Queen Jubilee: Why doesn’t Meghan and Harry’s daughter Lili have a picture with Queen?
With the third day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee over and dusted off, something curious seems to be brewing with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their family.
Welcome to the royal compound, Lindsay Wallace!
The House of Windsor brought a new little player onto the scene this weekend in the form of the new girlfriend of the Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips.
They were first spotted at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the Epsom Derby (his hat was suitably giddy), then later Wallace and Phillips found themselves directly in the crosshairs of a 1001 cameras then was seated behind his uncle Prince Charles at the party at the Palace concert.
However, the most interesting, mesmerizing shot of the kneeling Queen’s Platinum Jubilee so far is the one we haven’t seen – of the 96-year-old monarch meeting her one-year-old namesake Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.
Lili, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s second child, celebrated her first birthday in the UK on Saturday with reports suggesting some sort of small family celebration was going to be held at the Sussex home in Windsor, Frogmore Cottage.
More significantly, the same day was also dedicated to Lilibet senior’s grand introduction to Lilibet junior.
Some reports suggest the meeting took place on Thursday after Trooping the Color at Buckingham Palace, but this has not been confirmed. It would also have been an illogical way of doing things – why would Harry and Meghan drag a baby for an hour in a car through central London to meet his great-grandmother when they are staying less than 10 minutes by car? each other’s car in Windsor?
The Queen, Prince Charles and William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Twitter accounts were all quick on Saturday morning UK time, all sharing warm and nearly identical birthday wishes. In all messages, the glaring absence was any kind of image.
So why Lili’s media blackout?
After all, the world got its first glimpse of Her Majesty’s 11th great-grandchild in December last year when the Sussexes released a Christmas card featuring Lili and her adorable big brother Archie, now aged three years, the shot so perfectly styled and contrived that it could have doubled as a Ralph Lauren ad.
The most obvious argument against publishing an image of Her Majesty and Lili goes like this – if the Palace had published a photo of them together, the Queen said gently cradling the bub, then it would have blown all the other Jubilee covers out of the water and out of the front pages, undermining the relentless focus they try to keep on the historic monarch and lining up King Charles III in the public imagination.
It is a logic which, for me in any case, does not really hold water. Many UK front pages on Saturday featured the Sussexes’ turn at the Queen’s Thanksgiving service held at St Paul’s, even though their lowly new status meant they were sent back to sit second rank and behind the 31st line. to the throne, the Duke of Gloucester.
No matter how long the palace will put the duo in their shoes and signal how expendable they are to the monarchy, the reality is that Harry and Meghan could have been made to sit behind a pole at the back of the church with sacks over their heads, but the mere fact that they were back in the same room as Charles and the Cambridges was always going to feature prominently in the media coverage.
It was the first time the Sussexes had come face to face with the Windsors in public since their interview with Oprah Winfrey was detonated, in which they launched allegations of institutional racism at the Palace, with the Duchess revealing that joining the ranks royals had pushed her to have suicidal thoughts.
What I mean is, by simply returning to the UK together, the very presence of Harry and Meghan was always going to be a bit of a distraction, so why not use that to Buckingham Palace’s advantage?
I think the courtiers and helpers really missed a trick here.
Imagine if we had seen this photo of the Queen and Lili – it would have been a mighty checkmate from Her Majesty in the PR chess match the Sussexes seem determined to play with the Palace.
The most obvious message would have been that the Jubilee Girl was the greatest person and no matter the sins of Lili’s prime-time parents, the Queen was and always would be a doting great-grandmother. She would have come across as forgiving and loving, quite contrary to the Royal Family’s image as ruthless, which Harry and Meghan’s claims made of them.
This photo would also have served as a dividing line under the turmoil and drama caused by the Sussexes. We want to move on.
In short, posting a snap of Queen and Lili would have represented the royal household taking control of the situation and reclaiming the narrative rather than having Harry and Meghan call the media snaps what they were.
An added benefit of our imaginary photo here is that it would also have served as an antidote to the prevailing smell of acrimony that seemed to waft over the Sussex Jubilee appearances.
So far Harry and Meghan have toed the line flexibly and shown their best behavior – there has been no public histrionics or attempt by a Netflix film crew to push their way to St Paul’s – they don’t seem to have put in much effort either.
On Thursday, after Trooping, the entire royal family, working and non-working, descended on Buckingham Palace for a slap-up lunch. (Hoping the Queen sent someone to her 38,000-bottle cellar to get a few good bottles of plonk for the occasion.) Some reports suggest Harry and Meghan didn’t go.
Likewise, Friday’s events. After the service of thanksgiving, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “refused to attend” the reception at the London Guildhall, according to the Telegraph, even though the rest of the extended cast of Windsors all rolled up. (We have Princess Anne’s son-in-law Mike Tindall to thank for sharing a cheeky and playful photo of his wife Zara and cousin Princess Eugenie looking like they’re having a good time at night. lunch.)
Ditto the concert on Saturday evening at the Palace in which the Sussexes were absent. (Yes, it was Lili’s birthday, but the explosion, featuring Alicia Keys, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Lin-Manuel Miranda among many others, started at 8 p.m., probably after the kids had gone to bed. )
The general impression is that the couple seem to be doing the bare minimum to qualify as participants in the event.
The question to ask at this point is: Could the Sussexes who keep their distance from the Royal Family outside of major official events have anything to do with Harry’s upcoming memoir and docu-series “at home? “that they are filming for Netflix? Or are things just so toxic between Charles and Diana, the Princess of Wales’ sons, that they can’t bear to be in even the vaguest vicinity of each other?
When Charles took the stage at the Palace concert, he asked the crowd of 10,000 to applaud so loudly his ‘mum’ could hear at Windsor Castle 34km away and they agreed. Even the hardest hearts and staunchest Republicans among us could not fail to be moved by such an outpouring of warmth and gratitude.
While yes, the Jubilee is essentially an elaborate marketing exercise, a chance for the Palace to bolster its support for the crown and sell the monarchy to younger generations, but it’s also about a nation giving thanks to the nonagenarian who was unwavering in her lifelong commitment to a job she never wanted.
And that’s exactly what seems to be missing from the Sussexes’ return to the UK: they don’t seem to have gotten into the Union Jack spirit of the four-day long weekend and have so far failed to get in publicly with enthusiasm in the swing of this remarkable and historic moment.
One thing Harry and Meghan have stood firm for is their respect for the Queen and yet, at a time when the whole nation of Britain and much of the world is showing their gratitude for Her Majesty, the Sussexes are gone AWOL.
Where is the enthusiasm? Where is there some sort of demonstrable display of joy on their part that she has reached such a remarkable milestone?
On Sunday, the entire Royal Family, including their children, are expected to turn out for the afternoon Jubilee Pageant which will take place along the Mall and around St James’s Park. Will Harry and Meghan make an appearance or continue to avoid optional outings that would mean closeness to William and Kate? (Surely the two couples could just keep a polite distance apart and the princes have quite the experience of plastering a happy face in public.)
During Charles’s tribute, he said of the Queen: “You keep making history.” Sadly, so did the Sussexes, and for all the wrong reasons.
Daniela Elser is a royal pundit and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of top media titles in Australia.
Originally published as Where’s the picture of Lili with the Queen?