After the king’s speech, Omid Scobie reported that Kate was thinking about the shoes she would be filling as she became the Princess of Wales. Kate, his source said, “appreciates the history associated with this role but will understandably want to look to the future as she creates her own path.”
The changes for Harry and Meghan have so far been subtle. In the Friday address, Charles mentioned them in a way that made clear they were keeping their roles outside the family and the country. “I want also to express my love for Harry and Megan as they continue to build their lives overseas,” he said. But there are a few more legal questions about their status still outstanding. First, Harry is still technically considered a Counsellor of State, one of the four people in the line of succession who are legally allowed to stand in for the monarch on certain occasions. The list also now includes Camilla, William, Prince Andrew, and Princess Beatrice, but since Harry, Andrew, and Beatrice are not currently working royals, there might be changes forthcoming.
The second question concerns Harry and Meghan’s children, Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, who have been referred to without courtesy titles since their births. According to the Letters Patent of 1917, they are technically among the people who may be referred to as a prince or a princess. At the time of Archie’s birth, the palace announced that the Sussex children would not take any titles, with sources saying that the couple wanted their children to live normal lives. But in the March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan and Harry claimed that the choice was actually taken away from them. Ultimately, the Letters Patent can be modified by the monarch at any time, so if giving Archie and Lili titles is outside of his vision for a smaller top tier of royals, he likely will not do it.
For the past few years, the fight between the brothers has centered on a lack of trust and the fallout from the disclosures that Meghan and Harry have made in interviews and on the Apple TV+ show The Me You Can’t See, but it had been brewing for years. According to multiple royal biographies, the brothers first began to pull away from each other in fall 2016, when Harry first began dating Meghan. William reportedly said he thought his brother was moving too fast with the relationship, and Harry was said to have taken offense at his brother’s tone. In addition, fall 2018 also gave birth to rumors that Meghan and Kate had not gotten along and in fact had fought bitterly before the May 2018 wedding.
In March 2020, the couples were seated next to each other during the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, which was also Meghan and Harry’s last official engagement as senior royals. Soon thereafter, Meghan and Harry moved to Southern California, and the couple’s relationship with the wider royal family became the subject of nonstop speculation. The brothers’ next meeting happened in April 2021 at Prince Philip’s funeral, and though they were caught on camera exchanging a few words, the communication channels did not reopen.
As recently as last week, William and Harry were reportedly not entertaining a reunion. On Wednesday, about 24 hours before the queen died, Yahoo reported that the brothers had not spoken to each other even though they were staying in Windsor cottages less than a mile apart. “People are desperate for steps to be made, but behind the scenes there hasn’t been movement,” a family friend told the outlet. “What [Harry] is waiting for is accountability…Many lines were crossed by William.” The source added that William also wanted an apology.
It’s not surprising that the queen’s death might have changed their calculus. Besides, who knows what words might have been exchanged when the pair stayed overnight at Balmoral Castle last week. But from the outside, it looks like the brothers are coming to terms with the fact that their lives were bound to diverge someday. There was never a built-in role for Harry, and he seemed to feel frustration living in the royal bubble long before he met Meghan. William’s new job leading the Duchy of Cornwall is also a reminder that he will eventually have his own fortune, while Harry would have had to primarily depend on support from Charles and money left behind by Princess Diana and the Queen Mother if he had continued as a senior royal.
Now Meghan and Harry have their own income sources and no longer take public funding, which removed one motivation for press intrusion into their life. They also have their own spacious estate in Santa Barbara, where they have already hosted Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie. On Monday, Harry released his own emotional statement about the queen. By issuing it after William, he seemingly honored protocol by waiting for his turn according to the line of succession. By keeping a low profile at the Platinum Jubilee, he and Meghan proved that they were interested in being a part of the family in whatever way the palace allowed.
So maybe we can revive our hopes for a new, modified Fab Four, a public-private partnership where Meghan and Harry build their influence on the West Coast and William and Kate continue to serve the British public. William and Kate have been increasingly interested in expanding their sphere of influence into America, as a source told Vanity Fair last year, and in December, they are planning a high-profile trip to the East Coast. Maybe there will be new opportunities for them to come together for charitable reasons, or maybe they’ll just get all the children together for a playdate.
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