Prince Harry and Meghan Markle insulted the royal family at the Queen’s funeral

Made. Her Majesty the Queen left Westminster Abbey for the last time.

In its 96-year life, the abbey has witnessed some of her happiest days, such as her wedding to Prince Philip, and some of her most heartbreaking, such as the funeral of her father George VI in 1952.

The Abbey, simply put, represents the beginning and the end.

Yesterday was supposed to be like royalty.

Instead, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, sat in the second row behind King Charles and his wife Camilla, Queen Consort in what we know as Cousin Purgatory. If there were even one single soul who did not know about the expulsion and expulsion of the Sussexes from the front lines of the royal family, then the service that we have witnessed has fully paid for it.

While the Princess Royal’s son Peter Phillips (17th in line to the throne) and her daughter Zara Tindall (20th in line) plus her husband Mike took front row seats, next to the Prince and Princess of Wales Harry, now number five. in the order of succession, and Megan was humiliatingly relegated literally to the territory of the second stage.

This is an almost unimaginable blatant humiliation of the rebellious Sussexes.

Why for God’s sake, WHY?

After 10 days of mourning, 10 days of Harry and Meghan’s return to the royal family, I can only think of what a loss. What a waste of an extraordinary opportunity to build something positive out of something so sad.

Somewhere inside Buckingham Palace, if smarter, cooler or more insightful heads had taken over behind the scenes, the last 10 days could have been a watershed in the sad Sussex saga.

Call it fate, fate or old simple coincidence, but on September 8, the last day of the Queen’s life, the couple were not 8500 km away in California, but took refuge in a royal environment, at home at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate.

It seems like it was a lifetime ago (or maybe just for me), but remember: they were in the UK for a few days and will be at least one more; they booked tickets for charity events and the whole trip felt like a mock official DIY tour.

Was the purpose to support their bona fide charity? To get more content for Netflix? To replenish their royal stardust ahead of their first major commercial push? Who knows?

Bottom line: The day the story came, the Sussexes were firmly on British soil, which put them back in the middle of the biggest news story in the world and brought them back to palace life.

Even though the Sussexes were reportedly not planning on dating any of his family while they were in the UK, in no time they were forced to be in close proximity to Tout les Windsors.

What could and should have happened next is some sort of real work on behalf of the Palace here, out of both cold-blooded pragmatism and familial love, to try to kick-start even the tiniest thaw in the Sussex-Windsor Ice Age.

And yet what followed was an undignified, chaotic series of somersaults (the question of Harry in military uniform instead of morning dress), reversals (being accidentally invited, and then not invited to a grand reception at the palace), and what looks very similar to a fairly obvious PR war (the Wales team made sure that it is known which brother provoked the joint walk) from the royal family.

William and Charles may be preoccupied with their new jobs, titles and dukedoms, but as the Sussexes prepare to return to the U.S., it’s troubling to see just how pathetic the royal family has failed to capitalize on the hand that circumstances have dealt them when it comes to came to Harry and Meghan.

Yes, we all know the long list of grievances the Sussexes have voiced – accusations of racism and cruelty; accusations that they were left in tears and that their suffering was humiliatedly ignored—none of which could ever be invalidated by an awkward English hug and catching up on a piece of Battenberg cake.

But the last 10 days have been a previously unthinkable opportunity for the most tentative first steps in building bridges.

Of course, Harry’s book is still in development; Megan’s Podcast Series slice interviews have shown that she is still more than willing to heal the wounds of the past; and they still have the Netflix documentary, but it was a chance that may never come again.

Let’s ignore here who should apologize to whom; the one who was wrong. If there ever comes a moment, in a practical and emotional sense, when the Palace can bring the Sussexes back from the cold, even if only for a tiny bit, then this was it.

Instead of? The Sussexes have once again been humiliated as a global audience that may have been watched by billions.

For a monarchy that has lost Her Majesty, a source of so much public goodwill, Charles now faces the Herculean task of somehow maintaining a steady stream of crown support amid the biggest cost-of-living crisis in a generation and a post-Brexit UK increasingly feeling balanced on the verge.

If that wasn’t enough, Charles is also responsible for a family that has been coming apart at the seams in recent years. The drama of the ’90s, those years of sweet trivia about tampons and toe sucking, now seems comparatively bizarre in the face of accusations of sexual harassment, racism and cruelty.

The King, if he wants to make his reign meaningful and not a short-lived warm-up for William, a reign constantly accompanied by a gurgling series of family crises, he must put his house in order. Having his second son and daughter-in-law in his native land gave him a precious opportunity to try and do just that.

An opportunity that seemed to have been missed in a matter of days when one or two of His Royal Highnesses sat down to change the seating arrangement.

Also, at a time when public attitudes in Great Britain and throughout the Commonwealth are being redefined in terms of monarchy, Charles had a golden opportunity to define himself and his rule right outside the gates as active and peaceful.

I’m not so naive as to think that one or two kind gestures would lead Harry and Meghan to suddenly decide to retract their Oprah claims and see them sing Kumbai by the fireplace with Queen Consort Camilla.

Tablets will never be wiped clean, or everyone’s forgiveness, in any direction, will ever be on the table.

But what was certainly vaguely possible was an attempt on the part of the royal family to re-establish lines of communication or try to make some kind of connection or find common ground.

As far as we know, there was not even the most lukewarm attempt in this direction, and the royal reaction was completely absent. (As far as everyone knows, poor Harry didn’t even get the Waitrose Chocolate Delight cake thrown in a hurry by a footman on his birthday last week.)

Monarchy is meant to embody stability and reassuring constancy. Charles should have taken this moment to present himself as the new father of the family by extending some kind of hand to Harry and Meghan. It would show leadership and grace and humanize him as Britain tries to take him on as king.

Such a play could also potentially remove some of the searing heat of the Sussexes’ anger. In practice, Harry and Meghan, who are at least one percent less offended or one percent more calm, the better for the future of the monarchy and Charles.

How must Harry, a man who dearly loved his grandmother and former Commander-in-Chief, have to feel as he sits through his hour-long duty staring at the back of his father’s head? It is impossible to ignore the prevailing sour taste of pettiness in the decision to put the duke and duchess in their places.

If only today we could say that one small but good event came out of the death of the queen.

For the last time: Vivat Regina.

Daniela Elser is a writer and royal expert with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.

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