Harry and Meghan Playing ‘Rival Royals’ Is Palace ‘Nightmare’: Source

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tour of Nigeria, the suggestion that they will do more such foreign tours, and Harry’s statement claiming his father King Charles III had refused to meet him have combined to reactivate the simmering feud between the two families. Relations are “as bad as they have ever been” according to one friend of the Windsors.

The Sussex tour of Nigeria, while being hailed as a tremendous success by their camp and garnering positive global headlines, has aroused suspicions and stoked fears of a “rival” royal operation disrupting careful overseas messaging by the family.

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One former royal staffer told The Daily Beast: “Overseas visits might look like jollies, but they are actually a matter of foreign policy. They are about promoting the U.K. and building diplomatic and trade alliances on behalf of the government.

“Harry and Meghan have different priorities because they are no longer working royals. But of course the vast majority of the world is ignorant of such distinctions and regard Harry and Meghan as every bit as representative of the royal family as William and Charles, so if these rival foreign tours become a regular thing, it could muddy the waters. The reason they went to Nigeria was to promote Invictus (the Paralympic-style event Harry set up)—and themselves. That’s not what royal tours are about.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, walk out after meeting the students at the Lightway Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, May 10, 2024.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, walk out after meeting the students at the Lightway Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, May 10, 2024.

Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

Of particular alarm in some quarters is the clear suggestion by the couple that the trip to Nigeria was not an isolated event and that more such sorties are being planned.

Prince Harry, for example, told People magazine: “It is hugely important for us to meet directly with people, supporting our causes and listening, in order to bring about solutions, support, and positive change. There’s only so much one can do from home and over Zoom, so we look forward to traveling more because the work matters. Whether it’s the Archewell Foundation, Invictus, or any of our other causes, there will always be reasons to meet the people at the heart of our work.”

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office was contacted for comment but did not reply to The Daily Beast.

Neither Harry's nor Charles’ offices commented to The Daily Beast, but the former staffer said, “Be in no doubt, Harry and Meghan being freelance royals is the stuff of nightmares for the Palace. It’s exactly what the late Queen Elizabeth wanted to avoid.”

The tour of Nigeria came after Harry spent a week in London, which he kicked off in confrontational style by issuing a message that seemed to throw shade on his father for refusing to meet him. The statement pointedly accused the king of having “other priorities” than meeting his son and said that Harry remained keen to try and set up a meeting in the future.

Charles’ failure to meet his son was indeed notable and dominated news feeds last week when the Palace wanted the focus on Charles’ recovery and his ongoing return to work, symbolized most vividly by his attendance at a 7,000-strong Buckingham Palace garden party, while Harry led an Invictus 10th anniversary celebration event a couple of miles away at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Charles’ camp subsequently briefed the Sunday Times that they had not received a request for a meeting, and added that Harry had been offered the use of a royal residence when in the U.K. but had not taken up the offer, staying in a London hotel instead.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 8, 2024 in London, England.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 8, 2024 in London, England.

Jordan Pettitt/Getty Images

A family friend of the royals told The Daily Beast: “Relations are as bad as they have ever been. Nothing has been resolved. But Charles does not spend a great deal of time dwelling on the matter because he is so busy.”

Asked if they believed reports this week suggesting that William was “preventing” Charles and Harry from reconciling, the friend said: “If William was prepared to reconcile with Harry it would certainly make things easier, but that’s not the whole story. The king was particularly hurt by what Harry said about Camilla.”

In his memoir Spare, Harry said Camilla “sacrificed me on her personal PR altar,” and described her as “dangerous.” In an interview to promote the book, which is estimated to have made Harry $27 million, Harry said, “With a family built on hierarchy, and with her on the way to being queen consort, there was going to be people or bodies left in the street.”

The Daily Beast reported last week that Charles is still upset by Harry’s “cruel” remarks about his wife in Spare and that this was behind his failure to meet his son.

Another source, a friend of William and Kate’s, quipped last week, “It is hardly surprising that Charles didn’t invite Harry round for tea and a scone. He did, after all, portray his wife as an evil calculating bitch [in his book].”

As The Daily Beast has frequently reported, William has no interest in renewing his relationship with his brother.

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