DURING her reign and service, the Queen’s role was primarily that of Head of State, while the Duke of Edinburgh remained the head of the family.
But when Prince Harry and Meghan revealed on Instagram that they were stepping down from royal duties to live in America, it was a crisis that required the Queen to be both.
At a hastily convened summit at Sandringham in January 2020, their decision was swift and final; The Sussexes can leave the family business but lack the trappings that come with royalty.
The wanton couple were told there was no such thing as a ‘half in half out’ role and that they would not be able to have and eat their cake as they are wished the best of luck in their new lives.
In her statement, the Queen thanked them for their “dedicated” work and said she was “particularly proud of Meghan”.
She added: “It is the hope of my entire family that today’s agreement will allow them to start a happy and peaceful new life.”
This new beginning was anything but peaceful for the Queen. Because even though the couple had ended royal service, they remained in the family.
As a palace insider put it, “They may no longer be working members of the royal family, but they are not in exile.”
Leaving royal life and service to the Crown and State was never a consideration or decision for the Queen. She was catapulted into the line of succession when her uncle Edward VIII gave up royal service in 1936 to marry the divorced Wallis Simpson.
Seeing the impact on her father shaped the Queen’s early years, but she rose to the ranks to devote herself to a life of service.
So in the mid-90s – forced to isolate herself in Windsor Castle as Covid-19 raged – the Queen was asked time and time again to fight back and deal with this transatlantic family crisis.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been an overwhelming national sentiment that Harry and Meghan in the UK would be best served by supporting the royal family rather than firing increasingly bitter pot-shots from across the pond.
When the year-long review came, the Queen was acting as both head of state and head of family as the couple said they would not be returning.
Meghan was stripped of her patronage. Harry’s honorary military titles have been formally removed.
You were relieved as President and Vice-President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust after claiming the former empire must “right right the wrongs of the past”.
In her latest Megxit statement, the Queen stated: “Following discussions with the Duke, the Queen has confirmed in writing that it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with being in the public eye while taking a break from work the royal family retires service.
“While we are all saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain well-loved members of the family.”
The Duke of Sussex responded to the final Megxit deal – struck with Prince Philip in hospital – with a riotous retort.
Their spokesperson said: “As their work over the past year has shown, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to Britain and around the world and have offered their continued support to the organizations they represent, regardless of their official role.
“We can all live lives of service. The service is universal.”
While we’re all saddened by their decision, the Duke and Duchess remain beloved members of the family.
The Queen on the Megxit
Harry had initiated the review two months earlier because the couple wanted to tell “their truth” to Oprah Winfrey. The “tell-all” chat, which aired days after Megxit statements were exchanged, sent shockwaves around the world.
The couple have claimed there is a racist in the royal family and claimed Meghan’s mental health concerns have been ignored.
Amazingly, the Queen was not told what was planned, as palace insiders revealed “as non-working members of the royal family, they are under no obligation to inform the royal household of any such plans”.
Faced with a barrage of allegations, many of which were later found to be untrue, the Queen waited more than 38 hours to respond publicly. She ordered a private, family-led investigation into the claims, but tellingly issued these words: “Some recollections may vary.”
She kept it polite by saying the Sussexes remain “dearly loved family members”.
A source close to the Queen said: “She’s not angry, she’s just sad. They’ve always worried about him and the Queen feels very protective of him (Harry).”
Two months later, on a mental health podcast, Harry went further and blasted his upbringing by saying he wanted to “break the cycle” of pain caused by his father.
This felt like a more personal attack on the Queen, Charles and the entire royal family.
In the face of overwhelming public sympathy, after the shock and horror of the first Oprah interview and grief for her husband, she remained silent.
Just a few years earlier, the Queen had welcomed the estranged Meghan into the fold, issuing a consent form for their wedding in May 2018, saying she was “delighted for the couple.”
She was understanding
She gave Meghan a pair of pearl earrings and a necklace for her engagement and presented the couple with Frogmore Cottage.
The couple shared a tender moment as the Queen placed a blanket on Meghan’s knees on their first engagement together in Cheshire. Meghan later told Oprah, “The Queen has always been wonderful to me.”
A source said: “She understood that Harry and Meghan wanted out, but it couldn’t be to the detriment of the whole family.”
Retiring from royal life never crossed the Queen’s mind during her reign. She remembered only too well the enormous toll Edward VIII’s abdication took on her own father and the royal family.
When Edward gave up royal duty to marry American Wallis Simpson, the line of succession passed to her father.
George VI called it a “burden” as he was the second born and the remainder and should therefore never assume the crown let alone pass it on to his eldest daughter.
But he was seen as a successful war king, though he succumbed to stress and heavy smoking, dying at the age of 56 – and Princess Elizabeth becoming queen at the age of 25.
In a worldwide radio message on her 21st, she said, “I declare before you all that my whole life, long or short, will be dedicated to your service.”
The thought of abdicating or leaving royal service to enjoy life elsewhere, even resigning as head of state or head of family, was never an option she wanted or explored.
The Queen kept her word. And her service was universal to family and state.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6181920/harry-meghan-exit-queen-final-years/ How the pain of Harry and Meghan’s departure shaped the Queen’s final years