We’ve discussed excerpts from Robert Hardman’s latest book, Queen of Our Times, in previous weeks. Hardman’s book doesn’t seem to have any major tea, although I’m consistently curious to see the sourcing for all of these new royal books. Like, it’s clear that Tina Brown has sources within Kensington Palace and Clarence House, and they’re both leaking sh-t like crazy. But Hardman seems to be focused more on his Buckingham Palace sources, meaning the Queen’s aides. Hardman even admitted that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s exit from the UK happened because of institutional failures at every level, that it wasn’t just “Harry is bad, the Queen and her aides are perfect.” Well, Hardman recently gave an interview to the Daily Beast to promote his book, and some of these quotes are notable.
Whether the Queen was angry about the acrimonious departure of Harry and Meghan: “Anger isn’t her style. Of course she was terribly disappointed and saddened by it. But she is also very fond of Harry, she loves Harry, and there was a lot of dialogue. Her position throughout was that on an institutional level you cannot be half in and half out. It just doesn’t work. You just can’t have somebody who is royal for half a year and a half year is not. No matter how much she loved Harry, that was not going to happen. He still rings her and they chat and she is very proficient on Zoom, and she loves talking to him.”
The Queen hated their sussexroyal.com site: “There has not been a personal break there on a grandmother to grandson level. But when it came to the nuts and bolts of things like having a website called sussexroyal.com, which hadn’t been cleared with the official bodies there was nothing else she could do. These are just hard and fast rules. Harry and Meghan like to present it as the palace establishment versus poor Harry and Meghan, but you can look this stuff up, it’s not hard to find. So they did hit a fairly formidable institutional brick wall. The queen couldn’t just make an exception and allow them to set up a quasi-Royal website when they were not royal. If she did, then other people would start doing the same thing. Subsequently they put out a very peevish statement saying that while the British monarchy had no ‘jurisdiction’ over the word royal, they would go along with it. They were effectively dismissing the institution. That didn’t go down well, obviously. But she is very forgiving.”
Whether the Queen is broken up about not meeting Lilibet: “There is a tendency to extrapolate and paint onto her what we assume she ‘must’ be feeling about, for example, not having seen her granddaughter. But she has seen so much, and been through so much that she won’t be lying there at night awake wishing she could see Lilibet. What I have tried to do is stand back, look not just at the entire reign but her entire life. That’s when you appreciate all the influences and forces that have shaped the queen we see today. Just reading her father’s war diaries—I was given access to all of them for the first time—you can see what the whole family were going through. I’m sure she would love to meet Lilibet—but she would be much more likely to take the view of, ‘I’m very lucky to see so much of my other grandchildren.’ She is an upbeat person.”
Yeah, I kind of agree with him about how the Queen has maintained her relations with Harry, and how she’s probably not all that broken up about not meeting Lilibet in person. The whole “the Queen must meet her great-grandchild” thing is mostly just the British media trying to lay a guilt trip on Harry. It’s a national emotional blackmail effort, to somehow convince Harry that he “needs” to bring his children to the UK. Not so much for the Queen, but for the media, so they can write about it and have photos.
As for Hardman’s complaints about the sussexroyal.com site and all of that… man, what chaos that was. I actually understand (to this day) when the royal establishment was so peeved about the website. But long-term, I also understand why Harry and Meghan went that far, and why they tried to explain their vision for their half-in, half-out life. And ultimately, I do think that the royal establishment (especially Charles) has regrets that they couldn’t work out a deal to keep Harry and Meghan in the fold. There was a chance to make a deal and the Windsors fumbled the bag and decided to bang their heads against a wall for two-years-plus, whining about “the website.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, WENN.