For months now there’s been speculation about whether or not Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would return to England to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. There were some security issues to be sorted out on top of the family drama but it was confirmed before the weekend that the Sussexes will indeed be in London in June for the Jubilee.
This follows Harry and Meghan’s unannounced secret meeting with the Queen a few weeks ago, prior to their trip to The Hague for the Invictus Games. Harry was asked about the meeting in subsequent interviews during the Games about whether or not he and his family would be back for Jubilee events and he was unable to confirm. Presumably some agreements were made during his visit with his grandmother and now we’re learning that he, Meghan, Archie, and Lilibet will join the rest of the family – just not on the balcony.
According to Buckingham Palace:
"After careful consideration, the Queen has decided that this year's traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance on Thursday 2nd of June will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen."
And now the conversation is all about whether or not this is considered a ban, like some sort of punishment. Like the Queen is sticking it to Harry and Meghan and blocking them from being up there on display…even though, as we learned last month when Harry was able to get facetime with her, bypassing the viper courtiers and therefore preventing any media leaks, their relationship is far from negative. You can’t just get in Her Majesty’s presence if you’re not actually someone she wants to see – and if that was actually possible and easy, well, we have bigger problems, don’t we?
And still, the fact of the matter here is that this Jubilee year has not exactly been ideal so far. Prince William and Catherine’s tour of Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas was a PR disaster. The Duke and Duchess of Wessex’s trip to the Caribbean just a few weeks later was also a mess. Prince Andrew continues to be a rot of the royal name. Enthusiasm for the Jubilee wasn’t what they had hoped it would be going into this, especially since they’ve lightened the Queen’s schedule given her age. But now, with the news that the Sussexes will be in town, well even the haters are jacked.
I mean it’s not like the British tabloids are going to ignore Harry and Meghan when they’re back. In fact, Harry and Meghan’s presence at the Jubilee, balcony or not, is almost doing them a favour – it’s coverage for them, and they will be fixated on the Sussexes, just like everybody else. Which is likely one of the factors for not having them on the balcony. Because focus on the Sussexes could eclipse everyone else and the only person who should matter that day, and this year, is the Queen. Or are we pretending that’s not true?
Having the Sussexes in England for the Jubilee maximises attention for it, since in the days leading up the events in June, they’ll be a heatscore, with everyone trying to figure out when they’ll arrive and when their children might be seen around the Queen and other family members – Lilibet will be meeting her relatives for the very first time.
Keeping them off the balcony ensures that no one else has to share the spotlight with them, including the monarch. So in a sense, the royal institution is getting the most use out of the Sussexes, benefitting from two members of the family who they’ve claimed aren’t an asset.
As for Harry and Meghan and their feelings about the balcony – the Sussexes are celebrities and as we have seen over the last few years, they understand how to use their status, they’re getting more experienced at maximising their celebrity opportunities. The balcony stage may have been denied them but the fact that they’ll be in London, as a four-piece, during those Jubilee days in and of itself is more than enough opportunity for them to flex, if they choose to. If they were invited onto the balcony, there would have been criticism about them pulling focus from the Queen on the balcony. Now that they’re not on the balcony, they’re subjected to all kinds of “ha ha ha” about not being there. And that’s the balance they’ll have to navigate next month when they arrive. How far out will they put themselves? How accessible will they be? Will they remain as lowkey as possible? Or will we see them creating their own sideshow?