Harry and Meghan’s return to the UK risks becoming the ‘focus’ of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, royal experts warned tonight – after the couple announced their comeback just minutes after it was revealed they were banned from the Buckingham Palace balcony.
A sensational statement at 3pm said the couple – as well as the Duke of York – would not be invited onto the balcony for Trooping the Colour, the spectacular start of her long weekend of celebrations. Then just 18 minutes later, the defiant Sussexes finally revealed in a tweet via their friend and journalist Omid Scobie that they will still fly in from California – with Archie, three today, and Lilibet, 11 months – for the events to mark the monarch’s 70 years on the throne that begin on June 2.
But there were warnings this evening that the couple’s mere presence back in the UK threatens to overshadow the festivities. Tom Bower told MailOnline: ‘They have been forced to accept a downgraded role – grouped with all the other VIPs – but are clearly desperate not to be excluded. If the Palace is not remarkably careful, the Sussexes will milk the celebrations for their own benefit.
‘Hopefully, the Sussexes will be kept firmly in check to avoid their selfish interests dominating the celebration of the Queen’s awe-inspiring service to Britain.’Royal author Angela Levin said the Queen had made a ‘great decision’ to restrict the balcony to working royals, adding: ‘It will have such a different positive atmosphere if there are working royals who support Her Majesty.’ On the Sussexes’ decision to attend other events she said: ‘The focus will be on them and how they behave, which the Jubilee shouldn’t be about’.
Richard Fitzwilliams, another commentator, added: ‘There was [a danger] in the run up to it if this hadn’t been settled. I expect there will be an element of this in the US coverage. ‘However though there will still be a lot of speculation about what they will attend and what they will do, this is about one person. It is the Queen’s wish that they attend.
‘Although when they planned to do the Oprah interview they didn’t know Prince Philip would be ill, they nonetheless went ahead. That won’t be forgotten. ‘But the Queen wants the family to put on a united front. A huge amount has gone on behind the scenes to achieve this.’
The 96-year-old monarch’s decisive action to only include royals carrying out official public duties, such as Harry’s father and brother, for the Buckingham Palace parade was taken by her ‘after careful consideration’ – yet there are exceptions for some of Harry’s fellow grandchildren and some of the Queen’s great-grandchildren including George, Charlotte and Louis.
A palace spokesman said: ‘The Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour 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’. But it is understood the Sussexes have been invited to other jubilee events – likely to include the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday June 3. Andrew is also expected to be there.