King Charles ‘Very Saddened’ by Estrangement From Archie and Lilibet

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Amid the wave of relief that swept Buckingham Palace on Wednesday as it was finally announced that Prince Harry would attend the coronation of King Charles, insiders told The Daily Beast that the king was “saddened by the estrangement” from his grandchildren, Archie and Lilibet, who, along with their mother, Meghan Markle, will not be there.

“The whole thing with Harry is just desperately sad,” a friend of King Charles told The Daily Beast. “And [Charles] is also very saddened by the estrangement from the children. But at least Harry attending the coronation is a chink of light. The door has not been totally slammed shut.”

The friend said, however, that Charles is not given to self-pity (students of his interviews, speeches and his portrayal on The Crown and in a multiplicity of other books and memoirs may beg to differ) and is not “wallowing” in the grief of the breakdown of the relationship with Harry. “He is the king. He has plenty to occupy him,” said the friend.

Although Charles met Archie, 3 several times when the Sussexes were still living in the U.K., he is believed to have only met Lilibet, 1, once, when Harry and Meghan came en famille to England for the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

The “very emotional” first meeting left Charles “absolutely thrilled” the BBC reported at the time, citing a royal source.

Speaking to friends of the king, you get the impression there is little doubt that in a perfect world he would like to be a part of Archie and Lilibet’s life.

As a royal source told the Sun this week: “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.”

Neither Buckingham Palace, nor Harry and Meghan‘s office, responded to requests for comment by The Daily Beast for this article.

Of course, one way Charles might have got his American grandkids to attend the coronation would have been to offer them a role in proceedings. Lilibet might be too young to be included, but Archie, who turns 4 on the day, could easily have been given a symbolic task alongside William and Kate’s children, and Camilla’s grandchildren, who have all been given roles.

Incredibly, however, The Daily Beast understands that the Sussex children were not invited to attend even fringe family events, let alone the coronation itself.

Supporters of Charles argue that to offer the Sussexes a role would have been to risk the family drama overshadowing the solemn celebration of the day.

But critics of the king might well respond that if he really wanted to see more of his grandchildren, he maybe shouldn’t have evicted their parents from their British holiday home, Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate.

There is no doubt that obliging the Sussexes to vacate that house has not only made them feel very unwelcome, but has also made it considerably harder on a practical level for the family to plan to spend any time in the U.K. Indeed, most observers now believe that sightings of Meghan and her children on British soil over the next decade will be somewhere between few and none, and there is little prospect of Charles dropping in on Harry and Meghan in their Montecito home either.

The irony is that while Charles was a distant figure for much of Harry and William’s childhood, he has made a conscious effort to be a warm grandfather to William and Kate’s kids, who call him “Grandpa Wales.”

Britain’s King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis attend the Royal Family’s Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene’s church, as the Royals take residence at the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain December 25, 2022.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

A story about him reading the Harry Potter stories to his step-grandchildren by Camilla has also been offered as evidence for his grandfatherly tendencies. The anecdote came from a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday in which Camilla said: “My grandchildren adore him, absolutely adore him. He’s a brilliant mimic. He reads Harry Potter and he can do all the different voices and I think children really appreciate that.”

On the same show, William said of his father: “I would like him to have more time with the children… to play around. When he’s there, he’s brilliant, but we need him there as much as possible.” His remarks were undeniably warm, but did more than hint at the irritation many around Charles have long felt at his tendency to prioritize work and duty over family.

Indeed, friends of William and Kate say that their children are much closer to Kate’s parents, Carole and Mike, who often take the children on outings and activities. William and Kate have always spent a lot of time with the Middletons, prompting reports at one time that Charles felt jealous of them due to not seeing enough of George, Charlotte, and Louis.

Not prioritizing the kids is not a mistake Meghan will make. Sources close to Meghan told the Daily Telegraph that a significant factor in her decision was because Archie’s birthday falls on the same day as the coronation.

As unlikely as this may seem to cynics, it has allowed the Sussexes to brief convincingly that their decision was based on “authenticity, respect and love,” as one friend is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.

Now that he knows the joys of being a grandparent, on some deep emotional level the king must feel a connection to Harry and Meghan’s children.

Christopher Andersen

The writer Christopher Andersen, author of the bestselling biography of Charles, The King, told The Daily Beast: “Harry made the only decision he could, given the circumstances. Not showing up at all would have been the death knell of his relationship with the king and the rest of the royal family.

“Regardless of all the bad blood between Harry and the rest of the family, at this particular moment in history the king above all wants to convey the resilience of the monarchy—and that requires an image of unity.

“I’m sure the Palace is blaming Meghan for the decision to remain in Montecito with the kids. But by the same token, without his wife’s express approval, Harry would never be making a solo appearance. It’s definitely a glass half-empty or glass half-full situation.

“Charles has to be very relieved and pleased that his second son will be there, even if Meghan, Archie, and Lilibet won’t. This doesn’t mean Archie and Lilibet won’t be welcomed into the royal fold at some future date. I’m sure Charles would like for that to happen. Now that he knows the joys of being a grandparent, on some deep emotional level the king must feel a connection to Harry and Meghan’s children. But first all parties have to find a way to mend the torn relationship between the Sussexes and the rest of the clan.”

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