This moment came seven minutes and 31 seconds after King Charles III’s first televised address as monarch.
Sitting in the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, prominently next to him was a large, framed photograph of his mother, Her Majesty the Queen, and speaking to a grieving nation, it was a speech that must have long been sitting in a drawer waiting for the inevitable. . , but no less sad moment when Great Britain entered the new Carolian age. (That’s the correct name for the period of government when a guy named Charles is in charge.)
This was his chance to make a first impression as a ruler; to stand before his people both as a grieving son and as a king who has literally waited all his life for this moment.
The first unexpected event came when Charles made his eldest son William Prince of Wales, a title that dates back to 1301. do not function in the same way and must be bestowed by the monarch. Many assumed that William’s promotion would not come until 2023, when Charles and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, were crowned.
He himself was awarded this title only at the age of nine in 1958. He reportedly learned the news while watching TV in Principal Chim’s office with his classmates.
But not Charles, who seemed intent on starting his reign with a certain verve.
What about the second development? How exactly he chose to include his other son Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in this historic moment.
In this regard, the question was what he would say about the self-exiled Sussexes, who lived in California for most of the last three years ago, made huge deals, fed their chickens and set about bombarding the palace. with criticism?
Answer: In just 19 words, Charles managed to convey a masterful phrase that will probably be discussed and analyzed for decades.
So seven and a half minutes later, the new king struck his punch, saying, “I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives abroad.”
Of course, here Charles was expressing true paternal affection for his second son and his wife, taking his time with his historic address to ensure that the Sussexes were part of the moment.
But was it really, as some claim, an attempt at reconciliation?
I’m not sure. Looking closely, the way the king handled Harry’s problem was the equivalent of freaky footwork worthy of Fred Astaire.
First, there is the problem with the Sussex titles, or lack thereof. Throughout his speech, all the other members of the family he spoke of were also referred to by their new titles. Charles spoke of his “dear wife Camilla” who is now “becoming my queen consort” and her “faithful public service”.
He then moved on to “my heir William” who “assumes the Scottish titles which mean so much to me”, who “succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall” and announces “I am proud to have made him Prince of Wales, Tyvisog Cymru” . “.
Kate then speaks with him to an audience of millions: “Our new Prince and Princess of Wales, I know, will continue to inspire and guide our national conversations, helping to bring the marginalized to the center where life-saving help can be provided. ”
However, when it was the Sussexes’ turn for their brief moments in the spotlight, he simply referred to them as “Harry and Meghan” with no title in sight.
Perhaps what is more important here is not what the 42nd monarch since the time of William the Conqueror said, but what he did not do. When the whole world was looking at him, what feelings did he choose at that moment to declare himself? Love. No pride, no respect, no reference to their work.
Of course, his words and speech showed real warmth and concern, but there was especially no mention of them having achieved anything remarkable or of the contributions they had made during their royal stay.
On the contrary, William and Kate earned Charles’ praise, calling them “inspirational” and that they “will continue…[to] guide our national conversations, helping to bring the marginalized to a central platform where vital assistance can be provided.”
If anyone had hoped that the Queen’s passing, announced at 6:30 pm London time, would be a moment of healing and rapprochement between the House of Windsor and Harry, then the events of the past 36 hours have proven to be a sobering reality check. .
Earlier that day, at 12:32 p.m., the Palace released an incredibly disturbing statement saying the Queen’s doctors were “concerned” and “advising her to remain under medical supervision”, and just over an hour later it was subsequently reported that all of her children and William raced towards Balmoral.
Their rep said that Harry and Meghan would be heading there as well, only to have it fixed and he was the only one making the dash north. (Kate also stayed.)
Around 4:00 pm, at the same time that Harry was leaving Luton in a small private jet, his brother, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, were spotted at the gates of Her Majesty’s Scottish estate.
An hour and a half later, while Harry was still in the air, news came that stunned the world. (Yes, I know she was 96 and clearly in poor health, but were any of us really ready for this big turning point? Exactly.)
There is something of a sting in the fact that despite Harry knowing he was on his way, the Palace made an announcement before he could join his family.
As former Sun royal editor Duncan Larcombe told the Daily Beast, “I suspect it was very humiliating for Harry to get off the plane and see the announcement had already been made.”
It’s the same with strange trips. Harry and Meghan’s home – Frogmore Cottage, Cambridge Adelaide Cottage and Royal Andrew’s House – are all on the Windsor estate, but the Duke made the trip entirely separately. Was he not offered a seat on their plane or did he decide not to fly with them? Both scenarios indicate that the feud between William and Harry remains particularly bad.
(Larcombe brought up another possibility, telling the Beast that the brothers “generally fly separately”, however “it’s not as strict a rule as it used to be, especially given that George, Charlotte and Louis have replaced Harry in the succession”).
After a grim Harry arrived at Balmoral at 7:52 pm (local time), he was the first to leave just 12 hours later, heading back to Aberdeen Airport to fly back to London.
At a time when the royal family is rallying together in grief, Harry has never seemed more isolated. The photos of him walking on the pavement, dressed in a black suit, with a backpack and all alone, really say it all.
What will happen next for the Duke and the royal family as a whole is completely unknown. Does his grandmother’s death mean he will shelve his forthcoming autobiography, or, with her passing, might he feel justified in deciding to go beyond the Palace, fully armed, in a book?
The same goes for the couple’s Netflix series and their podcasting efforts.
And as for Charles, now that he is king, can he do anything to close the gap so that this sad chapter is finally closed? Or, given that he is in charge, and given the increased responsibilities and prominence of the new Prince and Princess of Wales, will the Sussexes be pushed even further to the sidelines?
Charles concluded his speech with a quotation from Hamlet, saying of his mother: “May the angelic flocks sing you to your rest.” It was an incredibly touching moment, but there is also a certain sad symmetry that he chose to refer to the play about a deeply unhappy prince who is separated from his family.
Daniela Elzer is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.