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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and their children were conspicuous by their absence from television screens Thursday, as they were omitted from the opening ceremony of the queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in what looked like a determined effort at narrative-control by Buckingham Palace.
Official royal sources told the media that Harry and Meghan and their family were ensconced with other members of the royal family in the Major General’s Office, a large ceremonial room with a prime view of the ceremony, known as Trooping the Color, which marks the queen’s official birthday.
The Sussexes were not seen either arriving or departing the ceremony, although Meghan was snapped watching the ceremony through a window. She appeared to be wearing a navy dress and wide-brimmed hat. In photos published by The Daily Mail, Meghan was seen jocularly putting her fingers to her lips to shush Zara’s daughter Mia Tindall. Harry was photographed talking to the Duke of Kent.
The California-based couple were said to have arrived discreetly at Horse Guards Parade in London by car with their children, in contrast to some other members of the family who arrived publicly in horse-drawn carriages.
Kate Middleton and her three children arrived and departed the parade ground to great fanfare in a horse drawn carriage with Camilla Parker Bowles. Kate’s husband Prince William was on the actual parade ground with his father his Prince Charles. Prince William and Kate had said earlier on twitter that they were “looking forward to celebrating” the queen’s platinum jubilee her.
Prince George was seen at the window of the Major General’s office, as was Kate, though it appeared the Sussexes watched the ceremony on television inside the room, largely keeping themselves and their children well away from the windows.
The bizarre erasure of the Sussexes from Thursday’s iconography represented yet another twist in the convoluted and acrimonious relationship between the Sussexes and the Windsors that has now dominated the royal story for more than two years since Harry and Megan quit the royal family and moved to America.
The queen had previously said that Harry and Meghan would not be able to join her on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, saying this privilege would be reserved only for working members of the royal family. However, late Wednesday night it was announced that Harry and Meghan and the children would attend the spectacular display of pomp and ceremony in the ceremonial military room, where Kate Middleton would also be along with Camilla, and Prince Edward and his wife his, Sophie.
It is believed to be the first time that Meghan and Kate have been in the same room since the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, when William and Kate almost completely ignored Harry and Meghan.
The revelation that they would be gathering with Kate Middleton in this space led many observers to assume that the couple would formally appear with other royals, but this notably failed to happen, in what looked like a heavy-handed attempt by Buckingham Palace to control optics and avoid commentary about the body language relationship between Harry and Meghan and Kate.
Shortly after 12 noon, the queen emerged on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to receive a royal salute from her troops. Her Majesty, who has been experiencing mobility problems, used a stick but otherwise walked unaided and seemed in good spirits.
She then went back into the palace before re-emerging with a full complement of working royals, including Kate, William and their children to observe a six minute flypast of 70 aircraft, one for each of her years on the throne. The queen beamed with joy as the famous RAF acrobatic team, the Red Arrows, painted the skies red, white and blue.
She was expected to appear again Thursday evening to light the first of a chain of jubilee beacons.
Meghan and Harry are on their first joint visit to the UK since they quit royal life and moved to America, having landed in London on Wednesday afternoon, where they were met by a royal car sent by the queen to pick them up, interpreted by some as a conciliatory gesture.
At least two protesters, one of whom was wearing a mock crown, were dragged away by police after they attempted to interrupt the opening minutes of the queen’s birthday parade. They leaped out of the crowd and in front of red-coated soldiers marching down London’s principal ceremonial street, The Mall, shortly after the beginning of the proceedings at 10 am One wore a crown and the other held a sign which appeared to be agitating for a redistribution of royal land.
The solders did not break step and one of the protesters came close to being trampled.
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