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ROBERT HARDMAN: Harry and Meghan really want to be offended everywhere


Apparently, this year's Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey was the last straw for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

According to the authors of Finding Freedom: & # 39; After the service, Meghan flew back to Canada to return to Archie. "Meg just wanted to go home," said a friend, noticing that the Duchess was emotionally hurt and exhausted. "At that point, she couldn't imagine trying to set foot in something royal again." & # 39;

"Really?" I reported about this event at the Abbey in March – and that is not my memory at all.

I will come back to the fascinating differences between the event described in the book and what I saw with my own eyes that day.

According to the new book Finding Freedom, this year's Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey (pictured) was the last straw for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

But for me, the episode perfectly shows how Harry and Meghan are hellishly offended in every situation.

Here we have a book that reflects one of the great liberation narratives of modern times, Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom.

However, finding freedom is a battle against protocol and seating plans. It is based on the perceived injustice of a pecking order that has governed and preserved the monarchy for 1000 years.

Yes, the rules are arcane and imperfect. It can be frustrating for those destined for a slow descent life. History and literature live on stories of intrigue at court – from scheming courtiers in Shakespeare to the "men in suits" in The Crown.

In the case of Harry and Meghan, the "men in suits" went out of their way to get Project Sussex up and running – and many of them happened to be in skirts.

Before the marriage, when Harry wanted to break the convention and take Meghan to Sandringham for Christmas or to the 2018 Commonwealth Service, officials made this possible.

Knowing that the couple would need top-notch advice, the Queen persuaded one of her most capable and respected former private secretaries, Samantha Cohen, to lead the new Sussexes office.

This book takes pictures of the "old guard" of the palace and paints them as untrustworthy "vipers".

Like every institution, the palace has its share of battles and position battles.

It must have been frustrating at times when a talented self-starter like the Duchess had found jagged rows of jerks at dawn telling her why things couldn't be done the way she wanted to.

Finding freedom is a battle against protocol and seating plans. It is based on the perceived injustice of a pecking order that has governed and preserved the monarchy for 1000 years

Prince Philip found it just as troublesome when his wife became queen in 1952. As one cousin put it, "They were animal to him." Still, he worked with the system to change it.

Nobody was "animal" for Harry and Meghan.

Yes, there was tension when the couple fought with the system. For example, Harry's 2016 statement, in which the media was hit in the middle of the Prince of Wales golf tour, caused dismay – but not just in the palace.

The purpose of a royal tour is to promote Britain. Harry might have considered his own situation more important. The real rudeness, however, was not Prince Charles, but the Federal Foreign Office, which organizes these diplomatic missions.

Similarly, the couple spent months planning their Sussex Royal website without consulting the palace and government officials responsible for monitoring the use of the word "royal" under 19th century laws.

These employees were not "vipers". They did their job.

As for this "bruise" service on Commonwealth Day, you don't have to buy Finding Freedom to make a decision. It's all on the internet.

If Harry had a slightly wistful look on him at times, that was to be expected. He had attended state events in the abbey since childhood, especially the heartbreaking farewell to his mother in 1997. Now he bowed out of royal life here. Of course, he looked thoughtful.

However, the Duchess was beaming.

According to the book, however, she was deeply wounded by the "machinations" of officials who, unlike "earlier years", ensured that the couple had been excluded from the royal procession when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had not .

In fact, the Sussexes had only been part of the procession once – in 2019.

On Commonwealth Day, the organizers put the Cambridges in procession, but not the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan weren't happy, but neither were palace officials or William and Kate who could see what it might look like

On Commonwealth Day, the organizers put the Cambridges in procession, but not the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan weren't happy, but neither were palace officials or William and Kate who could see what it might look like

The event is not organized by the palace, but by the Royal Commonwealth Society, which wants to change the order every year.

In 2020, the organizers put the Cambridges in the procession, but not the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan weren't happy, but neither were palace officials or William and Kate who could see what it might look like.

To avert the headlines from Harry and Meghan, the Cambridges agreed to miss the procession too.

However, this book sticks to the "Stups" narrative: "If the appearance was anything to be seen, the Cambridges were unsatisfied with the decision."

While Harry and Meghan greeted William and Kate with a smile, the Cambridges showed little reaction. . . For the minutes before the Queen's arrival, William and Kate sat with their backs to the couple, just turning to chat with Prince Edward and Sophie. & # 39;

I can only suggest that you look at these "nudges" with your own eyes. Kate sat in front of Meghan and at the other end of the row. With 2,000 Abbey guests, live BBC1 cameras, and the media nearby, the Duchess of Cambridge hardly had a moment to turn around and scream small talk.

The Sussexes may want to paint all of this as a struggle between an advanced force for good and common, fuddy-duddy Jobsworths. Sometimes they can have a point. So far, the overarching theme of this book has not been an injustice. It's annoying.

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