ROYALS

The Queen (Sort of) Welcomes Harry and Meghan Back to Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry
Photo by Chris Jackson via Getty Images

The culmination of the months-long events celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne is becoming less and less about the monarch and more and more about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. As the Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend set for a month from now approaches, speculation has been rife about whether or not they would reunite with the royal family for the first time since “Megxit.” The couple has been slowly but surely patching things up with the monarchy on the sly, and evidently, they’ve done enough damage control since excoriating “The Firm” to be welcomed back in to the Queen’s inner circle. On Friday, a spokesperson confirmed that Harry and Meghan are “excited and honored” to cross the pond with their two children to join in on the festivities. And that same morning, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed that there was a catch: The Queen’s invitation does not extend to the Trooping the Colour, meaning you won’t be seeing Meghan and Harry standing next to the birthday girl on the palace’s balcony on June 2.

So, what’s the big deal about one event on a balcony when there’s a whole long weekend of other royal functions? As with so many things related to the monarchy, it all goes back to symbolism and tradition. It was way back in the 1850s when Queen Victoria realized the storied terrace’s potential as a portal between the royals and the public, and since then, each and every appearance on the balcony has made for an event. There’s no fixed guest list for the annual Trooping the Colour, meaning the Queen could have invited Harry and Meghan into her carefully curated crew. (Particularly seeing as she’s getting up there in years, meaning it may be one of the last she ever assembles.) Instead, the 96-year-old monarch is sticking solely with “members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen,” making Harry and Meghan ineligible.

The crew invited to join Queen Elizabeth II on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour in 2019.

Photo by Chris Jackson via Getty Images

If it makes them feel any better, Harry and Meghan aren’t the only ones being iced out. By placing a working-royals-only limit on the balcony, the Queen has also barred Prince Andrew, whose ties to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and since-settled sexual assault lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre have made for more serious headache for the royals than “Megxit.” (He was forced to relinquish his royal patronages and military titles earlier this year.) It’s unclear if Andrew will be making any appearances throughout the weekend, but rest assured that even if he does, all eyes will be on Harry and Meghan at the many non-Trooping the Colour festivities. The same goes for their rarely seen daughter Lilibet, who is set to meet her namesake, the Queen, for the very first time.

It seems entirely possible that the balcony ban was simply the easiest way to keep Andrew at bay without singling him out. In fact, after Harry paid the Queen a surprise visit earlier this month, it was reported that she had requested that he and Meghan join her for Trooping the Colour. Charles was also present at the grandmom-grandson reunion, suggesting he’s warming up to his son. And on Friday, he joined Prince William and Kate Middleton in wishing his grandson, Archie, a happy birthday on social media. If those whom Harry and Meghan have slighted still harbor any hard feelings, it looks like they know how to play nice.