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The queen has always had a soft spot for Prince Harry. Much like her favorite child, Prince Andrew, who, much to Charles’s irritation, has always been given a free pass despite embroiling the royals in some of their more embarrassing scandals (Jeffrey Epstein, anyone?) over the years, Harry has also never been seriously disciplined by his grandmother, despite the occasional outbursts of idiocy that marked his youth.
The queen makes allowances for Harry because she knows how hard Harry has had it since his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a Paris tunnel.
For that reason, the queen was swift to give her blessing to Harry when he decided to marry a divorced American actress. And although Meghan Markle has struggled to establish a good relationship with William and Kate, the absolute opposite applies to her connection with the queen and Prince Charles, who are said to be impressed and delighted by the new arrival in their midst.
Kate, by contrast, has sought to distance her family from Charles’ influence, to the extent that Charles has reportedly complained to friends that he has no input in his grandchildren’s lives.
But with Meghan, it’s a different story. The British news magazine Private Eye even went so far as to claim in its recent print edition that Meghan was being credited by some palace insiders with healing the rift between Harry and Charles, who have endured a strained relationship (at times) since the death of his mother.
The magazine also claimed that Meghan was being granted regular private face time with Her Majesty herself.
The palace declined to comment to The Daily Beast on these stories, but there seems little reason to disbelieve the reports, especially as the palace was quick to publicize, last summer, one of the more remarkable gestures made by the queen to a new royal bride: an invite to Meghan to spend the night on the royal train, ahead of a working trip to the British town of Chester. The luxurious locomotive is one of the last working relics of the glory days of the Victorian era, and few indeed are those invited into this inner sanctum of the monarchy.
The two women are also said to have bonded over their love of dogs. The queen is said to have been thrilled that her corgis accepted Meghan immediately.
Harry himself confirmed this rumor when he told BBC interviewer Mishal Husain: “I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing.” Meghan herself said the dogs were, “Just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet.”
Note the way Meghan casually dropped in a reference to tea with the queen there; that is an invite truly reserved for the select few.
The queen made a very public statement of trust in Meghan when she handed her one of her most prized patronages: Meghan has now officially taken over from Her Majesty as the official patron of the National Theatre. The queen retires after a mere 45 years on that job. Expect more high profile patronages to follow this year.
Her relationship with Charles also continues to go well, sources say. Meghan flattered Charles when she asked him to walk her down the aisle at her wedding day, and although that was a decision born of tumultuous necessity, owing to her father dropping out, it has turned out to be a brilliantly strategic move.
Reports have also suggested that Charles and Meghan have bonded over art, history, and culture. Charles, who saw what Diana went through, is said to believe that Meghan’s Hollywood background makes her well-equipped to cope with the goldfish bowl of royal life.
Charles and the queen are crucially important allies for Meghan to cultivate. William and Kate may not be her biggest fans, but if Charles lives for another 20 years (to the age of 90) that may not matter quite so much.
Meghan has been accused by some critics of befriending people who may be of use to her.
She is quite right to do so. Getting on with and winning over Charles is supremely important. Charles has made no secret of his wish to ‘slim down’ the monarchy, ruthlessly snatching the teat of royal funding away from the families of his brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
The internal logic of that philosophy is that Harry and Meghan and their offspring should also face the rigors of the real world, while Kate and William and their three kids take on the business (and perks) of royalty.
But the royals have never been terribly afraid of contradicting themselves, and Charles clearly wishes to see both his children play a significant and active role in public life and the monarchy.
When William ascends to the throne in, say, 2040, he may or may not decide, as Charles has, to try and largely exclude his brother and any of his children from the substance (and funding) of royal life.
But if Meghan can win Charles over now, as appears to be the case, the Sussexes have a two-decade window in which to make the case for their indispensability.
There is even speculation that when the queen dies, and Charles moves into Buckingham Palace, Harry and Meghan and family may return to London to consolidate their position and could make a play for a London power base at Clarence House, Charles’ current London home, as William and Kate are thought to be quite happy to stay in Kensington Palace for as long as possible.
There is little doubt that there is competition between the courts of Sussex and Cambridge. Whether this rivalry will evolve into a friendly one or become toxic is impossible to say.
But as insurance policies go, if things do go sour, having the queen —and later King Charles—in their corner could prove very helpful to Meghan and Harry.