Prince Harry, Meghan Markle declined queen’s invite to Balmoral twice, author claims: ‘A source of regret’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle allegedly declined an invitation to see Queen Elizabeth II twice before the monarch passed away in September.
                                    
The claim was made by Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent Katie Nicholl, who has written a new book titled, “The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.” In it, she details the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s exit from the British royal family and its lasting impact on all sides.

Nicholl alleged that the couple was first invited in summer 2019 to spend a long weekend at the queen’s beloved Balmoral estate in Scotland. However, the couple was allegedly distancing themselves months before they officially announced their departure.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle allegedly declined an offer to visit Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral in 2019, a decision that “raised eyebrows,” author Katie Nicholl claimed. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

“The queen traditionally hosted a big gathering for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Nicholl told Fox News Digital. “It was always a weekend that she looked forward to. And on this occasion, the Sussexes didn’t go. I was told that it wouldn’t have fit their narrative at that point. The narrative was very much ‘this is us against them.’ There was that sense of separation. And perhaps turning up and playing happy families wouldn’t have fit into that narrative.”

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In her book, Nicholl alleged that the Sussexes chose to take their son Archie to Ibiza and the South of France, a decision that “raised eyebrows.” At the time, reports alleged that the getaway coincided with Markle’s birthday on August 4.

By that point, Markle, a former American actress, was said to be frustrated with the palace’s lack of support. Nicholl said the couple was “exhausted by the press scrutiny, a racism they felt was both overt and covert, and the primal need as parents to protect their baby son.” Life in the U.K. had become “unbearable.”

In 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping back as senior members of the British royal family. <span class="copyright">Chris Jackson/Getty Images</span>

In 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping back as senior members of the British royal family. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“According to a palace insider, the couple was left shaken by the experience and increasingly concerned by the online trolling of Meghan, which grew exponentially as she transformed from royal girlfriend to new duchess,” Nicholl wrote. “Her work ethic, style, and self-belief led to a steady stream of negative stories. At first, they related to her attitude toward palace staff. Soon and more alarmingly, they would concern her relationship with her sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge.”

“It should be pointed out that Catherine also had to tolerate unpleasant and derogatory press coverage during her tenure as a royal girlfriend and fiancée, specifically about her middle-class upbringing and her mother’s former job as a flight attendant,” she noted, referring to Kate Middleton.

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In 2020, the couple announced they were stepping back as senior members of the royal family. They cited the British media’s intrusions and racist attitudes towards the duchess, 41. The pair moved to California and welcomed a daughter named Lilibet in 2021.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were residing in California when they allegedly received another invitation to Balmoral, author Katie Nicholl claimed. <span class="copyright">Chris Jackson/Getty Images</span>

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were residing in California when they allegedly received another invitation to Balmoral, author Katie Nicholl claimed. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“I think what’s almost more poignant than that summer of 2019 was this summer when the queen also extended an invitation to Harry and Meghan and the children to come and spend some time with her at the end of that summer,” Nicholl claimed. “And they weren’t able to go. I would imagine that might well be a source of regret for Prince Harry.”

In February 2022, attorneys for Harry said in a court hearing that he was unwilling to bring his children to his homeland because it was not safe. They noted that the 38-year-old wanted to bring Archie and Lilibet, who were nearly 3 years old and 8 months old at the time, to visit his home country from the U.S. but felt it would be too risky without police protection. The prince had launched a legal challenge to the U.K.’s government’s refusal to let him personally pay for police protection.

Senior members of the royal family are given taxpayer-funded police protection. However, the Sussexes lost that when they stepped down as working royals and moved to the U.S.

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Prince Harry did not believe it was safe to bring his two children, Archie and Lilibet, to his home country. <span class="copyright">Victoria Jones</span>

Prince Harry did not believe it was safe to bring his two children, Archie and Lilibet, to his home country. Victoria Jones

In July 2022, a judge in London ruled that Harry could take the British government to court over his security arrangements in the U.K. A date was not set for the case to be heard.

In June, the couple, along with their young children, briefly visited the U.K. for the Platinum Jubilee, which commemorated the queen’s 70 years on the throne. According to reports, Harry and Markle had hoped to bring a professional photographer to capture the moment of the queen meeting her namesake. However, it is believed the suggestion was rejected by the queen as it was a private family meeting. No official photos of the queen meeting her great-granddaughter were released to the public.

According to Nicholl, Harry allegedly did not want to exit the royal family. He had hoped there was another way to make it all work.

Author Katie Nicholl alleged that Prince Harry did not want to completely exit from the royal family. He was hoping to reach a common ground where he could support the monarchy and still be financially independent. <span class="copyright">John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images</span>

Author Katie Nicholl alleged that Prince Harry did not want to completely exit from the royal family. He was hoping to reach a common ground where he could support the monarchy and still be financially independent. John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images

“When Meghan came along, I think in many ways she was the catalyst to allow Harry to explore a different avenue,” she explained. “I think one that he’d always considered, one that was always an attractive option [to] perhaps get out of that… goldfish bowl of royalty. I don’t think he ever wanted to really leave. I think he truly believed there was a third way of doing this. And that was a way of representing the queen and still being able to live financially independent lives. But of course, that’s never worked in the past. It’s unlikely to work because there’s always going to be a conflict, a clash of interests. We saw the queen move quite swiftly to ensure that that didn’t happen.”

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Nicholl said that the queen made it clear to the Sussexes that “you’re either in and out – there’s no in between.” She also claimed that the queen was “deeply hurt by Harry’s decision to leave his family and the country.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave after paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall. <span class="copyright">Emilio Morenatti/Pool/AFP via Getty Images</span>

Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave after paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall. Emilio Morenatti/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

“Privately, the queen confided to a close friend that she was exhausted by the turmoil of it all,” Nicholl quoted her source. “She was very hurt and told me, ‘I don’t know, I don’t care, and I don’t want to think about it anymore.’”

The monarch passed away on Sept. 8 at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle. She was 96.

“If you are in the royal family, you are either in or you are out,” said Nicholl. “What struck me so much over the course of the days leading up to the queen’s funeral was it was very apparent that while [King] Charles had made great concessions to include Harry and Meghan, they were very peripheral. Their roles now as royals are peripherals. That’s why they’re peripheral in my book. They’re not on the cover. Of course, I cover their narrative. It would be impossible not to. But in terms of the future and the new royals, it’s not Harry and Meghan.”