Her Majesty only granted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a 15-minute meeting when they were in the UK, raising questions as to what motivated them to make the trip.
The Queen might just be the world’s most famous mime. His image ranks up there with the McDonald’s arches and cross in terms of global recognition, but his voice is very rarely heard.
Instead, she watches us silently from stamps, coins, portraits in city council offices, and tea towels. She can’t talk about politics, religion or the last seasons of Come dance strictly.
But while she might have to diplomatically keep her lips zipped almost at all times, to misparaphrase Oprah Winfrey’s Sussex interview last year, she is neither silent nor silenced.
Take the fact that, according to The sun on Monday, she only granted Harry and MeganeDuke and Duchess of Sussex a “formal” meeting of 15 minutes on their recent trip to the UK, their first significant return since their bitter exit.
The combined efforts of a town crier, a paid Instagram ad campaign and a front-page interview with the Time could not have more accurately and clearly communicated his feelings about the dividing duo.
As a source told the newspaper: “It was a quick job in and out. Everything was quite formal.
I think the technical term here is, ouch.
However, this news does not only add to the list of humiliations suffered by the Sussexes but also raises a very interesting question: why did they go there?
The apparent reason for them to pack their two young children, yoga mats and beefy bodyguards on a private jet and fly 8,500km around the world was out of respect for the 96-year-old.
Harry’s profusion of respect for the Queen is a recurring line we’ve heard over the past few years.
He had “too much respect” for his grandmother to “take her by surprise,” he told Oprah during their inflammatory interview, stating at another point, “I have deep respect for her. She’s my Colonel-in-Chief, isn’t she? She always will be.
In April, when he and Meghan traveled to The Hague for the Invictus Games, they made a whirlwind visit to see his Gan Gan because he wanted to “(make sure) she is protected and has the right people around her,” a fact he quickly made American viewers aware of during an interview with the Today To display.
All this respect meant that despite the A break worthy of the Grand Canyon with his brother Prince Williamthey wanted to be there to help celebrate Her Majesty’s historic milestone.
There was also the Lilibet factor to this trip to the UK. Regardless that her nomination last year sparked further controversy, including the dismissal of legal letters over whether they had asked the Queen’s permission to co-opt her childhood nickname for their daughter, the couple wanted her grandma finally meets their granddaughter. .
Meanwhile, Her Majesty’s inclination for the Sussexes to be part of the Jubilee seemed like it could be put down to part grandmotherly affection and part pragmatism – safer to have the friendly couple for the camera on the Royal Lawn during the Jubilee than to potentially overshadow it from afar.
So the situation before the Jubilee looked like this: Harry and Meghan would bravely endure what was always going to be a Cambridges frosty reception to a) keep Her Majesty sweet and b) so they can have the touching family moment of Lilibet meeting Lilibet. (You could feel the Fleet Street headlines salivating at the thought of releasing that one.)
But on Monday Sun report on the 15-minute reunion throws that thought out the window, only further underscoring the mystery of what motivated them to put themselves through the London ringer.
That the Queen only grants them the same amount of time she would deign to grant a newly appointed ambassador is the humiliating icing on the mortifying jubilee cake for Harry and Meghan. (During their visit, they were booed by part of the crowd outside St Paullargely fled his familywho apparently wasn’t invited to a Windsor lunch at Buckingham Palace, left out the guest list for the concert at the palace and blew all the kids and grandkids out of the Windsor bar. Lilibet’s first birthday.)
The fact that they would only get a brief audience with the Queen was perhaps something they knew when they boarded their flight to the UK.
The Queen’s schedule for the four-day event would surely have been frozen weeks ago, with every minute counted and planned with military precision, especially given her health issues. ”
There is also the question of the cost of all this. It was reported last week that the cost of a private jet return flight from their home in California to the UK would have been around $279,000, meaning their brief encounter with the Queen would have would have potentially cost $18,600 per minute.
So if they knew they were only going to have “formal” and very brief one-on-one moments with Her Majesty, all with a huge travel bill, why did the Sussexes return?
A possible theory here can be explained by Paddington Bear. The Queen and the beloved children’s book character co-starred in an adorable video for the Jubileea public relations victory that a Walt Disney executive told the Daily mail was worth $350 million in “free publicity” for the owners of the Paddington franchise.
What could a photo of Lilibet and Lilibet have been worth? Not financially, but in terms of the invaluable boost it would have given the Sussex brand?
Serious improvement in the image department wouldn’t go astray right now with America’s stalled torque takeover. With the sum total of the work they produced while based in America consisting of a podcast episode and a children’s book, both of which received lackluster reviews, they barely set the fire in the world. (Harry’s mental health doco was co-produced with Winfrey and launched in 2019, so it doesn’t fall into that category in my opinion.)
Then there’s the fact that just last month it was reported that the prince and former Combinations stars are film a docuseries “at home” for their Netflix payersa report that Team Sussex and the streaming giant have not denied.
What makes them so prized by the entertainment giant is not their innovative ideas about humanitarian work, but the fact that they are a real life, living Duke and Duchess.
It is their status as members of the Queen’s family and their former place in the inner royal sanctuary that has made them such a valuable property.
But that value has only dropped since they signed their deal in 2020, given that their constant anti-Palace rhetoric has only pushed them further and further to the edge of royal orbit.
That’s where a photo of the 96-year-old Queen holding her one-year-old great-granddaughter tenderly would come in, an image that would have instantly reversed much of the Sussexes’ slide into royal irrelevance, putting herself as well as their children slap bang back in the center of the image, both literally and figuratively.
The argument can be made that all the Jubilee snubs and icing would have been worth it if it had paid serious dividends and they had come away with that invaluable PR stunt.
However, this obviously did not happen with the Sun having previously reported that the Queen had in fact ‘banned’ the duo from bringing a snapper with them to photograph his first meeting with Lilibet for fear that the plans would end up on American television.
The unknown in all of this is whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were aware of this restriction for photographers when they landed in the UK.
Which leaves us here: No big royal family rapprochement, no queen photo and no ground gained in any sense.
It is difficult to see Harry and Meghan and their children returning to the UK in the near future. The Sussexes may have recently renewed their lease on Frogmore Cottage, their Windsor home, but the chance of them setting off via private jet for a fun family getaway of sandwiches and Marmite rounds must be next to none.
And the Queen? She may have only appeared for 27 minutes in public during Jubilee, but as far as the Sussexes are concerned, her message came through loud and clear.
Daniela Elser is a royal pundit and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of top media titles in Australia.
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