Queen Elizabeth II never gave up hope that Prince Harry would reconcile with the family and return to the royal fold, a report claimed Saturday.
However his father, King Charles, has accepted that will never happen and has consequently been more ruthless in cutting ties with Harry, especially after Harry launched a series of bitter attacks on him and his wife Camilla in his memoir, Spare.
Richard Kay, a well-connected society columnist, said in the Daily Mail that Charles’ recent moves to divest Harry of the trappings of his former life—including kicking him out of Frogmore Cottage and a recent move to erase his HRH title from the official royal family website—were in marked contrast to the queen’s reluctance to push through tangible changes to Harry’s status.
Kay claims that the queen wanted to avoid doing anything that would make it appear to Harry he was being snubbed or kicked out of the fold, with a source identified as a “close figure” telling him: “Her Majesty never stopped hoping there would be some kind of reconciliation and that the couple would return to the fold one day.”
After her death, Harry, who was playing in a charity polo match Saturday, published his memoir Spare, which portrayed Charles as weak and disloyal and explicitly accused the new queen, Camilla, of placing negative stories about him in a bid to curry favor with journalists as part of a campaign to become accepted as queen.
Kay notes that Charles has been “more decisive” saying, “many detect his hand in the adjustments carried out to the royal website,” with a source described as a “long-time adviser “ saying, “‘Even if he didn’t authorize it, he must have been aware that the changes were certain to become a talking point.”
The changes to the royal website were quietly made in recent days. Harry has had all references to his “HRH” title removed and demoted so that his and Meghan’s biographies come after those of more distant royals, such as Princess Alexandra and the Duke of Kent, his second cousins.
Meghan also saw her HRH titles excised from the official biographies, even though at the time of their departure from the royal family, it was said that the titles would not be removed but that the couple had agreed not to use them.
The news came hard on the heels of a survey which showed Prince William’s popularity at astonishing levels in the US, long thought of as Harry and Meghan’s “territory.”
Kay says it was judged the “right” moment to make the changes to the website ahead of the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death in September.
Kay says that while courtiers have “downplayed” the significance of the changes to the website, describing it as a “tidying up” exercise, he says that sources “close to the royals” “tell a different story” and speaks of the persistence of a “visceral bitterness” at the “sustained attacks that Harry and Meghan have waged against family members through his memoir and their various television interviews.”
He says that there was “resentment that elements of the Duke and Duchess’s previous lives were allowed to remain unaltered, as though they were still somehow part of ‘the Firm’.”
However The Daily Beast has been told previously that Harry and Meghan’s series of attacks on the family disgusted William and Kate in particular.
Kate, who came in for personal criticism from Harry in his book, is said to have been instrumental in making sure the killer line “recollections may vary” was included in the official response to the Oprah Winfrey interview, in which Meghan said “concerns” were raised about the color of her as-then unborn child’s skin.
Harry later claimed in an interview to support his book that neither he nor Meghan had accused the family of racism and that claims he had done so were fabricated by the press.
A friend of Kate and William’s told The Daily Beast after the Netflix show was released: “It’s hard to imagine how devastating the last three years have been for William. The brothers were so close, they had such an incredible bond. It’s impossible really to express what a massive, terrible, ongoing headache this has been for William in the past few years.
“The family blames Meghan for it all, really. They absolutely fucking hate her, basically. It’s a huge disaster.
“Growing up, the brothers were so close. Harry would do anything to be with William. They lost their mum, and their dad was really disengaged, so they had this incredible, incredible bond. Everyone knew it.
“And then Meghan came along. Everyone warned him off her but he wouldn’t listen, and she just ripped him away. The bond is gone, completely gone and this film is just the latest betrayal. William really, really, really hates both of them now.
“It’s really toxic and destructive for all of them. At the end of the day, they are a family, and their whole family life has been ruined by Meghan. You can’t imagine how bad it really is.”
In that context it is perhaps unsurprising that Charles appears ready to depart from the late queen’s softly-softly approach when it comes to dealing with Harry.
The renewed focus on bad blood in the family will be unwelcome to Harry who has spent recent days trying to shift the narrative to a focus on charitable work. On Saturday, he played in a charity polo match in Singapore which raised $1m for charity.
At the event, Harry recalled the legacy of his late mother, Princess Diana, saying he and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho founded the charity Sentebale “in honour of our late mothers… to ensure all children and young people in southern Africa are empowered, healthy and able to pursue their ambitions and dreams.”