With the amount of drama floating around the royal family in recent years, it should come as no surprise that major changes are coming.
King Charles III may have extended a public olive branch to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — but that doesn’t mean the new monarch will let the couple get away with whatever they want.
In his first speech as King on Friday, he addressed the Commonwealth and indeed the world following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, one day before. Besides giving a moving tribute to her, Charles also named his son William as the new Prince of Wales and added: “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
One palace insider told Page Six: “It was a signal from the King that Harry is still very much a member of his loving family.”
It comes, of course, in the wake of a rocky couple of years, beginning with a reported rift between Harry and William, allegedly about the romance with Markle moving too fast. Harry and Meghan announcing they were stepping down from their royal duties and decamping to America. The queen stripping the couple of their HRH titles. A bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in which Markle, who has a black mother and a white father, accused a senior member of the family of questioning the complexion of the couple’s children. Harry telling Winfrey he felt “trapped” as a royal. Markle recently telling The Cut that her husband had “lost” his father amidst it all.
So the King’s very personal show of love was a “public olive branch,” said one Sussex source. “It was very smart and kind of Charles to include that line.”
Added a royal insider: “One speech can’t mend a family, but it’s a good start.”
Nonetheless, a Buckingham Palace insider who worked inside the gates for years, said that Charles and his team may not be as kind about Harry and Meghan’s “whims” as the Queen, who was extremely fond of the couple, was.
“There’s no way Charles’ team will be as generous in turning a cheek and not calling them out,” said the Buckingham insider. For example, after Harry told the family he and Markle wanted to be private citizens, “They weren’t supposed to be using their titles everywhere. That was not on the table.”
Although they don’t use their former HRH titles, the couple has “benefited” from the use of their names, including on deals with Spotify and Netflix, according to a Hollywood insider.
“Yes, they have benefited from the use of their names,” said the Hollywood insider. “It’s given them access to relationships and projects which they are making money out of.”
It remains to be seen whether the next week leading up to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service, said to be scheduled for Mon., Sept. 19, will help defrost the ice. But they are, even while fractured, a family united in grief.
“I know that for now, everyone in the family is grieving, they’re concentrating on that,” said another royal insider. “It can be hard to remember that this is a family that has lost a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. It’s very early still.”
Queen Elizabeth died “peacefully,” Buckingham Palace announced, at Balmoral, a place where she and her beloved husband, Prince Philip, who passed away last year, had spent so many happy days.
She passed away in the afternoon and most of her close kin — including grandsons William and Harry, sons Prince Andrew and Edward, and her daughter-in-law Sophie Wessex — arrived too late to say goodbye.
With the Queen was her heir and eldest son, Charles, and her daughter, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, who were both already in Scotland.
While the others arrived around 4 p.m., Harry did not make it until just before 8 p.m. — almost an hour and a half after Buckingham Palace announced the monarch’s death on social media and TV, sparking questions over why the brothers had travelled separately.
However, Page Six is told by one in-the-know source that “absolutely no decision was taken to exclude” Harry. The source added that the King had already asked his siblings to come up to Balmoral to see their sick mother, before her health rapidly deteriorated.
Then, early on Thursday morning, Charles is believed to have asked William to fly up and attend the Privy Council meeting in his role, as Charles would need to stand in for the ailing Queen.
At that point, it was not yet clear what the next few hours would bring.
“That’s why you didn’t see the other grandchildren as well on that flight,” said the source.
Initially Page Six was told that Harry and Markle were on their way separately, but in “coordination” with the rest of the family.
Minutes later, the story was changed: Harry would be traveling solo.
“Tensions were so high and there was no way Meghan could have gone to Balmoral,” a highly-placed palace insider told Page Six Friday.
“The fact the Sussex camp did say both Harry and Meghan were going — and then quickly retracted that statement — will tell you everything you need to know about the drama behind the scenes.”
But the changes afoot within the royal family don’t just affect the Sussexes.
In his public address Monday — recorded in the Blue Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace, where the Queen had recorded some of her Christmas messages — a glassy-eyed
Charles renewed his mother’s pledge of “lifelong service.”
He also said he would rely on his family as he takes up the role he spent more than 70 years preparing for.
“I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla,” Charles said, adding that “in recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort.”
The King also named William to be the Prince of Wales, the title he himself held before the Queen’s death.
“With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the center ground where vital help can be given,” Charles said.
Ending his speech, he said: “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
It was a reference to lyrics from John Tavener’s “Song for Athene,” which was performed at Diana’s funeral as her cortège departed from Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6, 1997.
The lyrics themselves borrowed the line from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
Diana remained Princess of Wales, albeit with the HRH, until her death. And although Kate Middleton takes on the title once worn by the most famous woman in the world, a royal source told Page Six Friday that the mom-of-three would “do things her own way, over time.”
“I think Catherine very much appreciates the past and understands the previous occupant of the title,” the royal source said.
After King Charles’ speech, Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson was asked by CBS News for his thoughts on seeing Charles walk up to Buckingham Palace with his wife Camilla — the woman who broke up Diana’s marriage.
“History is history. The royal family does like us to remember their glorious past and here and there they would like us not to remember their less glorious moments,” Jephson said.
“I think this is going to be a continuing underlying challenge for the new reign. People will look at Charles and Camilla and many of us will also remember Princess Diana. It’s ironic that Camilla was the third person in Diana’s marriage and Diana, in many respects is the third person in Charles’ reign and that’s just history.”
He added that William, as immediate heir to the throne, now possesses an “extraordinary maturity in his approach to public duties.
“Now the day has arrived when he really has to step up. In theory, he could be King tomorrow … that is the mindset that he and his advisers now have to be in … When I was working for the Prince and Princess of Wales, we knew that at any minute they could become King and Queen.”
As the royal family enter a period of mourning which will last until seven days following the Queen’s funeral, Majesty managing editor Joe Little told Page Six we should expect Charles’ coronation next summer.
And that brings up questions of what might happen to Prince Andrew’s finances, as it’s long been speculated that the Queen was funding his lifestyle.
“We do know that he is funded by money from the Queen’s Duchy of Lancaster estate but the precise details of that are shrouded in a fog of pea-soup proportions,” author David McClure previously told the UK Press Association.
But Charles, along with William, spearheaded the bid to remove his disgraced brother from public duty in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal and Andrew being sued on sexual-abuse allegations by Virginia Giuffre, which he settled in February for a sum said to be around $12 million.
“Although it would be hard to think that in some way Charles becoming king would not change his family — in theory, they have to bow and curtsy to him — I don’t think his relationships with his siblings will change,” Little said.
“Their role is to support him in whatever way they can, just like they supported their mother until Thursday.”