British Royal Family

OPINION: What the future holds for Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan and The Queen

After new details emerge from divisive royal biography.

By Juliet Rieden
The intense furore over the release of royal exposé Finding Freedom just over a year ago seems oh-so long ago.
The controversial biography charting the love match, private and public struggles of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by royal correspondents Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand dominated the headlines back then with its accusations of scheming machinations at court.
If you recall, Harry and Meghan were quick to distance themselves from the book even though key sources were the couple's close friends, and while we all pondered what to believe, almost as quickly as they had arrived, suddenly the revelations paled into a puff of pantomime smoke when they were dramatically topped by the couple's own explosive proclamations to Oprah Winfrey.
Who needed to listen to unnamed sources when we could hear from Harry and Meghan themselves!
Royal exposé Finding Freedom was released just over a year ago. (Getty)
So, it feels rather inadequate to be back in a world of whispering with the new release of an 'epilogue' to the paperback edition.
Nevertheless, the tabloids immediately jumped on the bandwagon, making mountains out of – forgive my mixed metaphors – what are mostly rehashed sow's ears.
In truth, the epilogue is little more than a catch-up on the cataclysmic turns of the past 12 months, and much of what is revealed in its 25 pages simply brings the reader up to speed with what has already been dissected from every possible angle by every media outlet in the world.
That said, there are a few new nuggets worth discussion.
Prince Harry, we are told, had already commissioned a wreath of poppies for the November 2020 Remembrance Day tributes in London before he stepped back from royal duties and even though he wasn't in the UK on the day, expected the wreath would still be laid at the Cenotaph.
His request was denied by "senior palace officials".
No longer being a frontline royal was the reason provided, but Harry, said a close source, "was saddened and disappointed by the decision …" claim Scobie and Durand.
Then another source reveals how in the lead-up to the Oprah interview Harry and Meghan had considered sharing the name of the royal who infamously discussed the colour of unborn Archie's skin but concluded it would be "too damaging" to the monarchy to do so.
And in a further assertion "a pal" notes that the official Buckingham Palace statement expressing sadness following the interview coupled with the line "recollections may vary" "did not go unnoticed" by Harry and Meghan, who, the source goes on, were "not surprised that full ownership was not taken".
When media jumped on this sentence, suggesting it amounted to a direct attack on The Queen by the couple, the Sussexes' lawyers sent legal notes to the publications in question once more pointing out that the couple did not collaborate with the authors for the book, its sources did not speak for them, and they would never criticise Her Majesty.
Again, it felt like so many storms in royal teacups, but there were a couple of other paragraphs in the epilogue that gave me pause.
The first discussed the miscarriage Meghan suffered in July 2020 which she courageously wrote about in an essay published in The New York Times.
Sharing her sorrow publicly was part of a healing process which also included "making sure that others were okay," write Scobie and Durand.
"It was something those close to her always knew her for doing (even checking in with the co-author of this book over issues with Internet trolls in 2020)."
It's a lovely personal aside, but got me thinking: has Meghan been talking directly to at least one of the authors of Finding Freedom after all?
The couple was photographed with son Archie by Misan Harriman before welcoming their daughter Lilibet. (Misan Harriman)
The other detail new to me was that Harry and Meghan "like any normal couple" took out a mortgage on their nine-bedroom, 7.4 acre, 18,671 sq foot luxury gated home in California.
While this may well be true, it does beg the question: why does this very affluent duo need a loan?
And that aside, the idea of Harry biting his nails waiting to hear if his mortgage application was accepted – like any "normal couple" – had me chortling over my brekkie cereal.
We got a sense of what that mortgage is paying for when Meghan announced her 40th birthday initiative in a video filmed in her uber-trendy home office.
For two minutes the Duchess chats with US actor – and friend – Melissa McCarthy about her charity endeavour.
"Because I'm turning 40, I'm asking 40 friends to donate 40 minutes of their time to help mentor a woman who is mobilising back into the workforce," the Duchess says in the video.
"Over two million women in the US alone and tens of millions around the world have lost their jobs due to COVID and I think if we all do it ... we can create a ripple effect."
The video is fun and comedic, with Meghan seated at her desk sipping tea and Melissa changing into regal garden party garb poking fun at her royal pal while wholeheartedly supporting her cause.
In a cute blooper at the end, we see Prince Harry, literally playing the court jester, juggling in the garden outside. Meghan hopes to engender a "global wave of service" with the project and the likes of Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton and Stella McCartney immediately signed up.
Meanwhile, back in the UK The Queen headed to Balmoral for her first summer alone since Prince Philip's funeral.
Joining Her Majesty not long after was second son Prince Andrew with ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York – her first invite to the Scottish castle in a long time.
Her Majesty has returned to Balmoral for the first time since Prince Philip's death. (Getty)
But only days before Andrew's arrival, Virginia Giuffre had filed a civil case in New York claiming the royal had sexually assaulted her when she was 17 and working for the late Jeffrey Epstein.
A spokeswoman for Prince Andrew said there was "no comment" on the case, which was filed under New York's Child Victims Act, but the question of what happens next has been much discussed in the media.
Whatever transpires, it seems highly unlikely that Andrew will ever return to royal duties, which has left many questioning whether he will still be able to live at his Crown Estate home, the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.
One report even suggested that the property may go to the Cambridge family, who are considering moving closer to the Queen.
Buckingham Palace offered no comment and I suspect that if there is credence to these rumours, decisions are a long way off.
The Cambridge family is said to be considering moving closer to the Queen. (Getty)
But after 18 months of COVID and family disruption Buckingham Place is happy to confirm that The Queen, 95, is back with a packed schedule of autumn engagements.
One key diary date will see Her Majesty join her eldest, Prince Charles, at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.
The event is expected to attract 120 heads of state, including US President Joe Biden, plus Pope Francis and climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.
Read more in the October Issue of The Australian Women's Weekly on sale now.

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