Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have made a secret visit to England, visiting Windsor Castle where they have met Queen Elizabeth.
It is not thought they are being accompanied by their children, Archie and Lilibet. Lilibet has not previously met the queen and there has been significant pressure on the couple to bring her to the U.K. for a meeting.
A spokesperson for the couple confirmed to The Daily Beast that they had indeed visited the queen, but said nothing about a meeting with Charles as some British media reported Thursday.
The reunion, which the spokesperson said is being made while the couple are en-route to a high-profile three-day event in the Netherlands to support the Invictus Games, the Paralympic style event for wounded service people that Harry helped found in 2014, will do much to raise hopes that Harry and Meghan will appear at this summer’s jubilee celebrations, which reach their apogee in the first week of June.
The meeting marks the first time the couple have seen the queen in person since an awkward encounter at the 2020 Commonwealth Day service, a little over two years ago. That was the last time before now that Meghan stepped foot on British soil, although Harry came home for his grandfather’s funeral in 2021.
Relations between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the Windsors have dramatically deteriorated since they left the U.K., reaching a nadir after they accused an unnamed member of the family of racism in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The couple’s presence in the U.K. became public after they were spotted walking through the Windsor estate by a busload of churchgoers who were arriving at the church inside the castle for the traditional pre-Easter Maundy Thursday service, which honours the elderly.
One told the Sun: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw who it was. We waved and they waved back. They looked happy and relaxed and waved to everyone on the bus. Charles and the queen were at Windsor Castle at the same time so they must have met them both.”
The speculation that they met Prince Charles and Camilla was fuelled by the future king and queen’s presence at Windsor, where they were officiating at the service in the queen’s place after she pulled out, apparently for health reasons.
It is not known if they have plans to meet William and Kate, and Harry’s office did not respond to that question.
The Daily Mail reported that they are believed to be staying at Frogmore Cottage, the home that was repurposed for them and given to them when they first married, which is not far from Windsor Castle.
However the Sun said that their security fears were allayed after Charles offered them the use of his homes, and security detail.
As The Daily Beast recently reported, Harry and the queen have kept in contact with regular video calls however he is not thought to have seen his grandmother in person since Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021.
The surprise appearance comes ahead of Harry and Meghan’s return to the limelight with a three day engagement in the Netherlands where are they cheering on athletes in the Invictus Games.
A narrative of reconciliation is likely to benefit both sides, with the Windsors and the Sussexes able to demonstrate they are serious about trying to rebuild or patch up broken bridges.
For Harry and Meghan, the surprise visit will allow them to keep the focus to their service work as they prepare to take on a starring role at this weekend’s Invictus Games in the Netherlands.
The event might otherwise have been overshadowed by negative comment about the failure of the couple to visit the queen, who is due to celebrate her 96th birthday on Thursday next week, when they were just a few hundred miles away.
Harry helped establish the games, a Paralympic style event for wounded ex-service people, in 2014, and has been a leading advocate and fundraiser for them ever since. He is officially the chief patron of the games.
In 2016, he persuaded his grandmother to appear in a promotional video for the bi-annual games with the Obamas.
The 2020 games were canceled owing to Covid, meaning this year’s event is the first iteration of the signature achievement of Harry’s former royal life with him in a new non-royal role.
While the narrative of tentative reconciliation will doubtless be welcome, there is still likely to be significant royal discomfort around Harry’s deeply unwelcome memoir, due to be published later this year.
Although the palace have been careful, officially, to maintain a studied insouciance about the book, which is expected to tell the inside story of the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, there is little doubt that Harry’s decision to pen a tell-all tome has inflicted significant harm on trust levels with his family of origin.
Further complicating the picture, Harry has also launched legal action against the British state, arguing that the government removal of his automatic right to police protection when he is on British soil makes it unsafe for him or his family to visit the country.
There is a perception in royal circles that at least part of Harry’s reluctance to schedule a U.K. visit up until now was that he feared he would be undermining his own argument if he were to suddenly announce that he actually was coming to the U.K. after all.
The unwillingness by team Sussex to concede on this point is believed to have been behind Harry’s still-unexplained non-appearance at his grandfather’s memorial last month.
However the fact that security issues have apparently been overcome to the point where Harry and Meghan have been able to feel comfortable calling in to Windsor will do much to boost hopes they will make an appearance during the summer’s Jubilee celebrations.
Some complications over the next few days still remain: for example there have been rumours that the couple have been cold-shouldered by the Dutch royal family, who have granted them neither a private audience nor lodgings at the royal palace in the Hague, with the couple renting rooms in a luxury hotel instead.
However the couple will reportedly be with the Dutch royals for the opening ceremony of the games, according to a report in Page Six.
Page Six adds a quote from a source saying that the couple “need a win” on the trip to the Netherlands.
A win, undoubtedly, would be good.
And scheduling a meeting to wish the revered occupant of Windsor Castle an early happy birthday is, make no mistake, a smart move when it comes to pushing forward the compassion-heavy brand of Team Sussex.