Prince Harry and his wife Meghan on Friday joined the royal family for their first public appearance in Britain in two years, at a Platinum Jubilee service for Queen Elizabeth II’s record-breaking 70 years on the throne.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, arrived mostly to cheers from the crowd outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
Former British Army captain Harry, 37, was dressed in a morning suit, complete with military medals, while Meghan, 40, was in an off-white dress and matching hat.
They took their seats inside among the 2,000-strong congregation, for the Church of England service, which ended with trumpet fanfares and the national anthem “God Save the Queen” plus a rare peal of the country’s biggest bell, Great Paul.
Hopes that the family would all publicly re-unite were scuppered after Harry’s grandmother the queen pulled out of the service after suffering “some discomfort” at Thursday’s kick-off to four days of celebrations.
The 96-year-old monarch said to have watched the service on television, has been dogged by difficulties standing and walking that have forced her to cancel a slew of engagements since last year.
On Thursday, she made two public appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in front of huge crowds after the Trooping the Colour military parade.
In the evening, she was at Windsor Castle for a ceremony to light beacons across the country and the Commonwealth of 54 nations that she also heads.
Her withdrawal, which the palace said she took with “great reluctance”, puts her appearance at showpiece flat-racing event The Derby at Epsom racecourse on Saturday in doubt.
The queen has only missed the Derby three times in her reign, most recently in 2020 when spectators were barred due to Covid.
– ‘Staying the course’ – The Church of England’s second highest-ranking cleric, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, in his sermon thanked the queen for “staying the course”.
“Your long reign reflects the distance of Aintree rather than the sprints of Epsom,” he said, referring to the Grand National jumps course near Liverpool.
“We are sorry that you are not here with us this morning but we are so glad you are still in the saddle and… that there is still more to come.”
Outside the domed 17th-century cathedral, royal fan Stephanie Stitt, 35, said she was “a little” disappointed the queen had withdrawn.
But the events manager added: “It’s understandable because she’s 96.”
The queen’s disgraced second son Prince Andrew, sidelined from royal duties over his links to two convicted sex offenders, also missed the service after testing positive for Covid.
The queen’s heir, future king Prince Charles, 73, was again the most senior-ranking royal. He stood in at Thursday’s parade to take the salute from troops on horseback.
The congregation included some 400 health and social care staff, invited to give thanks for their work during the Covid pandemic.
The Bible readings, prayers and hymns were designed to reflect on and recognise what the palace said was the queen’s “lifetime of service”.
The queen has received congratulations for her record-breaking reign from leaders around the world, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, US President Joe Biden and France’s Emmanuel Macron.
– Harry, Meghan unpopular – Overnight, the UK government confirmed post-Brexit plans to return the Crown symbol to pint glasses instead of the EU’s quality control mark, in what it said was a “fitting tribute” to the monarch.
It also launched a consultation to allow the sale of goods in imperial measures after EU law gave primacy to metric.
The jubilee has an end of an era feel to it, and focus is turning to the succession and the monarchy’s longer-term future.
Harry and US television actress Meghan, who is of mixed race, were once hailed as the modern face of the ancient institution after they wed in 2018.
But less than two years later they quit royal life and moved to the United States, launching a series of damaging broadsides, including of racism.
The couple have set up a charitable foundation but angered royal supporters for lifting the lid on royal life in a bombshell television interview.
A recent YouGov poll indicated nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the British public hold a negative view of them — an all-time low.
– ‘Not about them’ – “I think they should probably just stay in the background,” said surgeon Roger Nagy, 51, who flew in for the celebrations from Denver, Colorado.
“They can do what they want with their lives but they probably shouldn’t say things. This is about the queen, this isn’t about them,” he added.
All eyes will be watching for signs of tension between the couple and Harry’s elder brother William, 39, and his wife Kate, 40.
Harry said in an October 2019 that he and William were on “different paths”, apparently confirming a rift that opened up after he began dating Meghan.
The pair were last seen in public at the unveiling of a statue to their late mother princess Diana in July 2021, and at the funeral of their grandfather, the queen’s husband Prince Philip, that April.
Britain’s Prince Harry on Tuesday added to a growing portfolio of post-royal jobs, becoming “chief impact officer” at a San Francisco startup that provides mobile-based coaching, counseling, and mentorship.
Amid a highly public spat with Buckingham Palace, Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle, a mixed-race former television actress, now live in California after stepping away from royal duties.
An explosive interview they gave to Oprah Winfrey this month — in which they claimed an unnamed royal had asked how dark their baby’s skin would be — plunged the monarchy into its biggest crisis since the death of Harry’s mother, princess Diana, in 1997.
In his new role with BetterUp, the Duke of Sussex will champion the importance of maximizing human potential worldwide, according to chief executive Alexi Robichaux.
“I firmly believe that focusing on and prioritizing our mental fitness unlocks potential and opportunity that we never knew we had inside of us,” Prince Harry said in a BetterUp blog post.
“As the Royal Marine Commandos say, ‘It’s a state of mind.’ We all have it in us.”
BetterUp’s platform combines behavioral science, artificial intelligence, and human coaching to optimize personal growth and professional development, according to the company, which last month announced it had raised $125 million in funding at a valuation of $1.73 billion.
In his new job, the prince — who said he had used the BetterUp platform himself — will not manage employees or have direct reports, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Founded in 2013, BetterUp has grown to more than 270 employees and a network of some 2,000 coaches.
A list of its clients included NASA, Chevron, Mars, Genentech, Snap, and Warner Media.
Since leaving their roles as working royals, Harry and Meghan have already signed lucrative digital media deals to capitalize on their celebrity — one to produce content for Netflix, and another to present podcasts for Spotify.
They have spoken of their desire “to do something of meaning, to do something that matters,” in California, where they have launched a wide-ranging non-profit organization named Archewell.
The couple have worked with a charity to hand out meals to chronically ill people in Los Angeles, and Markle — whose mother is Black — spoke out last year after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American killed in police custody.
Demand for coaching focused on employee well-being and development has grown “significantly” in the past year, according to BetterUp.
“Self-optimization is not about fixing something that’s broken,” Prince Harry said.
“It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves, with whatever life throws at us — someone who is ready for the next challenge and can meet setbacks with courage, confidence, and self-awareness.”
Britain’s royal family has begun a fightback against racism claims made by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, indicating the couple’s comments will not go unchallenged as the country divides into partisan camps.
A keenly awaited statement from Queen Elizabeth II issued Tuesday was conciliatory towards her grandson and his mixed-race spouse, after their explosive interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey.
But it also stressed that “some recollections may vary”, as Buckingham Palace vowed to look into the couple’s assertion that an unidentified royal had asked how dark their unborn son Archie’s skin would be.
The row is being watched worldwide, in the United States where the couple now live and across the multi-racial Commonwealth, which the queen heads, dragging Britain’s most famous family further into a debate about racism and the country’s colonial past.
The UK government is refusing to get involved in the family’s biggest crisis since the very public collapse of the marriage of Harry’s parents, other than to praise Elizabeth’s stewardship of the country and the 54-nation Commonwealth.
But pointedly, Downing Street has declined to disown remarks by junior foreign minister Zac Goldsmith, a close ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who accused former army captain Harry of “blowing up his family”.
Senior minister Jacob Rees-Mogg denied there were any wider ramifications for the 94-year-old queen, who has reigned over Britain and 15 Commonwealth realms including Australia and Canada since 1952.
“She has done her duty. I think she is loved across her realms for that,” Rees-Mogg said.
“And I don’t think interviews with chat show hosts in the United States makes a great deal of difference to that.”
Constitutional expert Robert Hazell, from University College London, also said it was likely the royals would weather the storm.
“It would only become a crisis for the institution if opinion polls began to show that it had significantly reduced support for the monarchy,” he told AFP.
– 50 million viewers – However, Australia’s pro-republican former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the allegations should pave the way towards his country holding another referendum on abolishing the monarchy.
“The bottom line is that in Australia the scandals, the personalities, the dramas of the royal family are not really the issue,” he told Britain’s ITV, which aired the Winfrey interview on Monday to an audience of more than 11 million.
“The issue is that Australia’s head of state should be an Australian citizen chosen by Australians, not the king or queen of the UK.”
US network CBS, which first broadcast Winfrey’s interview on Sunday, said close to 50 million people had watched worldwide, and the figure would rise as more territories air it.
Winfrey said the racist remark did not come from either the queen or her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip, who is in hospital with a heart condition.
The queen’s statement said the charge of racism was “concerning” and would be “taken very seriously”, but added that it would be “addressed by the family privately”.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper said that in noting that people’s memories may diverge, the palace statement suggested that the person behind the remark about Archie’s skin tone may already have been identified.
It said the public were unlikely to learn more, as this was “expected to be Her Majesty’s final word on the matter”.
But The Sun newspaper said the queen was to investigate further through “private conversations” with senior royals including Harry’s father Prince Charles, her oldest son and heir, and Harry’s elder brother William.
– ‘Too little, too late’ – Former royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the 61-word statement was “the bare minimum”, at a time when the royals find themselves in an “enormous hole”.
“In my judgement, it was too little and it was too late,” he told BBC radio.
Charles has yet to comment, but on Tuesday was filmed touring a Nigerian Christian church in London whose pastors are promoting a drive to vaccinate more black people against the coronavirus.
One of Meghan’s complaints was that she had suicidal thoughts during her time in Britain, but received no support, provoking fresh debate about the royal family’s ability to connect with ordinary people.
It was later reported that she complained about former CNN host Piers Morgan’s criticism of her mental health struggles to his employers ITV, prompting him to quit as the channel’s flagship breakfast show host after refusing to apologise.
A defiant Morgan said Wednesday: “I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth.”
A YouGov poll of 4,656 people after the interview aired in Britain indicated almost a third (32 percent) felt the couple was unfairly treated — the same proportion as those who thought the opposite.
Opinions diverged along lines of party affiliation and age, mirroring the fissures that have opened up in Britain since the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
Younger people and opposition Labour supporters were more favourable to Harry and Meghan. Older respondents and Conservatives took the royal family’s side.
The White House said Monday that it took “courage” for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan to speak out in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage,” President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters.
However, Psaki stressed that the two royals are now “private citizens” and “we aren’t going to provide additional commentary from here on behalf of the president.”
“We have a strong and abiding relationship with the British people and a special partnership with the government of the United Kingdom on a range of issues and that will continue,” she said.
Harry and Meghan, officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, unloaded on the rest of the royal family in the two-hour blockbuster with Oprah on Sunday, discussing suicidal thoughts, racism, and the burden of tradition.
Meghan Markle opened up about battling suicidal thoughts, Prince Harry disclosed a painful rift with his father — and both settled a fair few scores in their history-making interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The gloves came off as the pair lifted the veil on their dramatic exit from royal life, holding little back as they alleged racism in royal ranks and a campaign of lies targeting Meghan.
But there was tenderness too as the pair spoke of their present-day happiness — and revealed the gender of their second child.
Here are key takeaways from the interview:
– ‘Didn’t want to be alive’ – Opening up on a barrage of negative media coverage she faced as part of the royal family, Meghan, 39, said the British press drove her to the point where life no longer seemed worth living.
“I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. And I… just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought,” she told Winfrey in the two-hour CBS spot.
Asked by Winfrey if she was having suicidal thoughts while pregnant with her first child, Meghan replied “Yes. This was very, very clear.”
Meghan said she approached the palace to tell them she was having a mental health crisis.
“I went to one of the most senior people just to — to get help,” she said. “I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Meghan said she ultimately reached out to one of the late Princess Diana’s best friends for support.
“Who else could understand what’s — what it’s actually like on the inside?”
‘How dark his skin might be’
Meghan, whose father is white and mother is Black, said Harry had revealed to her official concerns among the royals about the skin color of her unborn son, Archie.
“In those months when I was pregnant… we have in tandem the conversation of ‘he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title’ and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan said.
“Those were conversations the family had with him.”
Asked by Winfrey if the concern was that he might be “too brown,” Meghan replied: “If that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.”
It was sensational tabloid fodder: the story of how of Meghan made Kate Middleton cry after a bridesmaid dress fitting for Princess Charlotte.
And by Meghan’s account — it was entirely fabricated.
“Everyone in the institution knew it wasn’t true,” Meghan told Winfrey of the alleged incident, claiming that in reality: “The reverse happened.”
Kate, she said, “was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologized.”
“A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining — yes, the issue was correct — about flower girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings.”
Meghan called the incident “a turning point” in her relations with the royal family.
“The narrative about, you know, making Kate cry I think was the beginning of a real character assassination,” she said.
“And they knew it wasn’t true. And I thought, well, if they’re not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?”
“I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family,” Meghan said.
Speaking candidly about his relationship with Prince Charles, Harry said had he felt “really let down” by his father throughout the painful episode — but that they were now talking to one another.
“There’s a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like,” an emotional Harry said.
He described Charles — the heir to the throne — and Harry’s older brother William as “trapped” by the conventions of the monarchy, but vowed that he would “always love” his father.
“My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.”
Harry went on say that he and Meghan “did everything we could” to stay in the royal family.
“I’m sad that what’s happened has happened, but I know, and I’m comfortable in knowing that we did everything that we could to make it work.”
But it was not all darkness and score-settling.
Offering royal fans a treat, the couple revealed the gender of their second child, chiming in tandem “It’s a girl!” and confirming the baby was due in “summertime.”
Asked if they were “done” with two children, Harry replied: “done.”
“To have a boy and then a girl, I mean what more can you ask for?” he said.
“Two is it,” quipped Meghan.
In a bucolic segment, Harry and Meghan offered viewers a glimpse of their “fairytale” life in California’s beachside celebrity enclave of Montecito, showing off their chicken coop — and its hens rescued from a factory farm.
And Meghan wrapped up with a hopeful look to the future, saying Harry had made a decision that “saved my life.”
“And now because we’re actually on the other side, we’ve actually not just survived but are thriving.”
Asked by Winfrey if her story “does have a happy ending,” Meghan replied: “It does. Greater than any fairytale you’ve ever read.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles against one or more paparazzi whom they accuse of taking pictures of their son without permission, their lawyer told AFP.
“The couple recently learned that someone is shopping photographs of their 14-month-old son, Archie, falsely claiming to have taken them on a ‘recent’ public outing ‘in Malibu,'” the complaint, filed for invasion of privacy, said.
“But Archie has not been in public, let alone in Malibu, since the family arrived” in California, the lawsuit said, noting that the snapshots were actually taken during “activities in the backyard of the residence, unbeknownst” to the couple.
The complaint, which targets unidentified individuals, is based on a California law that prohibits taking images of anyone in their home, even from outside the property.
“No drones, helicopters or telephoto lenses can take away that right,” the couple’s lawyer, Michael J Kump, said in a statement to AFP.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are filing this lawsuit to protect their young son’s right to privacy… and to uncover and stop those who seek to profit from these illegal actions.”
Meghan and Harry quit frontline royal duties earlier this year and now live in Los Angeles, Meghan’s hometown.
The complaint accuses the paparazzi of flying helicopters and drones over the couple’s home and cutting holes in a security fence in order to obtain photographs.
The duke and duchess say they expect to be followed when they go out in public but state that “certain paparazzi and enablers have crossed a red line.”
“The plaintiffs will not allow the tabloids to break the law, especially when it involves intimidation, harassment and the addition of a very real security threat on top of what already exists,” the complaint said.
Since stepping back from the royal front lines, Harry and Meghan have waged an increasingly bitter war with the media, particularly the British tabloid press.
Harry, 35, has likened what he said was a “ruthless campaign” against his wife to the treatment of his mother, Diana, princess of Wales.
She was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in August 1997, while being pursued by paparazzi photographers.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have blacklisted four major British tabloid newspapers, accusing them of publishing stories that were “distorted, false and invasive beyond reason”, UK media reported.
In a scathing letter to the editors of the Sun, Daily Mail, Mirror and Express, the couple, who have formally stepped down as senior members of the British Royal family, said there would be “no corroboration and zero engagement” with the newspapers, the Guardian said.
“This policy is not about avoiding criticism. It’s not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting,” according to a purported copy of the letter shared by Financial Times media reporter Mark Di Stefano on Twitter.
But they did not want to be used as “currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion”.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know — as well as complete strangers — have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue,” according to an excerpt published by the Guardian.
The newspaper described the letter as an “unprecedented attack on a large part of the media”.
Harry and Meghan made a bombshell announcement in January that they wished to withdraw from frontline royal duties and become financially independent.
Their departure — dubbed “Megxit” by the British press — followed reports Meghan was unhappy with royal life and both of them had complained about media intrusion.
The couple’s hostility towards some media outlets spilled over into legal action last year, with Harry suing over alleged voicemail interception and Meghan filing a claim over a private letter to her father appearing in The Mail on Sunday after he shared it with the tabloid.
A preliminary hearing in the case is due to be held later this week.
In their message to the editors, the pair said their new policy did not apply to all media and that they would continue to work with journalists around the world.
The couple relocated to California last month and have kept a low profile, with even their location unknown amid unconfirmed reports that the pair are living in Malibu.
The decision was angrily criticised by former tabloid bosses on Monday.
Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Mirror and now a high-profile television presenter in the UK, tweeted: “Imagine thinking anyone cares about their hurt little me-me-me egos as health workers around the world are dying at work? What a pair of repulsive, deluded narcissistic tools.”
And David Yelland, a former editor of the Sun, took a similar approach claiming the timing of the announcement was in “poor taste” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I really don’t think there’s any upside for Harry and Meghan in sending this communication to the editors, it’s one of the worst pieces of communication I have ever seen,” he told BBC radio.
Queen Elizabeth II on Monday said Prince Harry and his wife Meghan would be allowed to split their time between Britain and Canada while their future is finalised.
The couple said last week they wanted to step back from the royal frontline, catching the family off guard and forcing the monarch to convene crisis talks about the pair’s future roles.
The 93-year-old queen, her son and heir Prince Charles, and his two sons princes William and Harry began a family summit at her private Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England, on Monday.
She called the discussions “very constructive” and said she and her family were “entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family”.
“Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family,” she added.
“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.
“It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.
“These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”
The queen has previously said she wanted to find “workable solutions” to the crisis, which has dominated the media since the bombshell announcement last week.
Harry and Meghan’s effective resignation has thrown up a series of questions, including how they can raise their own finances without compromising the monarchy.
Queen Elizabeth II will host a showdown meeting with Prince Harry on Monday in an attempt to solve the crisis triggered by his bombshell announcement that he and wife Meghan were stepping back from the royal frontline.
Other senior royals including Harry’s father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, with whom he has strained relations, will join the monarch at her private Sandringham estate in eastern England, according to British media.
Meghan will join the meeting via conference call from Canada as they attempt to work out the “next steps” towards a compromise and nip the growing crisis in the bud.
Issues up for debate include how much money the couple will still receive from Charles’s estate, their HRH titles and what commercial deals they can strike, according to the Sunday Times.
Harry, Meghan, and son Archie spent Christmas in Canada, with the American former actress returning there this week.
The Queen on Thursday demanded that staff work with the couple to urgently find a “workable solution” that would take into account their demands for more freedom.
Several Canadian media reported Meghan had returned to Vancouver island off the country’s Pacific coast, where the family spent the year-end holidays and where baby Archie had remained with his nanny.
Senior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday’s announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted to seek a “progressive new role” and divide their time between Britain and North America.
The Queen’s office issued a terse statement the same evening, saying there were “complicated issues that will take time to work through”.
Harry and Meghan said they intended to continue to “fully support” the queen and “collaborate” with senior royals.
They also want to keep their home on the queen’s Windsor Castle estate as their British base, while aiming to become financially independent.
But their desire to live as both members of the monarchy and private individuals making a living was described as a “toxic mix” by David McClure, an investigator into royal finances.
“The history of senior royals making money — the two is a toxic mix. It hasn’t worked well in the past,” he told the Press Association.
“How can you be half-in, half-out — half the week perform public duties and the other half earn your own income with TV, lectures, books? It is fraught with dangers.”
The younger prince, who has struggled with his role, last year revealed he has been growing apart from his brother, who as second in line to the throne is increasingly pursuing a different path.
Harry has been open about his mental health issues and he and Meghan last year admitted to struggling with the spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s birth a year later.
The couple has also lashed out at negative news coverage, some of which Harry says was racist — in light of Meghan’s biracial heritage.