The Queen is ‘unlikely’ to see her great-granddaughter Lilibet in person, a royal expert has claimed – as Prince Harry is slammed for ‘snubbing’ the monarch after he announced on Friday that he will not be returning to the UK later this month to attend the high-profile memorial marking the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams, who has written extensively about the royal family, said it was a ‘great pity’ the monarch, 95, had not yet met the nine-month-old daughter of Prince Harry, 37, and Meghan Markle, 40, who live in California, in the flesh. So far, it is believed the Queen, who celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this year, has only met her 11th granddaughter, who is yet to travel to the UK, via video link.
A spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex on Friday confirmed he would not be leaving his Montecito mansion to attend his grandfather’s Service of Thanksgiving, which is due to be held at Westminster Abbey on March 29. Harry’s lawyers have claimed he ‘does not feel safe’ coming from across the Atlantic under the current security arrangements after he was told he would no longer be given the ‘same degree’ of personal protection when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.
But the Duke will fly to Europe for a visit to the Netherlands in mid-April for the Invictus Games, a sporting event for military veterans founded by Harry in 2014. Mr Fitzwilliams told The Sun: ‘I think this was expected because of the issue with security, obviously, he would have wanted to come if he could. I think it’s a great pity, what this means is it regrettable the rift will remain unhealed.’
Opening up about the Queen meeting her great-granddaughter, who is named after the monarch’s own family nickname Lilibet, he added: ‘It’s increasingly unlikely. If they don’t bring Lili over, then obviously that won’t happen. It’s all something that’s clearly not going to be resolved in the foreseeable future. And it doesn’t seem like they’re going to come over.’
Meanwhile, royal biographer Angela Levin has slammed the Duke as a ‘child stamping his feet’ over the decision and said the move was tantamount to ‘blackmail’, warning the Duke could use dropping out of major events at the last minute as leverage to secure personal protective security in the UK.
Levin warned that although Harry ‘has snubbed the Duke of Edinburgh but really he is snubbing the Queen’ who is still ‘grieving the loss of her husband of 73 years’ – and was only given 15 minutes advance notice of Harry’s announcement on Friday evening.
‘He has got this all wrong. If he comes over for a royal event he gets police protection. What they won’t do is, if he goes out with his friends he gets security. He’ll probably use this same excuse to try to get out of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations,’ she said.
‘It’s all about “me, me, me” rather than going out of his way for his grandmother and showing her he cares. He’s behaving like a child stamping his feet’. Shunning memorial later this month, particularly one which will honour his beloved grandfather, is likely to add further tension to his already strained relationship with his family.
The congregation will include family, friends, dignitaries and representatives of many charities and organisations with which the Duke of Edinburgh was associated. The spokesperson added the Duke – who briefly visited the UK at the unveiling of Princess Diana’s memorial last July – hopes ‘to visit the Queen as soon as possible’.
Speculation had mounted that Harry would not be in attendance after the Prince started a High Court battle over his taxpayer-funded security arrangements in the UK. The Duke launched legal proceedings after he claimed he did not ‘feel safe’ in Britain without the protection of Scotland Yard officers, who he believes offer superior protection to privately hired bodyguards.