When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made the brave decision to step back from the British royal family, there may have been one person whose reaction they feared more than most: Queen Elizabeth II, known to Harry as his beloved grandmother. While Meghan herself had established a friendly relationship with the Queen to the best of anyone’s knowledge, it was one thing for the monarch to welcome the new American royal and quite another for that monarch to continue her approval in wake of their exit — as she famously did not when it came to the late Princess Diana. SheKnows talked exclusively with Robert Lacey, author of Battle of Brothers: William and Harry — The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, about why the Queen hasn’t turned a cold shoulder to Meghan Markle after her exit as she did with Diana — and the answers may surprise you.
Those who follow the British Royal Family will know there was no lost love between the Queen and Diana by the time the latter bid the royal life adieu. At the time of Diana’s tragic death, author Lacey notes that the Queen’s concern was primarily for her grandsons, writing that she and husband Prince Philip “had long ceased being fans of their ex-daughter-in-law.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 20, 2020
But Lacey credits the Queen’s ability to lend a more giving hand when it comes to Megxit to two factors: first, her forward-thinking nature as a monarch. Meghan may have stern words for how the royal family conducts itself, but she may still be their best shot for moving into the 21st century.
“There’s a political sense…in which the queen welcomed her as a first mixed race recruit to the royal family,” Lacey tells SheKnows of Meghan’s marriage to Harry. “And so it must be distressing for the queen that 30 months later, this mixed race recruit and her mixed race son Archie are no longer classed as royal. They’ve been suspended from the royal family.”
“If everybody welcomed Meghan as a sign of the royal family’s contact with Black Lives Matter and racial progress and harmony in this country, what does it mean when they’re separate from the royal family?” Lacey adds.
So, the Queen seemingly recognizes that an all-white royal family does not represent her commonwealth, and is eager to see a family who does — something we certainly wouldn’t have taken for granted as fact. But the Queen’s other reason for holding close to Meghan has everything to do with her (one, tiny) weakness as a loving grandmother.
This adorable new photo of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry is the first since they stepped down as senior royals. https://t.co/koFMCEUhaV
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 19, 2020
“There’s a sense in which the queen is closer emotionally to William and Harry than she is to her own sons,” Lacey tells SheKnows. “Whenever she’s been with Meghan, she’s exhibiting the most cordial, outgoing affection for her. We know that’s what she feels for Harry. We can presume that she will welcome anybody who makes her grandson happy.”
After Harry and Meghan announced their royal exit, the Queen invited her grandson to a private lunch shortly thereafter, and assured him that they would be welcome back any time they wanted to come. We can be sure no such invitation was extended to Diana, circumstances differing as they did. But it’s worth noting that even the head of the royal family recognizes Meghan Markle’s value to such a degree that she’s unwilling to ice her out for disrupting the royal order.
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