King Charles III delivers subtle burn to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

King Charles III addresses the nation and the Commonwealth from Buckingham Palace.Photo/Getty Images


That moment was 7 minutes 31 seconds into King Charles III’s first televised address as monarch.

Sitting in the blue drawing room of Buckingham Palace, a large framed photo of his mother with Her Majesty the Queen prominently addressing a nation in mourning, a speech that has long been sitting in a drawer waiting for the inevitable, but equally sobering. It is a sad moment for people as Britain enters a new Carroll era. (That was the correct name for that rule period when a guy named Charles was in charge.)

This is his chance to make his first impression as a monarch. Appearing before his people as a grieving son and king, he has waited for this moment all his life.

The first surprising development was Charles making his eldest son William Prince of Wales, a title that dates back to 1301. While the crown has passed to the 73-year-old, at the moment his mother took her last breath, the Welsh title did not function in the same way and had to be bestowed by the monarch. Many believe William’s promotion won’t come until 2023, once Charles and his wife Queen Camilla are crowned.

He himself only received the title at the age of 9 in 1958, and he reportedly learned the news while watching TV with his classmates while studying at the headmaster of Chim School.

But not Charles, who seems intent on starting his reign with some sort of verve to finish it off.

What about secondary development? How exactly did he decide to include his other son, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in this historic moment?

Speaking of which, the question is, what would he say to the self-imposed Sussex people who have lived in California for the better part of the past three years, signed huge deals, fed their chickens and started sweeping Palace criticism?

Prince Harry and Meghan meet people in Dusseldorf, Germany.Photo/AP  King Charles III delivers subtle burn to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan meet people in Dusseldorf, Germany.Photo/AP

Answer: In just 19 words, Charles managed to deliver a superb line that could be debated and parsed for decades.

So, seven and a half minutes later, the new king announced his final blow, saying: “I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas”.

Of course, Charles showed true fatherly love for his second son and his wife, taking time out of his historic speech to ensure the Sussexes were part of the moment.

But is this really an attempt at reconciliation, as some have said?

I’m not sure. On closer inspection, the way the King handles Harry’s problems is the equivalent of Fred Astaire’s fancy footwork.

On the one hand, there is the question of the title of the Sussex family or no title at all. In his speech, other family members he talked about were also referenced by their new titles. Charles spoke of his “dear wife Camilla” who is now “becoming my queen” and her “loyal public service”.

He then turned to “my heir William”, who “taken on a Scottish title that meant so much to me”, who “succeeded me as Duke of Cornwall” and declared: “I am proud to have created him as Tywysog West, Prince of Wales. Muru”.

Next, Kate and he told millions of viewers: “I know that our new Prince and Princess of Wales will continue to inspire and lead our national conversation, helping to bring the fringes to the heartland where vital help can be provided”.

However, when the Sussexes briefly lingered in the spotlight, he simply referred to them as “Harry and Meghan” without a single headline in sight.

King Charles sits next to the Queen's Crown at the Palace of Westminster during the opening of Parliament.Photo/AP  King Charles III delivers subtle burn to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
King Charles sits next to the Queen’s Crown at the Palace of Westminster during the opening of Parliament.Photo/AP

Perhaps more important here is not what the 42nd monarch after William the Conqueror said, but what he did not say. What kind of emotional expression did he choose at this time? Love. Not pride or respect or any reference to their work.

Of course, there was genuine warmth and caring in his words and expressions, but it’s worth noting that there was no mention of any notable accomplishments or the contributions they made during their time with the royal family.

By contrast, William and Kate came for Charles’ praise, saying they were “inspiring” and that they would “continue to…[to] Lead our national conversation and help bring marginalized groups to the heartland where vital help can be provided.”

If anyone had hoped that the Queen’s death (reported at 6.30pm London time) would bring a moment of healing and reconciliation between the Windsor family and Harry, the reality is sobering.

Earlier in the day, at 12.32pm, the Palace released an incredibly worrying statement saying the Queen’s doctors were “concerned” and “recommended that she remain under medical supervision”, more than an hour later , reports that all her children and William are galloping towards Balmoral.

Harry and Meghan will also be heading there, their spokesman said, only to amend it to just him sprinting north. (Kate also stayed.)

His brothers Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, were spotted speeding through Her Majesty’s Scottish estate around 4pm at the same time Harry took off from Luton in the small private jet. door.

An hour and a half later, with Harry still in the air, news that shocked the world came out. (Yes, I know she’s 96 and clearly out of shape, but are any of us really ready for this big turning point? Exactly.)

It stings a bit that the Palace announced this fact before he was reunited with his family, despite knowing Harry was on his way.

As former The Sun royal editor Duncan Lacombe told The Daily Beast, “I suspect it was a very humbling experience for Harry to get off the plane and actually see the announcement being made.”

Ditto for strange travel arrangements. Harry and Meghan’s home Frogmore Cottage, Cambridges’ Adelaide Cottage and Andrew’s Royal Lodge are all situated on Windsor estate, but the Duke travels completely separate. Did he not provide a seat on their plane, or did he choose not to fly with them? In both cases, the feud between William and Harry was indeed particularly bad.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan and Prince Harry stand on a balcony to watch an RAF plane fly over.Photo/Getty Images  King Charles III delivers subtle burn to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Queen Elizabeth, Meghan and Prince Harry stand on a balcony to watch an RAF plane fly over.Photo/Getty Images

(Larcombe raised another possibility, telling the Beast Brothers to “fly alone as a rule”, but “it’s not as strict as it used to be, especially given that George, Charlotte and Louis all replaced Harry in that order. succession”.)

After an expressionless Harry arrived at Balmoral, he was the first to leave 12 hours later, heading back to Aberdeen Airport for a flight back to London.

Harry has never seemed more isolated than he is now at a time when the royal family is united by grief. The photo of him wearing a black suit and backpack, walking across the tarmac entirely on his own really says it all.

What happens next for the duke and the wider royal family is completely unknown. Does his grandmother’s death mean he will shelve his upcoming autobiography, or will he feel entitled to the decision to track down the palace in the books with her passing, with all the gunshots burning?

The same goes for the couple’s Netflix series and their podcast work.

And for Charles, now that he’s king, is there anything he can do to heal the rift in order to finally end this sad chapter? Or will the Sussexes be pushed further to the brink given that he’s in charge, and with the new prince and Princess of Wales’ increasing responsibility and prestige?

Charles ended his speech by quoting Hamlet, speaking of his mother, “RIP thou the angel’s flying song.” It’s an incredibly moving moment, but there’s also a sad symmetry to it, and he chooses to reference a drama about a very unhappy prince who’s also out with his family.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and author with over 15 years of experience working with some of Australia’s leading media outlets.

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