The Daily Telegraph

Harry and Meghan risk losing America if they resume habit of royal over-sharing

The couple can no longer afford to attack the Royal family in a country that revered the late Queen and shares The Firm’s grief

- Camilla Tominey

The last thing Charles needs is for the start of his reign to be overshadow­ed by the ongoing acrimony of his sons

Can they afford to attack an institutio­n in mourning, when sympathy for the Royal family is at a historic high?

Where do the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex go from here? This evening, Princes William and Harry will be reunited in sorrow – and in uniform – for the grandchild­ren’s vigil beside Queen Elizabeth II’S coffin in Westminste­r Hall. The brothers will stand at the head and the foot of the catafalque, joining their cousins Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn to pay their respects to their beloved “Grannie”.

Despite Harry and his wife’s decision to step back from royal life in January 2020, the late Queen always insisted that they remained “much-loved members of the family”.

Even after the Sussexes’ interview with Oprah Winfrey 18 months ago, the late monarch was typically magnanimou­s, saying that “recollecti­ons may vary” about the couple’s experience­s of life inside The Firm.

Yet can the truce that has been struck between her once inseparabl­e grandsons lead to lasting peace?

Charles III certainly hopes so. The last thing he needs is for the start of his reign to be overshadow­ed by the ongoing acrimony between his sons. That is why he offered an olive branch to the Sussexes in his first address as sovereign by expressing his “love for Harry and Meghan, as they continue to build their lives overseas”.

Some have interprete­d this as the King, 73, putting the couple firmly in their geographic­al place, with no way back into the royal fold – but as a former aide pointed out: “It’s simply not the King’s style to do anything that would alienate either of his children. He loves them both deeply and has been devastated by everything that has happened.” Allowing the Duke of Sussex to wear his Blues and Royals uniform at this evening’s event is evidence of his desire to “bring Harry back in” despite the family’s fears over his forthcomin­g memoirs.

As “non-working” royals, the couple could have been cast in a backseat role during this week’s events and yet, on the King’s say-so, they took part in Wednesday’s royal procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminste­r Hall and will play a similarly prominent part in Monday’s final farewell at Westminste­r Abbey and St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

The Prince of Wales has also rightly won plaudits for putting his difference­s with his brother and sister-in-law aside to invite them to join him and Kate at last Saturday’s walkabout outside Windsor Castle.

Although it was an eleventh hour offer for the Sussexes to carry out the meet and greet on the Long Walk – the 45-minute delay caused not by strained negotiatio­ns but Harry and Meghan’s need to change into mourning dress – it was a genuine reflection of William’s desire to ensure their late grandmothe­r’s memory was unsullied by talk of recriminat­ion.

Come the end of Monday, Harry and Meghan are expected to make a swift departure back to their £11million mansion in Montecito, California, to be reunited with their children Archie, three, and one-year-old Lilibet, after more than a fortnight apart.

In their own placatory way – and clearly sensing the public mood both in the UK and the US, where the late Queen was revered – they chose not to make a fuss about Harry originally being told that he could not wear his uniform – and have reportedly delayed

‘Harry and Meghan only seem to be able to gain publicity for their salvos against the royals. Once that stops, what have they got left?’

‘It’s hard to spend time with someone when you know they’re writing a book about you and giving interviews’

publicatio­n of the autobiogra­phy. Meghan has also shelved her Archetypes podcast for six weeks and cancelled a planned appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

It is thought Meghan also requested the postponeme­nt of her appearance on the cover of Variety for its forthcomin­g “Power of Women” issue.

But will it be enough to persuade a public that has grown weary of their brand of royal over-sharing? And can they afford to carry on attacking an institutio­n in mourning, when sympathy for the Royal family is at a historic high?

As Martin Townsend, former editor of the Sunday Express and partner at public relations firm Pagefield, says: “They didn’t feel they had to defer to the former Prince of Wales because he was Harry’s father and they had the late Queen there as a buffer. They felt they could get away with any criticism they wanted to make because they weren’t criticisin­g Queen Elizabeth, who was by far the most popular member of the Royal family and beyond reproach in most people’s eyes.

“But now that buffer is gone. Charles is the King and therefore automatica­lly commands much more support than he used to. That support has only increased because of the remarkable way he has led a nation in mourning. So if Harry and Meghan choose to attack all that now, they are going to look completely out of step.

“The trouble for the couple, however, is that they only seem to be able to gain publicity for their salvos against the royals. Once that stops, what have they got left?”

Their closeness to an epic event that has gripped the world may well help to revive their flagging brand in America, but it doesn’t support their schtick as outsiders who “just by existing upset the hierarchy”. Far from treating them as outcasts, the so-called men in grey suits have given them a ring-seat seat. Since Harry has been afforded every courtesy as the King’s son, it behoves him to behave courteousl­y back.

There is a glaring irony that both the King and the Prince of Wales share many of the values Harry and Meghan claim to espouse: environmen­talism, better mental health, diversity of thought and faith. The Queen Consort is a great defender of women facing violence – in tune with Meghan’s self-styled status as a leading feminist.

So if the couple now revert to being overly critical of their nearest and dearest, they are going to look even more out-of-touch and bitter than they do already. Little wonder, then, that there has even been talk of the book, ghost-written by Pulitzer Prizewinni­ng author JR Moehringer being canned altogether – although having already been submitted and approved by lawyers, that seems unlikely.

The pressure is also on the Prince of Wales – still seething over the way he and Kate have been treated – to seize the moment. If there was ever an opportunit­y for reconcilia­tion then this week surely presents it.

Yet it seems William and Kate are unable to move on until Harry and Meghan at least “acknowledg­e” the hurt they have caused. As one source close to the couple says: “They feel that Oprah crossed a line and that someone should acknowledg­e the motives behind it and the pain it caused. They feel they’ve had to be steely to send a message that you cannot just say this hugely upsetting stuff without there being consequenc­es.” The awkward scenes at Windsor reflect the fact that there has so far been no great heart-toheart to strip away tensions that have simmered since the interview with Oprah was broadcast in March last year. Yet as another insider put it: “It’s really hard to spend time with someone, or even to speak openly, when you know they’re writing a book about you and giving interviews. The trust is gone right now.”

For trust to be restored, William and Harry are going to have to move in the same direction. They might be minded to remember their late grandmothe­r’s wise words from her Christmas broadcast in 2014: “It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow. Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves.”

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