Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Inside King Charles and Meghan Markle’s irreparable relationship

Meghan Markle ‘will do something to distract’ from King Charles’s Coronation

The Royal Household has confirmed Prince Harry will be attending the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, but his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their two children will not. A statement issued by the Palace on Wednesday read: “Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that the Duke of Sussex will attend the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey. The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.” Subsequent reports have claimed King Charles is relived his second son will be present for his crowning moment but is “very disappointed” his daughter-in-law and grandchildren have chosen to stay in the US.

A source told The Sun: “The King is happy that Harry, his son, who he calls his ‘darling boy’ will be at the Abbey. He wanted him there. It is sad, he is very disappointed that he won’t see Meghan or his grandchildren but understands the situation.”

Tensions within the House of Windsor remain, exacerbated by Harry and Meghan’s slew of royal revelations in their Netflix documentary series and the Duke’s tell-all memoir, Spare.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed intimate insight into life behind Palace walls and, among several allegations, claimed members of the Royal Family leaked and planted stories in a bid to taint the couple’s public image.

However, alongside the controversial revelations were personal anecdotes, some of which painted a picture of a more unified family within which were strong bonds.

In fact, on many occasions, Meghan described a close relationship with her father-in-law, perhaps explaining Charles’s disappointment over her absence from his upcoming Coronation.

Impressive introduction 

When Harry first started dating Hollywood actress Meghan Markle he gained the approval of his regal family members — including his father.

Recalling the important introduction in his memoir, the Duke wrote: “The conversation was easy, all four of us talking at once, but then Pa and Meg fell into a quiet chat, and I turned to Camilla…Eventually, the conversation broadened again to include everyone. We talked about acting and the arts generally.”

King Charles “had a lot of questions about Meg’s career, and he looked impressed by the way she answered,” Harry wrote. “Her confidence, her intelligence, I thought, caught him unawares.”

Charles’s passion for the arts is well-documented and, as an amateur actor, he was said to be intrigued by Meghan’s career.

Similarly, royal biographer Angela Levin told The Sun: “Prince Charles, as he was then, when he was first introduced to Meghan thought she was terrific. He did think she was a breath of fresh air and he was very happy that Prince Harry had found someone to get married to.”

Touching gesture

Harry proposed to Meghan in 2017 — just over a year after the couple went on their first date. Preparations for the royal wedding began, with plans being put in place for a spectacular ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

However, the lead-up to the nuptials saw a fair share of challenges, particularly for Meghan, whose father, Thomas Markle, became the focus of speculation and scandal.

When it became apparent that Thomas would not be travelling to the UK for his daughter’s wedding and so not walking Meghan down the aisle, Charles stepped up to the mark to support his son and future daughter-in-law.

In the Sussexes’ Netflix docuseries, which aired in December 2022, Meghan opened up about asking Charles to step into the role.

She said: “Harry’s dad is very charming and I said to him, ‘I’ve lost my dad in this.’ So he, as my father-in-law, is very important to me. So I asked him to walk me down the aisle and he said, ‘Yes.’”

A friend of the Duchess’s said Meghan had “found such a supportive and loving father in Charles, which has really changed her life for the better”.

Speaking to Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand for their 2020 biography about the Sussexes, Finding Freedom, she claimed the Duchess saw Charles not as a father-in-law, but as a “second father”.

Endearing nickname

Luckily, Meghan’s fond feelings were reciprocated. In Finding Freedom, a friend of Charles’s said the then-Prince of Wales had “taken a real shine to Meghan”.

They added: “She’s a sassy, confident beautiful American. He likes very strong, confident women. She’s bright and she’s self-aware, and I can see why they’ve struck up a very quick friendship”.

It was Meghan’s “strong” character that influenced Charles’s endearing nickname for his daughter-in-law.

According to several reports, the monarch nicknamed Meghan ‘Tungsten’, symbolising her toughness and strength.

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Royal expert Katie Nicholl discussed the nickname in her book, The New Royals, published last year. Recalling the Sussexes’ first official engagement with Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, Ms Nicholl said it was the moment Meghan’s resilience became evident.

Harry, Meghan, William and Kate appeared at the Royal Foundation Forum in 2018. “It was, according to one aide, the moment William and Kate, who was heavily pregnant, realised they needed to up their game,” Ms Nicholl wrote.

“The Cambridges (now the Prince and Princess of Wales) had already signalled their intention to be more than ‘ornamental royals’ and had, along with Harry, made a huge success of their mental health campaign Heads Together.”

She continued: “But Meghan was the breakout star of the foursome. She was polished, passionate, and funny, using all her TV-honed skills to present her case. That was a wake-up moment for William and Kate when they realised that Meghan was very impressive, very confident, and very capable, according to a source.”

A source told the Daily Mail that King Charles admired Meghan for her strength and suggested she acted as a backbone to Harry, who, he thought, needed a tungsten-type figure in his life.

Brewing tensions 

However, Charles’s relationship with the California native ultimately hit a rough patch. In the years after Meghan and Harry’s wedding, bonds became increasingly strained.

It wasn’t long before the tensions within the Royal Family became public, confirmed in January 2020 when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their decision to step down from their royal roles and move overseas.

Later, Harry and Meghan sat down for a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey and cast a negative light on the Royal Family. They revealed Charles had stopped taking Harry’s calls when he informed him about their intention to step back, and Harry said both his father and brother were “trapped” within the institution.

While Harry returned to the UK — and reunited with his family — a month later, in April 2021, for the funeral of Prince Philip, Meghan did not visit her husband’s home country until April 2022.

While relations were still strained, Harry and Meghan returned to the UK for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022. During their visit, Charles met his granddaughter Princess Lilibet for the first time.

According to reports at the time, Charles put any strife he may have had with the Sussexes aside and enjoyed what was described as an “emotional” meeting with his granddaughter and grandson, Archie.

However, in the months after the Jubilee celebrations, Meghan gave more insight into experiences within the Royal Family — through her podcast Archetypes, an interview with New York-based magazine The Cut, and a conversation with Variety magazine.

Royal expert Christopher Andersen, who authored a biography of the King last year, told Us Weekly the royals “pay attention” to the Duchess’s interviews and that he thinks Charles “feels betrayed”.

He added that Charles “walked Meghan up the last half of the aisle” at her wedding and “he really was very fond of her,” leading to him being “somewhat bewildered”.

‘Flickers of hope’ 

When Harry and Meghan returned to Europe for a series of charity events in September 2022, they supposedly had no plans to meet up with members of the Royal Family — but everything changed when Queen Elizabeth II died on the last day of their visit.

The pair cancelled their final appearance and Harry rushed to Balmoral, where the late monarch passed, to be with his family.

Early reports suggested Meghan was not welcome at such a sad time, but the Duchess later joined members of the Royal Family to mourn the loss of Her Majesty.

A source told The Telegraph Charles saw “tremendous flickers of hope” while interacting with his son and daughter-in-law during their time in the UK. And commentators pointed to his line in his first official address as King that expressed his love for Meghan and Harry “as they continue to build their lives overseas”.

PEOPLE editor-in-chief Wendy Naugle called the moment “a big olive branch”.

‘Very disappointed’

When Charles ascended the throne, Harry issued a statement expressing his grief over the loss of his grandmother and honouring his “father in his new role as King Charles III”.

Yet, months later, his and Meghan’s six-part documentary series aired on Netflix, Spare was published, and the Duke sat down for several media interviews.

All took aim at the Royal Family, with the Duke and Duchess making allegations of story-planting in the press, a toxic, competitive work environment, and ongoing discord between the Windsors.

Despite this, Harry insisted he was hopeful for a “reconciliation” with his family, provided they would be willing to sit down for an open conversation and offer an apology to his wife Meghan.

Meanwhile, the Duchess remained out of the spotlight and her future in the UK is looking ever more uncertain.

With confirmation that Meghan will not be returning for the King’s Coronation, commentary has turned to what this could mean for the Duchess.  

Express.co.uk’s Royal Editor Emily Ferguson said: “Meghan’s absence speaks volumes. Her unwillingness to sit through the two-hour service and support her in-laws on one of the most important days of their lives marks the final point in her royal journey – and there’s no way back from here.”

Charles, who is said to be “very disappointed” by the decision, will be crowned on May 6 at Westminster Abbey with his wife Camilla by his side.  

The Coronation falls on the fourth birthday of Prince Archie, who will miss out on the chance to witness the historic occasion.

Royal author Ingrid Seward said Archie is the “real loser”, telling the Mirror that the three-year-old has been “denied the opportunity”.

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