The image of Harry and Meghan was perhaps the most telling of the year when it comes to their new relationship with the royals.
He wore a somber suit with a red poppy flower and military medals, she in a long black dress. They held hands as they walked through Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Sunday in November to pay a floral tribute to the fallen.
In what was perceived to be a blatant publicity stunt, the couple decided to publish the pictures after Harry was denied permission to place a wreath on the cenotaph on his behalf that day, along with those of other family members.
The story then – and it was not publicly corrected because the royals felt it was disrespectful to turn the nation's act of memory into a family dispute – was that palace officials made the decision without discussing it with his grandmother.
Prince Harry was denied permission to place a wreath on the cenotaph on Memorial Sunday. But the decision was a firm one with the Queen, not the Buckingham Palace officials
On Remembrance Sunday, Harry and Meghan walked through Los Angeles National Cemetery to pay homage to the fallen
But today I can show that only the queen was behind the rejection – and that it took her "every two seconds" to make a decision.
"Remembrance Sunday is sacred when it comes to Her Majesty's diary," explains my source. & # 39; It's one of the most important dates on your calendar and nothing is done without your knowledge.
People suggested that the palace's reaction to what Harry asked was petty. But it was the queen's choice. And besides, she actually had very strong views on the subject. & # 39;
Another source tells me, “While she has tremendous admiration for Harry's accomplishments both inside and outside the military, this has been seen as an example of his lack of understanding of what it means to him to be a non-working king.
“The Queen is very firmly convinced that there is no choice of what to do about the institution. Either you're in – or you're out. & # 39;
This week, Harry and Meghan's newest project took place – the launch of their updated new website declaring their mission to "build a better world".
While it carries a picture of Diana and Harry describes himself as "his mother's son" on the website, there is no photo or mention of his father Charles.
Many see this as an indication of how far apart Harry and his family are from each other, despite the fact that the Prince of Wales has worked hard to maintain a good relationship with his younger son.
It's hard to believe that a year ago today, the royals happily prepared for their annual pheasant shoot on New Years Day in Sandringham.
In what was considered a blatant publicity stunt, the couple decided to publish the pictures after Harry was denied permission to place the cenotaph wreath in his name
Prince Charles has tried to keep family relationships civil and refused to even discuss the matter. Pictured: Prince Charles and Prince William at the cenotaph on Memorial Sunday
Charles regrets Harry's departure – he loves his son very much – but his approach is, "What is done is done, it is time to move forward," says someone who knows him well
There were no ominous signs of the extent of the coming rupture on the horizon. The courtiers calmly prepared for a busy year – including at least two major trips abroad for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
& # 39; Megxit & # 39; was not even included in our lexicon, let alone as one of the & # 39; words of the year & # 39; of the Collins English Dictionary.
Exactly a week later, however, the peace in the Queen's Norfolk-Bolthole was shaken by the bombing announcement by Harry and Meghan that they intended to resign as high-ranking members of the royal family in order to pursue lucrative commercial careers abroad.
When the M-word arrived about three months later, the country was locked and the Queen was preparing her first public address on the pandemic in isolation with the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor.
It's an understatement to say 2020 was a tumultuous year for the House of Windsor.
In public, it was marked by the coronavirus crisis, which required admirably skilled footwork on behalf of the royal households to ensure that the monarchy, so dependent on personal conversations with the public, remained relevant.
This week, Harry and Meghan's newest project took place – the launch of their updated new website declaring their mission to "build a better world".
While it bears the above picture of Diana and Harry describes himself as "his mother's son" on the website, there is no photo or mention of his father Charles
Many see this as an indication of how far apart Harry and his family are from each other, despite the fact that the Prince of Wales has worked hard to maintain a good relationship with his younger son. Pictured: Harry and Meghan with Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, on their way to St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham in 2018
In private life, however, the Sussexes' bitter departure has left painfully deep scars, especially on Prince William – scars that, as connoisseurs say, may never be healed.
Since the beginning of the year, the 94-year-old queen, who has spent the vast majority of the past eight months in isolation in Windsor, has shown a calm but steely determination towards Harry and Meghan.
Prince William will be unhappy. Harry takes advantage of Princess Diana's cult status on the new Archewell website
By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Prince William will be concerned that his brother Harry "appears to be taking advantage of his mother's cult status" after using a picture with her late mother Princess Diana to launch his new website with Meghan Markle, a royal expert claimed today.
The updated Archewell website included a picture of the young prince perched on Princess Diana's shoulders and taken in Highgrove, Gloucestershire in July 1986.
In an introductory letter, Harry was introduced as "my mother's son" and said that the couple had experienced both compassion and kindness "from our mothers and strangers alike."
But it didn't refer to Harry's father, Prince Charles, or his brother William – and royal expert Phil Dampier said this didn't go unnoticed by the family.
He told MailOnline today, “I think William will be a little concerned if Harry uses Diana for one of his charitable or commercial endeavors without consulting him, and I don't think he'd be happy if Harry earned his iconic status Mother seems to take advantage.
“ It's also very important that Harry called himself his mother's son but didn't mention Prince Charles. William is now very much following in his father's footsteps with his environmental and conservation work.
"And while Harry has praised his father in the past, it seems strange not to mention him again and work with him instead of separately."
As the head of the company, she put aside her real love for her grandson and the deep personal pain she felt in his actions.
And she moved quickly to make it clear to Harry that he and Meghan could enjoy the best of both worlds, make their fortune in LA, and "support" them as part-time royals 6,000 miles away.
"Harry was told very clearly by his grandmother in January that 'you work for the monarchy, the monarchy doesn't work for you," "a source told me. “And if you can't accept that, you have to go away. Her Majesty was remarkably clear and determined on this point and never deviated from it.
"I think what has developed across the Atlantic this year has only helped to prove their point."
While proposals that the Palace were "angry" in the Sussexes' decision to grab millions of deals from Netflix and Spotify are far from emphasizing why Her Majesty acted as She did.
"The business you've done since moving to California clearly shows the truth: you simply had ambitions that were totally incompatible with being a member of the royal family," an insider told me.
& # 39; It was her decision to go and seek her happiness elsewhere. Nobody banned them. Indeed, the Queen made it clear that she did not want Harry and Meghan to leave and that they are still very much loved members of their family and have their support.
& # 39; Harry and Meghan are clearly where they want to be and good luck to them.
"But her later career choices ruined any chance of even holding a quasi-official royal role."
Meghan's recent association with friend Oprah Winfrey to publicize her new range of vegan lattes – which led the entertainment legend to shamelessly peg her on Instagram with a crown emoji – was viewed as not all clumsy in the opinion of many at the Royal Household. but probably a direct violation of her and Harry's promise not to discredit the monarchy.
"It just underscores the queen's judgment," emphasized another source. “You just can't play both roles without conflict. And contrary to speculation, it was actually a pretty easy decision on Her Majesty's behalf.
“The Queen knows that there cannot be a working member of the royal family who is receiving millions of pounds from Spotify to tell people to 'swipe and follow' their podcast or encourage consumers to buy a particular brand of coffee. The two are just not compatible. & # 39;
Last March, it was agreed with the palace that Harry and Meghan would have a twelve-month probationary period before reviewing their future role in the royal family.
Despite rumors that the couple are looking to extend their probationary period by another 12 months, the fact is that future royal roles are now "dead in the water," according to sources.
“It's all down to the choices you made. There is no anger or hostility (on behalf of the royal family). But every commercial deal the Sussexes made has been a nail in the coffin of any kind of return to royal life. & # 39;
Another source stated, "Coming back would mean undoing any commercial connections they have already made, and Harry and Meghan clearly don't want that. This is absolutely her choice and the Queen has agreed that they can pursue these new carers.
There are categorically no plans to strip Harry and Meghan of their titles, despite much public speculation. After the abdication of Edward VIII, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor kept theirs until the day they died
"But to contain it all, they bought a house 6,000 miles away, which is an unmistakable statement of intent for them."
Sources also point out that Harry is unlikely to be able to regain military roles that may have been left open to him. For a proud soldier, it is probably one of the bitterest regrets.
But there are categorically no plans to withdraw their titles from them, despite much public speculation. After the abdication of Edward VIII, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor kept theirs until the day they died.
Stripping Harry and Meghan of their titles would only be a criminal offense, and whatever else the royal family is, insiders say they're not petty.
Interestingly, I understand Meghan – possibly frivolously – once told friends that she would "happily" return her title, which was a wedding gift from the Queen.
However, there is no suggestion that she would like on this. It seems that a duchess (or duke) carries a useful stamp of approval for the time being in the United States.
William was also deeply hurt by suggestions from the Sussex camp that he, and his wife in particular, had cold-shouldered Meghan
The downside of Williams' deep disenchantment, however, is that at 38 he built bridges with his 72-year-old father, with whom he did not always have the easiest relationship
William and Kate are said to have become stronger as a couple than ever before. They have become much less risky – William participates in a well-received comic relief sketch and has their children filmed on their doorstep during the weekly "Caregiver Clap".
"It loosened up a lot," says a friend, "both of them actually did it." As a couple, William and Kate are pretty careful. People expect them to be very confident, but they are not, of course not. & # 39;
The hole Harry and Meghan's departure left is something that each family member has dealt with in their own way.
Prince Charles has tried to keep family relationships civil and refused to even discuss the matter. He regrets Harry's departure – he loves his son very much – but his approach is, "What is done is done, it is time to move forward," says someone who knows him well.
However, it is William who sensed Harry's decision to most likely leave the family.
He has forfeited not just a beloved brother, but someone he expected to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and share the burden of responsibility when he became king.
William was also deeply hurt by suggestions from the Sussex camp that he, and his wife in particular, had cold-shouldered Meghan.
In fact, I was told that Kate – and the Countess of Wessex – both "contacted" the Duchess repeatedly, particularly after she voiced her misfortune in a television documentary. But they were turned away.
The downside of Williams' deep disenchantment, however, is that at the age of 38 he built bridges with his 72-year-old father, with whom he did not always have the easiest relationship.
"William has realized that if he is to make it, he has to be more focused on his father and they have to work as a team," says my source.
He and Kate are said to have become stronger as a couple than ever before.
They have become much less risky – William participates in a well-received comic relief sketch and has their children filming on their doorstep during the weekly “Clap for Caregivers”.
"It loosened up a lot," says a friend, "both of them actually did it." As a couple, William and Kate are pretty careful. People expect them to be very confident, but they are not, of course not.
“Everything that happened this year changed that. You did a really good job. & # 39;
Older family members, particularly Charles and Camilla, as well as the Queen, Princess Anne and the Wessexes, have also enthusiastically embraced the video calling culture and, where possible, have made smaller, more intimate public engagements.
Will the family be reconciled? The litmus test will be the Duke of Edinburgh's 100th birthday in June, followed by the planned unveiling of the long-awaited memorial statue to William and Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, Covid, if Covid allows
Although the Prince of Wales fought Covid himself and was considered vulnerable due to his age, he was the first family member to video message from home and conduct a lockdown engagement to meet President Macron of France.
As for the Queen, she still hopes to resume work at Buckingham Palace one day in the not too distant future, despite claims that she may never return to public life.
One thing is certain, however. 2021 is a year her expat grandson and wife are likely to be completely free from the supposed shackles of royal life.
A source tells me, “The pandemic has turned everything upside down and people have asked the family for guidance.
The megxit and everything that was associated with it was relativized to a certain extent.
"Emotions are still rough, but the family is now keen to focus on what they can do for the country instead."
Will the family be reconciled? The litmus test will be the Duke of Edinburgh's 100th birthday in June, followed by the planned unveiling of the long-awaited memorial statue to William and Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, Covid, if Covid allows, at Kensington Palace.
Harry will surely attend both events. "And if the two brothers manage it," says my source, "then we have hope."
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