Not for the first time in the Queen’s long reign, all eyes will be on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at lunchtime today as the military parade gives way to the deafening roar of an RAF air show.
Over the years, as once-familiar figures were moved to the fringes of royal life, the image offered a fascinating glimpse into who was and who was there.
This time, however, the spectacle will rival another game, and the outcome depends on more.
Because it will give us a glamorous spectacle of Prince Harry and Meghan being publicly reunited with the rest of the royal family for the first time since their frosty departure from the UK more than two years ago.
It should also provide a view of their children: Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, one Saturday, who will meet her great-grandmother for the first time. Although her grandson and his children were excluded from the pomp of the palace gathering, the queen insisted they would be given the same courtesy and extended to the wider royal family.
They will join the Duchess of Cambridge and her three children, cousins of Archie and Lilibet, to watch the Horse Guards parade from the grandstand, where the army is held.
Harry and Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland introduce Archie to the Queen and Prince Philip in May 2019
The first photo of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter (above) was released in last year’s Christmas card
The significance of this olive branch invitation is self-evident. Because it offers a real opportunity to not only heal the rift between Sussex and the royal family, but also to repair the Windsor House brand, which has been badly damaged by Harry and Meghan’s spat, at least in the US.
More importantly, it ensures that the couple, who are unsure of what the public will get during the four days of the Platinum Jubilee festivities, are greeted with warmth and not coldness.
Goodwill is far from guaranteed. The couple’s latest approval ratings can’t escape their attention: According to YouGov polling data, only a third of Britons have a positive view of the Duke, while more than half have a negative view of him, with a net approval rating of – 26. Meghan’s situation was even worse, with her approval rating falling to -42 from -39 in March.
So if you want to get along, it will be more than just a photo opportunity, no matter how cleverly arranged. Due to their allegations of racism, family members and staff alike claim apathy, and memories of the Oprah Winfrey interview remain strong and trust in the Duke and Duchess remains low.
But the Queen was determined that the Jubilee should be a time to put aside differences and unite the nation and her family – so she offered Harry and Meghan circus seats.
Harry and Meghan pictured together in controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey last year
Harry and Meghan compete in volleyball together during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark in April
The Sussexes are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage, where they will throw a small party for Lilibet, with the Queen likely to attend
Baby Lilibet’s role could be crucial. When the couple announced they would name their daughter Lilibet, the Queen’s family nickname, it was seen as a presumptuous choice for a baby who, though eighth in line to the throne, would grow up on the other side of the world. Has an American accent.
The courtiers saw it as being offensive and somewhat cynical to secure the Sussexes’ long-term future as members of the royal family. Some wondered if they had even asked the Queen’s permission.
But time is a great healer, and I know the 96-year-old queen is eager to meet her 11th great-grandchild. While such a meeting could take place today, it could be postponed until Lilibet’s birthday on Saturday.
If so, it will almost certainly happen in the Queen’s private apartment at Windsor Castle. But the timing will depend on whether there are planned later changes, and although reports say she is not expected to attend, the Queen will be in the derby after all.
If it did happen, imagine if a picture was posted. The photo of Lilibet’s meeting with Lilibet will be a more eloquent symbol of family unity and forgiveness than any anonymous briefing.
It could also be a powerful metaphor for things to come. Even Prince Philip’s decision to set aside his hostility towards the Duchess of York and take a photo with Princess Eugenie at her wedding was seen as sympathy for the wayward Ferguson.
Last month, in honour of her great-grandson Archie’s third birthday, the Palace re-released the memorable photo of Harry and Meghan showing the Queen and Philip their newborn son, along with the Duchess’ mother Doria, at Windsor Castle , which is no coincidence. look.
It’s one of the Queen’s favourite photos, when Harry and Meghan’s pain in leaving California was so far away, the image of the royal family seemed inclusive and diverse. How times have changed.
According to Page Six, Harry and Meghan landed at London airport this afternoon with a small crew of staff
Through their TV interviews, the couple portrayed the royals as distant, aloof and disconnected. Still, other family members, including Prince Charles, supported the Queen’s magnanimous gesture towards the Sussexes – despite tensions among the royals.
Those concerns centre on Harry’s “intimate and sincere” memoir. It was initially said to be coming this fall, but there’s no sign of it on any pre-release book listings. Aides don’t know if the manuscript has been sent to the publisher or if the prince and his ghostwriters are still working on it.
Influential commentator and author Tina Brown suggested the palace take steps to persuade the prince to drop the book. “Someone needs to go to Harry and try to say, ‘We’ll give you a check for whatever you negotiated for the book, and in return we’re asking you not to.'” ‘
Given that Harry reportedly received an upfront payment of £16 million for the book, this may be beyond the royal family’s deep pockets. But at least, they might be able to encourage him to soften his content.
Aides are also investigating reports that Harry and Meghan may want to return to the royal family because their media careers are not as durable as they had hoped. Their deal with less-stressed streaming giant Netflix looks less promising, while a deal with Spotify has yet to materialize.
Currently, there is no doubt that the couple are on probation during their four-day stay.
What no one knows is how Harry and Meghan will respond to their greatly reduced temporary roles in this jubilee tale, no matter how generous the Queen appears. For the Diamond Jubilee a decade ago and the Golden Jubilee 20 years ago, Harry was at the center of the celebrations and every balcony coin tossed.
Today, he will be uncomfortable knowing how far he has come to the brink of royal life. However, it’s possible that his daughter, named after his beloved grandmother and son, will remain the same.