As we discussed yesterday, there was some weirdness when it came to the arrivals and seating at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day. If I’m being 100% honest, I don’t completely understand the change that was made last minute, but I think the final result was that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not placed towards the entrance for a formal greeting with the Queen, which is what happened last year. Instead, they were ushered to their seats, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge not far behind. The programs for the Commonwealth Day service had already been printed, so this was a significant change. I theorized that Harry and Meghan asked for the change because they didn’t want to pose for photos with William and Kate. But… according to Becky English at the Daily Mail, the choice to change this *thing* came from the Queen’s office. And of course, it’s framed as Harry and Meghan being “emotional,” which is apparently the greatest sin in England.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s last engagement as senior royals was marred by behind-the-scenes tensions over protocol. It had been agreed that Harry and Meghan’s attendance at yesterday’s Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey with other senior royals would be a fitting farewell. But the Daily Mail understands the couple were upset to learn that they would not be permitted to join the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the main VIP party.
Instead they were told they would have to make their own way to their seats at the front of the abbey before the arrival of other senior royals, alongside the Earl and the Countess of Wessex. Fearing another highly public royal skirmish, William and Kate, it can be revealed, stepped in to defuse the situation at the weekend and offered to join ‘emotional’ Harry and Meghan as they waited in their seats for the Queen, Charles and Camilla to arrive. But not before 2,000 orders of service had been signed off and printed which very clearly – and rather embarrassingly – placed the Cambridges firmly as entering with the main royal party. And it seems that their 11th-hour olive branch did not ease the ill-feeling between the feuding family.
Buckingham Palace last night attempted to put on a brave face, insisting there was ‘no set format for this annual service’ as it ‘depended on how many Members of the Royal Family are in attendance’. The Queen and senior royals are always the last to arrive and take part in a procession down to the front of the Abbey. But the palace notably failed to address the issue of why the Cambridges were originally down in the official Order of Service to accompany the Queen, before changing their minds to take their seats ahead of the Queen’s arrival, alongside the Sussexes.
The decision not to include the Sussexes was made by the Queen’s office directly, led by her private secretary Edward Young. Harry and Meghan were understood to be particularly hurt as although it was to be their last public engagement, they will not formally step down until March 31. Until then Harry still retains the title, given to him by the Queen, of Commonwealth Youth Ambassador – of which he has been stripped along with his other official duties, as part of his royal stand-down.
He and Meghan will also retain strong links with the ‘family of nations’ because they will keep their roles as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. The duchess will also retain her patronage of the Association of Commonwealth Universities which she took on last year.
‘It seems that they were quite sensitive and emotional about it,’ said one royal source. Another insider added: ‘Although they are adamant about wanting to step down, they seem quite preoccupied with what status they will retain and the fact that Harry remains sixth in line to the throne, as they made a point of saying on their new website the other day.’
This, to me, reeks of a leak not from Buckingham Palace, but from Kensington Palace. The way this is framed as the Cambridges being diplomatic and saving the day from “emotional, status-obsessed” Harry and Meghan, plus the added dash of William throwing his grandmother under the bus for HER pettiness. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe the Queen is that f–king petty, that she would order Harry and Meghan’s attendance at the Commonwealth service just to treat them like sh-t one last time before they leave. But the Keen-specific spin on this version of events is uh, obvious, and I think there’s probably more to the story.
Photos courtesy of WENN.