Nobody puts Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in a corner. Except Queen Elizabeth.
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex land in the UK next week to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee birthday celebrations, they will be kept in the shadows over four days of events. Sources told The Post that brokers are slightly fearful the scandal-surrounded couple will steal the 96-year-old monarch’s thunder.
However, this will be easier said than done given that the Sussexes have a gift for hitting the headlines and are sure to make news by bringing their rarely-seen children, Archie, 3, and Lilibet – who will turn 1 on June 4 – with them.
It will be the first time that the queen, who is determined to make it to as many of the events as possible despite ongoing mobility issues, will meet her great-granddaughter and namesake.
The Sussexes, who quit royal life in 2020are not expected to appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace Thursday, during the Trooping the Color ceremony, which kicks off the celebrations. That lineup is intended to be working royals (and their children) only, includes Harry’s dad, Prince Charles, and older brother, Prince William.
“The first time you will really see Meghan and Harry in public during the celebrations will be at the Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, where they will be just a part of the crowd sitting in a church pew,” a highly-placed royal source told The Post.
Noted royal historian and author Hugo Vickers, who wrote a biography of the Queen Mother, told The Post: “If you think about it, this will be the last really huge time to celebrate the queen publicly and thank her. This has been an extraordinary golden age that she has presided over, and things will change dramatically at a certain point, so I think these few days will be really important. Everyone must get out and celebrate her.
“I would like to hope that it will all be focused on her – the fewer distractions there are, the better, frankly.”
And while it may seem Harry and Meghan are being slighted, it’s strictly royal business.
“As a mother and grandmother, the queen takes one view of her family – which is slightly separate from what she’s told to do as the queen,” Vickers said.
The Sussexes will be staying at their UK home, Frogmore Cottage, which is just half a mile from Windsor Castle where the queen resides. Harry’s cousin Princess Beatrice now lives at five-bedroom Frogmore with her husband, Jack Brooksbank, and their baby son, August.
Another royal insider said the close proximity to the castle will also allow the Sussexes to see the queen in private, adding, “They won’t be introducing Lili to the Queen in public, that’s for sure.”
One source who knows the Sussexes sniffed: “Believe me, they’d be fine having NO public moments during the Jubilee.” But the royal insider said the couple’s appearance will “remind the world they’re part of the show.”
Harry, 37, and Markle, 40, last saw the queen in April, secretly making a pit-stop in the UK before flying on to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games. It was the first time that Markle had been back in the UK since March 2020, when they left their royal duties and left the country. The couple also briefly spent time with Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, although they did not see William and his wife Kate Middleton.
Things are still frosty between Harry and William, who have not seen each other since last July, when they both attended the unveiling of a statue of their late mother, Princess Diana in the gardens of their childhood home at Kensington Palace.
Asked whether William – who will celebrate his 40th birthday on June 21 – Kate, 40, and their children, Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4, will get to see their cousins, the royal insider said: “It’s a good question, but I wouldn’t assume anything!”
As Page Six revealed, the Sussexes have been filming a docu-series for Netflixhowever, they will not be allowed to bring any cameras into any royal residences.
The royal insider revealed that as one of the stipulations of the Sandringham Agreement, the agreement the couple made with the queen when they quit the royal family, they are not allowed to film in any palaces.
“I highly doubt they would even think about that,” said the insider. “It would be such a bad look. Even if they could sneak a camera in, they wouldn’t be able to use any of the footage. I guess they could do home video-style on their phones, but I honestly don’t think they would. “
Palace aides have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for the Jubilee. It all starts with the Trooping the Color, a ceremony performed by uniformed regiments of the British Army to mark the monarch’s official birthday.
However, the queen, who has suffered from “episodic mobility problems” since the fall, according to staff, will not take the royal salute for the first time in 70 years. Traditionally, following the Horse Guards Parade, the monarch is greeted with a royal salute by her personal troops, the Household Division, before carrying out an inspection of the troops.
But this year, Prince Charles, Prince William and Princess Anne will take the salute in her stead and ride in the parade as colonels of the Welsh Guards, the Irish Guards and the Blues and Royals.
It comes as the queen continues to delegate more tasks to senior members of the royal family.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, saw the monarch close up at the Chelsea Flower Show on Monday, when she surprised the crowds by turning up in a state-of-the-art golf cart. He told The Post that she looked “in great form… she was very engaged and very interested in what she was being shown.”
However, as for the Trooping the Color, Little said: “In the days of old, the queen would have to get out of the carriage several times on the Horse Guards Parade. She won’t be able to do that now. If the Queen does make it, she will be in a Land Rover, and whether she will stay as long as normal, that remains to be seen. ”
Little said that Harry and Markle may watch the ceremony along with some other family members from the Major General’s Office. It will not be clear if they arrive in a car or carriage until that morning.
The event will be followed by the famous Red Arrows fly-past, which is when the working members of the royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Earlier this month, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “After careful consideration, The Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Color balcony appearance on Thursday, June 2, 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. ”
Those who are likely to appear on the balcony include Prince Charles and Camilla, Kate and William and their children, as well as Prince Edward and his family and Princess Anne and her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence.
Vickers said that cutting down the balcony appearance is “sensitive. It won’t be that mass of people where you can’t identify half of them – which always makes the general public think that the taxpayers are supporting these people, which, of course, they’re not. “
The most important moment, Vickers said, will be when the queen comes to the balcony for a photo.
“I’m sure she will if she can and I think she will by the look of it… getting out on the balcony is not that difficult and I think it’s a big photograph,” he added. “I think she’ll take part in quite a few things, she certainly wants to.”
The queen is said to want to light a beacon in front of Buckingham Palace on Thursday evening, and finds beacon pageant master Bruno Peek amusing, according to Vickers.
On Friday, a service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral to give thanks for the queen’s reign.
According to The Telegraph, palace aides are working on plans to ensure that the monarch can attend with dignity, as she will be unable to walk up the many steps at the cathedral’s main entrance. Staff are also considering how she can best travel to the service in comfort and make her way in through a side entrance without being photographed if necessary.
All of the queen’s children, grandchildren and cousins are due to attend what will be the biggest royal outing of the weekend, although the youngest family members will not take part in the church service. It’s also said to be the only appearance of Prince Andrew, who was banned from public duties and lost his HRH and military titles after being forced to agree to a multi-million dollar settlement with Jeffrey Epstein sexual-assault victim Virginia Giuffre in March.
The Epsom Derby is on Saturday, which is also baby Lilibet’s birthday. Being a known horse-racing fan – although she has no runners in the race – the queen will probably want to attend, according to Little. That would probably rule her out of attending the Party at the Palace later that evening, where performers will include Duran Duran, Diana Ross and Queen, with “Hamilton” creator Lin Manuel Miranda and Andrew Lloyd-Webber making appearances.
The Platinum Jubilee Pageant, a parade with almost 10,000 people traipsing down The Mall between Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, will conclude celebrations on Sunday, June 5. There will also be community picnic lunches across the UK.
A giant dragon puppet the size of a double decker bus will feature in the procession, as well as Corgis, acrobats, unicorns, dancers and circus acts.
The grand finale will showcase 150 “national treasures,” including Ed Sheeran singing the national anthem. There is speculation that the royal family could make another appearance on the balcony on this day.
“At the Diamond Jubilee [in 2012], there were a million people on The Mall and I suspect we will see that again. London is beginning to look very exciting with all the flags out,” Vickers said. “At the end of the pageant, I’d love to see a photo with the queen, Charles, William and George so you can see the future of the monarchy.