Strange things have happened in London this week – and they could indicate that The Firm is starting to panic about what Harry and Meghan might do next.
On Friday, the Queen appeared for the third time in as many days as she enjoyed her annual week at the Royal Palace in Edinburgh, a testament to the power of her indomitable spirit or that MI5 has concocted a miraculous elixir for her that would likely be illegal at racehorses.
Anyway, there Her Majesty, with her brightest smile and making her way through her vast collection of brooches on various ceremonial outings, was Queening as hard as she could.
It’s been a miraculous one-woman renaissance, and it would be our story today, were it not for something extraordinary happening at the same time 670km south near Buckingham Palace and Prince Charles’ Clarence House.
The first clue that something might be going on came when a senior royal aide decided, seemingly out of nowhere, to release some warm and fuzzy details about Charles’ recent meeting with his son and daughter-in-law Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their children Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1.
“It was fantastic to see them. It was great to have them back in Britain,” the Telegraph reported.
“The Prince obviously hasn’t seen his grandson Archie in a while and so it was very, very, very special to spend some time with him.
“He hadn’t met Lili, his granddaughter, so it was very emotional to meet her, something very, very beautiful.”
“What grandparent wouldn’t think it was a good day?
(Six ‘verys’ in four sentences – that must be some kind of lavish record.)
The whole story reads like the kind of frothy briefing an LA publicist would give to a supermarket newspaper, not the kind of fare that normally comes from the royal houses.
Ask yourself: When has a royal mouthpiece ever voluntarily popped before?
However, the interesting question here is not why Clarence House has become so sensitive, but why now?
It’s been nearly a month since the Sussexes stepped up the private jet and flew out of London after being humiliatingly cold-blooded by the royal family at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. In fact, the only time the couple and Charles were seen together in public, for a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s, the 73-year-old failed miserably to acknowledge the duo who were in the wasteland of low-ranking cousins. †
Clarence House, who out of the blue decided to cast Charles as a doting grandpa to the Sussex children, in fact selling him as bouncing baby Lili on his knee while turning a blind eye to Archie who, Duchy of Cornwall, crushed oatcake crumbs in his Axminster carpets , is a real puzzler.
Next comes Mystery Comment number two, from, you guessed it, a senior royal aide after this year’s Clarence House financial reports, released Friday, confirmed that Sussexes paid the entire $4.2 million in Sovereign Grant money to Frogmore. Cottage had been spent, had been repaid. “Great credit to them,” said our chatty assistant. “They said they wanted to move to financial independence and now they have.”
Last but not least, some strange things came, or actually they didn’t come out of Buckingham Palace’s mouth. Their annual report, also just out, confirmed the extraordinary decision to essentially bury the findings of the investigation into allegations that Meghan had bullied royal staffers (claims the Duchess has vehemently denied). The “policies and procedures” would also not change after the probe was revealed.
The entire chapter has been swept under the rug and, the Telegraphs report, “Both sides are hoping to draw a line under the episode.”
So how can we understand these three examples of the royal family suddenly going out of their way to play Harry and Meghan so nicely? Did senior royal aides suddenly read Deepak Chopra or did someone get a Gandhi quote-of-the-day desk calendar? Why all these sudden zen peacemakers and random Sussex love-in?
The answer may have something to do with a series of photos published this week by the Daily Mail showing Meghan, Harry and a woman who looked like their longtime friend, actor Janina Gavankar, leaving Oprah Winfrey’s $144 million estate. The photos show the trio in deep conversation and their facial expressions did not resemble those of people who had just enjoyed an hour of oat milk latte while gossiping in the summer sun.
The obvious and immediate question was: are Harry and Meghan considering a second interview with la Winfrey, less than 18 months after their first bomb drop?
Because the possibility that they might consider going on another round with the billionaire TV host, along with the fact that Harry’s memoir will be published in the coming months, suddenly casts all of this in a whole different light.
In short, they try to appease the Duke and Duchess; a strategy of appeasement via senior assistant?
What’s intriguing is the rise of the books we see. During the Jubilee, Harry and Meghan were resoundingly put in their place by the palace with only occasional concessions to their former higher status. The royals seemed determined to send a very clear message during the four-day knees at roughly where the Sussexes were now in the pecking order. That couldn’t have been an easy pill to swallow.
Fast forward just a month to today and the tables look like they could turn around, with Harry and Meghan looking like they have some pretty powerful cards in their hands.
Whether the Sussexes were in fact discussing a second interview with Oprah this week to air a new batch of grievances or whatever those photos show are just a couple of neighbors walking around borrowing a cup of organic coconut sugar, a Range Rover full of bodyguards in tow, we don’t know.
It doesn’t really matter though. Whether in the coming weeks, months or years, the possibility that Harry and Meghan feel they need to get something off their chest about his family or The Firm, that they can get it out.
This interview sword of Damocles now hangs over Windsor’s house and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, a situation they partly created themselves.
The problem is that the royal family has left the Sussexes in a position where they really have nothing to lose. They no longer receive funding from Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall, they no longer get a freebie and instead pay rent for their Windsor house, Frogmore Cottage, and all their official patronage and military roles have been taken away.
Their icy treatment at the Jubilee was proof that no one in London seemed to forgive them or will soon forgive them for their sensational departure or their decision to appear on global TV screens accusing the Palace of institutional racism and cruelty to them. to deal with.
In this context, the question for Harry and Meghan becomes: why not enjoy Oprah mark two? Why not tell the world how sad and hurt they were to be shunned by his family? How painful was it to be relegated to second-row, second-rate status during the anniversary? Why not try to use an embarrassing situation to generate some sympathy for them?
It’s not that it would be hard to portray Charles et al as a little emotionally constipated and mean in this situation.
All of these arguments apply to the reality-esque series they allegedly filmed for Netflix. Will they tiptoe around or really let go of the royal family’s feelings?
Ditto, Harry’s book. What’s to stop him from going to hell for leather and really airing out every dirty laundry he’s encountered in his 35 years as a card-carrying member of the Firm?
Some reports earlier this year have suggested there are fears he could attack his stepmother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. If so, that would just give more weight to this week’s conciliatory moves from Clarence House and Buckingham Palace, which are all about trying to neutralize some of the potential sting in Harry’s story (sorry, I can’t pun not resist.)
Still, it’s hard not to wonder if this damage control is too little too late. Feelings seem badly hurt, Harry has books to sell and the duo has a flowing giant who bleeds hundreds of billions to keep sweet.
For now, it’s just a matter of time, but with all the opportunities in the near future for the Duke and Duchess to indulge in the love of telling the truth and sharing travels, a few warm words here and there really are enough to prevent them from coming for another prime time paste?
As it stands, we may be able to see Charles appear live on Instagram singing Kumbaya with Camilla on tambourine. Desperate times call for desperate – and mushy – measures.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years experience working with some of the leading Australian media writers.
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