Meghan’s agreement to step back from royal life.
And to make matters worse, in January 2020 a source claimed to The Mail on Sunday that Charles was “frustrated” with Meghan over her social media posts. That month, the prince had officially unveiled his “Sustainable Markets Initiative” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The green economic scheme is intended to assist in the fight against climate change – a cause about which Charles is particularly passionate.
According to CNN, Charles’ initiative calls for those in charge to put the planet and its citizens “at the heart of global value creation.” And while addressing the audience in Davos, the prince explained his stance further, saying, “Nature is, in fact, the lifeblood of our financial markets and, as such, we must – rapidly – realign our own economy to mimic nature’s economy and work in harmony with it.”
But the Mail on Sunday report claims that Charles felt the reveal of his project was overshadowed by Meghan’s social media posts. At the same time Charles was in Davos, pictures were posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram account that showed Meghan’s recent visit to an animal shelter.
And Charles was allegedly peeved by Meghan’s behavior precisely because he had tried to avoid such a clash. The Mail on Sunday source revealed, “The Palace wanted someone from their side involved in the coordination of diaries and press activities last week. But the request was rejected by the Sussexes. The couple’s rejection of any simple coordination hasn’t gone down too well with Charles.”
Meghan’s Instagram post hadn’t just potentially overshadowed Charles’ activities, either. At almost the same time that the images of the Duchess of Sussex appeared online, Kate began a tour of the U.K. intended to raise awareness of a venture focused on early childhood.
But while Charles may now no longer be happy with Meghan, she and Harry probably need to keep on the Prince of Wales’ good side. That’s because he will reportedly bankroll the couple in the first year of their independence – and despite the fact that the two are said to be jointly worth over $40 million.
The “Megxit” deal also states that Harry and Meghan have to reimburse the nearly $3 million of taxpayers’ money used to renovate Frogmore Cottage. It’s been said, after all, that they intend to keep the Grade II listed property in Windsor as their U.K. home.
And as Harry and Meghan concluded their official duties on March 31, 2020, they are no longer working royals. As such, they will not use their HRH titles and will instead simply go by the names of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Harry, Duke of Sussex. Harry has also forgone the right to call himself the Captain General Royal Marines, the Honorary Air Commandant of Royal Air Force Honington and the Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy.
What’s more, although Harry and Meghan will retain their private associations and patronages, they will no longer be official representatives of the Queen. Things may yet change, though, as it’s said that the entire arrangement will be reviewed by senior royals after a year.
In any case, when Meghan and Harry announced that they would be leaving the royal family in January 2020, the couple said on their official Instagram page that they wanted to “carve out a progressive new role.” But only time will tell what that role will look like – or the impact that it may have on the institution of the monarchy.
Yet despite the suggestions that Harry and Meghan have been at loggerheads with other members of the royal family, they did put on a respectful display at the Commonwealth Service. In a tribute to Prince Charles, Meghan was seen curtsying to the future monarch in recognition of his superior rank.
According to royal protocol, Meghan is obliged to curtsy to anyone of greater standing within the family when they enter a room. This includes the Queen and her immediate heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William. The duchess is also required to curtsy to Kate, who will become Queen Consort when her husband takes the throne.
Even so, there was much ado over Meghan’s first public curtsy on Christmas Day 2017. On that occasion, the duchess bent down for the Queen outside the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and was criticized at the time for not positioning her legs properly when making the gesture. More recently, though, it seems as though Meghan has perfected the mark of respect.
At the Commonwealth Service in 2020, Meghan was first seen curtsying to the Queen before repeating the action for her father-in-law. While Harry, William and Kate seemed to acknowledge Charles with slight nods of their heads, Meghan was the only person to bend down in his presence. And the move didn’t go unnoticed on social media.
Writing on Instagram, one commenter said that Meghan was “so great” for curtsying to Charles. Another individual claimed, meanwhile, that she was “killing [the other royals] with kindness” with the move. But whatever Meghan’s intentions, the moment was a sweet one – and hopefully it won’t be the last in the duchess’ relationship with Charles.