Prince Harry reignited royal rifts with a new bombshell TV interview — even as he was riding a wave of positive publicity for his Invictus Games tournament.
The Duke of Sussex is back on the UK newspaper front pages with tales of palace fury at his latest revelations.
Newsweek has been told the Prince of Wales was pleased to see the Sussexes and hear the news of their children, Archie, who turns three in May, and Lilibet, ten months old.
However, it took just six days for the fragile peace to break down as Harry joined Hoda Kotb, from NBC‘s Today show, to discuss tea with the queen and royal relations.
The outcome included several swipes sure to ruffle feathers within the Monarchy and was broadcast in full the day before Elizabeth’s birthday.
Prince Harry’s Interview
The first bombshell landed overnight UK time when NBC broadcast a promo clip on Tuesday evening, April 19.
In it, Harry said, “It was just so nice to see her. She’s on great form. She’s always got a great sense of humor with me and I’m just making sure that she’s, you know, protected and got the right people around her. “
It was unclear who he felt she needed protecting from but Prince Andrew recently landed the monarch, who turned 96 on April 21, with a wave of negative commentary after walking her into a memorial to Prince Philip, weeks after settling his Jeffrey Epstein-related civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
However, Harry and Meghan have also spoken previously about friction between them and royal staff, not to mention long-standing tension with other family members.
Even as UK commentators criticized Harry’s words, the full interview was broadcast on the Today show on Wednesday morning, spelling further controversy.
Harry acknowledged he does not know whether he will attend the Platinum Jubilee celebrating his grandmother’s 70 years on the throne in June, citing a dispute over his police protection.
The duke is suing the UK government for removing his police bodyguards during visits to Britain.
However, he also suggested he has a unique connection with the Monarch when he said: “We have a really special relationship. We talk about things that she can’t talk about with anyone else. So that’s always a nice piece to it.”
If that may have rubbed other family members up the wrong way it was not the end as he also swerved a question on whether he had been missing Prince Charles and Prince William.
Harry replied, “Look, I mean … at the moment, I’m here focused on these guys [at the Invictus Games] and these families and giving everything I can, 120 percent to them to make sure that they have the experience of a lifetime. That’s my focus here. “
And there was more for Prince William to stew over as Harry suggested their mother Princess Diana has moved on to helping him.
Asked whether he felt Diana’s presence, Harry said: “More so than ever before. It’s almost as if she’s done her bit with my brother and now she’s very much helping me. She’s got him set up, now she’s helping me set up. That’s it. what it feels like. “
Harry also suggested the queen does not care about her birthday hours before a specially commissioned portrait was released to the media celebrating the milestone.
Harry’s words triggered a predictable chorus of condemnation in Britain, including from familiar names like Piers Morgan.
However, it appeared to also trigger the political class, with the Prime Minister’s spokesperson asked at a Downing Street lobby briefing whether he considered the queen’s formal protection arrangements to be adequate.
Quoted by The Daily Mail, Boris Johnson‘s spokesperson replied simply: “Yes.”
A former Number Ten advisor from ex-Prime Minister Theresa May‘s era also weighed in.
Nick Timothy wrote on Twitter: “Moving to California, accusing your family of racism, suing the Queen’s ministers, briefing against her heirs, undermining institution she has served her whole life … top job protecting her.”
However, US-based Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Newsweek: “Harry’s attempt to reconnect with the queen shows he’s willing to put his ego aside and the past pain that has come up in part through leaks to the media.
“He’s trying to rebuild a relationship, which is something that I think Americans will appreciate.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee
However, as the Invictus Games nears its end, on Friday, April 22, there is a further potential sticking point down the line in the form of the queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Harry hinted he may not go due to the security lawsuit when asked a direct question by Hoda Kotb.
He said: “I don’t know yet. There’s lots of things with security issues and everything else. This is what I’m trying to do, trying to make it possible that I can get my kids to meet her.”
Lilibet, his daughter, has never met the Monarch, despite being named in tribute to Elizabeth’s family nickname, while Archie will have no memories of seeing her face-to-face having not been in Britain since he was a baby.
Schiffer told Newsweek: “I think part of this will come down to whether the queen wants him there. If the queen invites him then I think Harry will find a way through the process to be there in the flesh.
“The last thing he wants to do after rekindling and reconnecting with the Crown and the queen is to somehow destroy it over a political blunder based upon protection when the relationship is king.”
For more royal news and commentary check out Newsweek‘s The Royal Report podcast: