September 8 will mark one year since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
And the royal family plans to mark the occasion in a manner that would make the late monarch proud:
Sources have confirmed that there will be a good deal of “quiet reflection,” but in honor of Elizabeth’s indefatigable work ethic and commitment to public service, there will also be an award ceremony for contributors to the WellChild charitable foundation.
After weeks of uncertainty, it now looks as though Prince Harry will be on hand for the tribute to his late grandmother — but he will not joined by his wife, Meghan Markle.
This is not terribly shocking news, as Harry also attended King Charles’ coronation without Meghan back in May.
But the reports of Meghan’s absence are somewhat surprising for several reasons:
For starters, Harry and Meghan are set to attend the Invictus Games together in Dusseldorf, Germany on September 9, and it was assumed that they would make their stopover in London on their way to that event.
The fact that Harry will be alone in London seems to indicate that the Sussexes will be making the long journey to Dusseldorf separately.
And then there’s the matter of the recent turmoil regarding the couple’s public image.
New polls indicate that Harry and Meghan’s approval ratings have been on the decline throughout 2023.
And the tabloid press has been having a field day with recent photos in which Meghan is clearly not wearing her engagement ring while hanging out with friends at an LA eatery.
Insiders insist that the ring is merely being repaired and that all is well between Harry and Meghan.
That seems like the likeliest explanation, but the fact remains that the Sussexes have been appearing in public separately more frequently than ever in recent weeks — and a joint appearance in London would have gone a long way toward dispelling the rumors of marital strife.
Instead, Meghan’s absence might bolster claims that a seemingly endless string of PR crises have placed a strain on the Sussexes’ marriage.
Journalist Judith Woods is the latest commentator to suggest that Meghan’s bare ring finger is an indication of trouble within Harry and Meghan’s relationship.
But unlike other pundits who have taken the alarmist approach, Woods is of the belief that there’s no cause for concern.
“Here’s the thing; maybe, just maybe, Meghan is simply very cross with Harry. No biggie,” Woods wrote this week in her column for the Daily Telegraph (via Express).
“Meghan, if you did take it off for whatever reason and have lost your Markle sparkle, you are not alone.”
Woods went on to explain that many women have taken off their rings as an act of silent protest after fighting with their spouses.
And it stands to reason that some of those women would have proceeded to accidentally misplace this most prized piece of jewelry.
In fact, the columnist says she once made that mistake herself!
“I’m not judging your motivations. Taking off a ring is a bit of a statement,” Woods wrote.
“Just ‘fess up to Harry. He’ll definitely buy you a new one as it’s a first offence, the whole ‘is she… isn’t she” speculation will stop and Harmony (see what I did there?) will be well and truly restored.”
It’s refreshing to see Meghan receiving a bit of sympathy from the British press.
If that sort of thing happened more often, perhaps the Sussexes wouldn’t feel the need to be so fiercely protective of their privacy.
But Meghan is well aware that she wouldn’t find much compassion among the media if she were to join Harry in London.
Which is why she’s probably making the right move by simply meeting her husband in Dusseldorf.
As for what the future holds with regard to Harry and Meghan’s careers, that’s anyone’s guess.
Some say the couple is about to launch a carefully choreographed comeback that will make them more popular than ever.
Others say Meghan is showing signs of stress and fatigue, and she may be planning to step away from the spotlight for a while.
Whatever the case, the Sussexes continue to enjoy the support of a massive global fan base, and it’s a safe bet that they won’t be fading into obscurity anytime soon.
According to a new report from OK! magazine, Harry has rented rooms at Kensington Palace.
And this is a far more significant development than it might initially seem.
For most of the time that they’ve lived in America, the Sussexes maintained Frogmore Cottage as a sort of home away from home in the UK.
In March of this year, however, King Charles evicted Harry and Meghan from the property, a move that was allegedly prompted by Charles’ anger over revelations made in Harry’s memoir.
Insiders say that in response, the Sussexes vowed to never again reside in buildings owned by Harry’s family.
So their decision to rent a flat at Kensington — which currently serves as the primary residence of Prince William and Kate Middleton — could be indicative of a desire to make amends.
If the Sussexes’ efforts to bury the hatchet prove successful, then perhaps this will be the last time that Meghan will feel the need to remain at home during one of her husband’s trips to the UK.
Some have even suggested that Harry and Meghan are hoping to cut their losses in California and return to the UK on a permanent basis.
If that’s the case, then an awful lot is riding on this trip.
You can be certain that Meghan and royal-watchers all around the world will be watching the situation very closely.
Of course, as the Sussexes commence their peace-making efforts, their supporters and their critics will likely be rooting for different outcomes.
Most members of the so-called “Sussex Squad” would love to see Harry and Meghan put the drama behind them, but in the UK, those folks are outnumbered by staunch royalists who hope that Charles will stand firm in his refusal to forgive his rebellious youngest son.
The latter group is already complaining about Meghan’s decision not to escort Harry on his upcoming trip.
“Apparently she is not gracing London with her presence,” royal expert Tessa Dunlop told the Mirror this week.
“A rare Sussex double act is being saved for Germany where the duchess will assist Harry with the closing ceremony,” she continued.
“On this occasion, I suspect Meghan’s no-show in London says more about her antipathy towards Britain, than the couple’s relationship. We don’t deserve her, at least so she probably thinks.”
That very hostility has some observers convinced that Harry and Meghan will never return to the UK on a permanent basis.
“After losing Frogmore, they need a base in the UK, and it’s likely this will be an occasional home and somewhere for them to stay when they’re here rather than anything permanent,” journalist Duncan Larcombe told Bella magazine this week.
“But this is a clear sign that they are trying to make amends with the rest of the family.”
Like many others who have commented on the situation, Larcombe believes the turning point in the feud between the Sussexes and the rest of the royals was the January publication of Harry’s memoir.
“In the months since Harry’s book Spare, which was published in January, we have seen a softening in Harry and Meghan’s attitudes towards the rest of the royals – if nothing else, in keeping their mouths shut,” Larcombe said.
“We’ve had six months of them not saying anything about the royals to fuel the beast, and time heals. That’s a healthy sign because they’ve got a long way to go to be back in the heart of the family with all the bridges they’ve burnt.”
Now it seems that Harry has embarked on the long process of mending fences with his father, brother, and sister-in-law.
Sadly, a hesitant intercontinental peace might be the best that the Sussexes can hope for.
But that might be enough to bring some much-needed stability to this situation.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as new information becomes available.