King Charles likely won’t invite Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to his coronation if Harry damagingly attacks wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, in his forthcoming book, a friend of the new queen has told The Daily Beast.
“Almost everything Charles has done over the past 20 years has, in one way or another, been about getting Camilla accepted by the public,” the friend said. “He loves her. He is incredibly protective of her and he couldn’t do it without her. Even the queen finally accepted that. It is one thing for Harry to attack Charles, he can take it on the chin, but if Harry forces him to choose, by laying into Camilla in his book, I have no doubt he will choose Camilla.”
The palace declined to comment to The Daily Beast for this story. Sources in the palace say simply that the question of the guest list is on the “tbc” pile, pointedly leaving the door open for Harry and Meghan to get the call up—or be excluded.
Given that Harry has promised his still-scheduled memoir will be an “entirely honest” account of his life, it seems impossible to imagine it won’t include a blow-by-blow account of the collapse of Charles and Diana’s marriage, caused in part, as Diana herself clearly said, by Charles’ ongoing affair with Camilla.
Diana made it clear to Andrew Morton, for his book Diana, Her True Story, that she considered Camilla far from an innocent bystander, and that she was just as responsible for the continuation of the affair as Charles.
In one memorable encounter that Morton related in Diana: In Her Own Words, he said that Camilla invited Diana to lunch before her wedding and asked Diana whether she would go hunting with Charles after they were married. Diana said she wouldn’t.
“Diana later realized that Camilla saw Charles’ love of hunting as a conduit to maintaining her own relationship with him,” Morton wrote.
The Daily Beast understands that there is tremendous nervousness in Charles’ circle about what the book might reveal, not least because a full throated attack on Camilla’s character would be devastating to Charles.
While Harry has not yet rounded on Camilla in the same way as he has attacked his father—whom he has accused of cutting him off financially, not taking his phone calls and being indifferent to his suffering among many other alleged cruelties—he has notably failed to salute her elevation to queen.
Katie Nicholl, author of The New Royals and Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent told The Daily Beast: “There is no doubt that Charles would like Harry and Meghan to be at his coronation. And to be fair to Charles, he has been magnanimous in terms of extending, very publicly, olive branches to the Sussexes, not only in his televised accession address but also putting them front and center at the funeral events.
“But he does expect respect in return, and a problem is going to arise if, between now and then, Harry repays him by attacking him, Camilla or the institution. He is not going to put up with inaccurate and unfair attacks.
“The queen was ruthless when it came to protecting the institution, and Charles will be too, and we are possibly seeing that in the lack of urgency around naming Archie and Lilibet prince and princess. My understanding is that Charles is not averse to granting them titles, but he expects to see respect from the Sussexes in return.
“The ball is in the Sussexes’ court. The royals, just like the rest of us, are waiting to see what they will do next.”
The question of what the Sussexes intend to do—how deep they will dish, how painful and damaging will be the secrets they reveal in their next salvos —is the great “known unknown” preventing any true reconciliation, or a sense of arriving at a new, stable accommodation, however uneasy, between the two sides.
While the queen was alive, the ambiguity, while not helpful, was something both sides could just about live with. In one version of events, Harry and Meghan intended to publish the book and stream their films this year—and then spend next year rebuilding burned bridges.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II blew the feasibility of such a strategy completely out of the water.
But Windsor obstinacy is a powerful thing, and there has been no sign that Harry and Meghan even attempted to reconcile in any meaningful way while they were in the U.K. for the queen’s funerary rites.
Despite a handful of carefully choreographed joint events with William, Harry was said to have been infuriated by a series of perceived sleights which included being seated in the second row during the funeral in Westminster Abbey, being allowed to wear uniform during a vigil for the queen but having the queen’s EIIR cipher, signifying his role as aide-de-camp, removed, being banned from wearing uniform at other times and William’s camp briefing journalists that their joint walkabout at Windsor Castle was all William’s idea.
Duncan Larcombe, the royal author and former royal editor at the Sun, told The Daily Beast that if the Montecito-based couple were serious about making sufficient amends with the royals to secure an invite for the crowning of Camilla and Charles, a good first move would be to wish William and Kate well when they visit Boston in December to promote the Earthshot prize.
He added, “What Harry and Meghan say and do in the next few months really matters. Their actions over the next few weeks could decide not just what relations with the royals will be like for the coronation in May, but what they will be like for the rest of their lives. Everything depends on what he, in particular, says in his book, which is, by some margin, the most eagerly awaited royal book of all time and the first to be written by a family member.
“If the palace do decide not to invite Harry, one way around it is for them just to say the coronation is an institutional event, not a family event, and so it is for working royals only. While it will be an extraordinary snub for Harry if he is not invited to support his father on the biggest day of his life, it is equally hard to see how the king can invite him if the backdrop to the coronation is Harry sticking machetes in the backs of Charles and Camilla while promoting in his book.”
“Charles appears to be keeping his powder dry until he sees what they come out with,” Larcombe added. “He has not yet made Harry and Meghan’s children prince and princess, although they are entitled to those titles as a matter of law and precedent.
“That’s a carrot that could be left out there for years to come. Charles is certainly not rushing to make a declaration one way or another, and he may be taking some comfort from the reports that Harry is desperately trying to rewrite the parts of the book that are most critical about his father.”
The reality for Harry and Meghan is that everything has changed.
Sure, they need the money. But Harry must be asking himself how sustainable it is to go up against a man who is now one of the most powerful in the world, a monarch who has every lever of the vast machinery of the British state to pull at his whim.
As the coronation will make abundantly clear, they are no longer in an argument with a meddling princeling. They are in an argument with a king—and that is a very different proposition.