As the third day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee wraps up, something curious seems to be happening to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their family.
Welcome to the royal court, Lindsey Wallace!
This weekend, a new player entered the House of Windsor scene in the form of a new girlfriend of the Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips.
They were first spotted at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the Epsom Derby (her hat was correspondingly dizzying), and then Wallace and Phillips were directly in the 1001 cameras’ view, and then sat behind their uncle Prince Charles at a party at the Palace Concert.
However, the most interesting photo, the most breathtaking shot from the queen’s platinum jubilee with her knees up so far is one we haven’t seen yet – that of the 96-year-old monarch meeting her one-year-old namesake, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. .
On Saturday, Lily, Harry and Meghan, the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, marked her first birthday in the UK with reports that some sort of small family party would be taking place at the Sussexes’ Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage.
Even more remarkable is that on the same day there was a big performance of Lilibet Sr. and Lilibet Jr.
Some reports said the meeting took place on the Thursday after the “Flying the Color” at Buckingham Palace, but this has not been confirmed. It would also be counter-intuitive – why would Harry and Meghan drag a child in a car for an hour to central London to meet her great-grandmother when they live less than 10 minutes away from each other in Windsor?
The Twitter accounts of the Queen, Prince Charles and William, and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge quickly went down on Saturday morning UK time, and they all shared warm and almost identical birthday wishes. All of the posts were clearly missing an image.
So, why media eclipse Lily?
After all, the world first saw Her Majesty’s 11th great-grandchild last December when the Sussex family released a Christmas card featuring Lily and her adorable older brother Archie, now three. served as an advertisement for Ralph Lauren.
The most obvious argument against publishing an image of Her Majesty and Lily is this: if the Palace released them together, say, the Queen sweetly cradling a cub, then it would blow up all the other reports about the anniversary. and beyond the front pages, thereby undermining the relentless focus they are trying to keep on the history-making monarch and building the image of King Charles III in the public imagination.
This is a rationale, which, in any case, for me does not stand up to scrutiny. Many of the front pages in the UK on Saturday featured the Sussexes in line at the Queen’s Thanksgiving service held at St Paul’s Cathedral, though their new modest status meant they were relocated to sit in the second row and behind the 31st line. to the throne of the Duke of Gloucester.
No matter how long the Palace is going to put the duo in their place and show how expendable they are to the monarchy, the reality is that Harry and Meghan could have been sitting behind a pole at the very back of the church with bags over their heads, but the fact that they were once again in the same room with Charles and the Cambridges, will always be widely covered in the media.
It was the first time both Sussexes had come face to face with the Windsors in public since the bombing, which was their interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they spoke out about institutional racism at the palace, with the Duchess revealing that joining the royal ranks drove her suicidal thoughts.
My point is that just going back to the UK together Harry and Meghan’s presence will always be something of a distraction, so why not use that to the advantage of Buckingham Palace?
I believe that the courtiers and assistants really missed the mark.
Imagine if we saw this photo of the Queen and Lily – it would be a strong checkmate from Her Majesty in a chess match that the Sussexes seem to be intent on playing with the Palace.
The most obvious message would be that Anniversary Girl was a big person, and regardless of Lily’s primetime parents’ sins, the Queen was and always will be a loving great-grandmother. She would come across as forgiving and loving, which would be very much at odds with the image of the royal family as a cold-blooded person, as presented by Harry and Meghan’s statements.
This photo would also serve as something of a line drawn under Sussex-instigated turmoil and drama. The person wants to move on.
In short, releasing a shot of the Queen and Lily would have meant that the royal house had regained control of the situation and brought back storytelling, rather than letting Harry and Meghan run the media like they used to.
The added benefit of our imaginary photo here is that it would also serve as some antidote to the prevailing bile smell that seemed to waft up to the Sussexes’ arrival at the anniversary.
So far, Harry and Meghan have complied with the rules and behaved in the best possible way – there were no public performances or attempts by the Netflix crew to break into St. Paul’s Cathedral – and they did not appear to interfere. a lot of effort.
On Thursday, after the landing, the entire royal family, working and not working, arrived at Buckingham Palace for a hearty lunch. (We hope the Queen sent someone to her cellar with 38,000 bottles to get some decent bottles of plov for the occasion.) Some reports suggest that Harry and Meghan didn’t go.
Like Friday’s events. After the thanksgiving service, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “refused to attend” a reception at London City Hall, the Telegraph reported, despite the rest of the extended Windsor troop having assembled. (We have Princess Anne’s son-in-law Mike Tindall to thank for sharing a cheeky and funny snap of his wife Zara and her cousin Princess Eugenie looking like they were having a ball during their lunch break.)
The same goes for the Saturday night concert at the Palace, which the Sussexes did not attend. (Yes, it was Lily’s birthday, but the hype, which included many other Alicia Keys, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, started at 8 p.m., after the kids had gone to bed, of course.)
The overall impression is that the couple seems to be doing the very bare minimum to qualify as attending the event.
The question to ask at this point is whether the Sussexes’ keeping their distance from the royal family outside of major official events could have anything to do with either Harry’s upcoming memoir or the ‘Homemade’ documentary series. which they film for Netflix? ? Or is the relationship between Charles and Diana, sons of the Princess of Wales, just so toxic that they can’t even be in the remotest proximity of each other?
When Charles took the stage during a concert at the palace, he asked the 10,000-strong crowd to shout so loud that his “mother” could hear at Windsor Castle 34 km away, and they agreed. Even the most stony hearts and the most ardent Republicans among us could not help but be touched by such an outpouring of warmth and gratitude.
While yes, the anniversary is essentially an elaborate marketing event, a chance for the Palace to once again bolster support for the crown and sell the monarchy to younger generations, it is also about the nation saying thank you to the ageless one who was unwavering. in her lifelong commitment to a job she never wanted.
And that’s exactly what the Sussexes seem to be missing in their return to the UK: they don’t seem to have gotten into the spirit of the four-day long weekend waving the Union Jack, and have so far failed to get into the atmosphere publicly with enthusiasm. turn of this wonderful, historic moment.
One thing that Harry and Meghan have unwaveringly upheld is their respect for the Queen, and yet at this moment when the entire nation of the UK and much of the world is expressing their gratitude to Her Majesty, the Sussexes have gone AWOL.
Where is the enthusiasm? Where is any demonstrative expression of joy on their part that she has reached such an outstanding milestone?
The entire royal family, including their children, is expected to arrive on Sunday for the daytime anniversary pageant, which will take place at the mall and around St. James Park. Will Harry and Meghan show up or will they continue to turn down any extra outings that would signify closeness to William and Kate? (Of course, the two couples could just keep a polite distance from each other, and princes have a lifetime’s experience of putting on cheerful faces in public.)
While honoring Charles, he said of the Queen: “You keep making history.” Sadly, so do the Sussexes, and for all the wrong reasons.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.