The surprise eleventh-hour reunion could be a signal of smoother times to come.
We’ll be honest: We’ve been thinking a lot about the death of Queen Elizabeth II. From when the funeral will be (it’s scheduled for Sept. 19) to who will take care of her beloved Corgis (they’re set to live with the Duke and Duchess of York), there have been a lot of questions about how the U.K. will adjust to the loss of its longest-reigning monarch. And while the public are mourning the Queen, so too are her loved ones: in his first address as King, Charles said, “I know that her death brings great sadness to so many of you and I share that sense of loss, beyond measure, with you all.” We couldn’t help but wonder what the Queen’s death would mean for her family, especially one that’s seemed increasingly fractured in recent years. A surprise show of unity on Saturday is providing a glimmer of hope that a reconciliation might be in the cards, and in particular that estranged brothers Harry and William may be able to rebuild their relationship.
On Friday, as the Queen’s children and her two grandsons rushed to her bedside amidst reports that doctors were concerned for her health, rumors started swirling that Meghan Markle was forbidden from visiting the Queen at Balmoral. (Meghan did, in fact, stay behind while Harry went to Balmoral, but so did Kate Middleton, who opted to remain in Windsor with her children.) While we may never know what truly went on behind closed doors, in his address to the nation following Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, Charles made a public gesture of goodwill to Harry and Meghan, saying, “I want to also express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
The relationship between Harry and William was reportedly fraught even before the Sussexes decided to step back from their royal duties — the couple’s decision to move further away from William and Kate’s home in Kensington Palace in 2018 spurred headlines of a rift between the two families. Then, tensions came to a head after Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah in which they dropped multiple bombshells about The Firm, including a racist comment reportedly made about Archie by one member of the royal family (who was rumored to have been Charles, but which the now-King denied). Still, in an interview with The Cut earlier this month, Meghan opened up about the possibility of reconciliation. “I think forgiveness is really important,” she said.
Perhaps in the spirit of forgiveness, Harry and Meghan joined William and Kate for a “walkabout” to greet mourners outside Windsor Castle on Saturday. The reunion of what the press had dubbed the “Fab Four” came after William invited Harry and Meghan at the last minute after discussing it with King Charles.
“The Prince of Wales thought it was an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family,” a palace spokesperson told the London Times. The Times reported that the reunion took considerable negotiation and caused the couples to be 45 minutes late for the appearance.
Saturday’s appearance was the first time William and Harry have been seen together in public since July 2021 at the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana, and the first time the Fab Four were publicly together since November 2019.
While Harry and Meghan publicly renounced their royal duties two years ago and gave up their HRH titles, it remains to be seen whether their children, Archie and Lilibet, will have royal titles. Tradition states that any grandchild of the monarch can receive one, but a list published by Buckingham Palace of those in line for the throne referred to Harry and Meghan’s children as “Master” and “Miss” rather than “Prince” and “Princess”. That said, royals don’t always choose to take a title, and it’s not clear if Harry and Meghan will want Archie and Lilibet to have one.
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan told Today that the couple will remain in the U.K. until after the Queen’s funeral on September 19.
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