When the Sussexes lived in Britain, Meghan had a bitter relationship with much of the U.K. tabloid press that lingers today. They charged that the tabloids had incited racism against the duchess; they also alleged that there was institutional racism within the monarchy and that Buckingham Palace had failed to protect Meghan. In recent days, as the spotlight again intensified over the two couples, Meghan has also been the target of abuse on social media.
Additionally, Harry’s arrival at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, alone, before the death of his grandmother on Thursday had become a talking point. British media reported that King Charles III had told Harry it was not appropriate for Meghan to travel with him to Balmoral ahead of the queen’s death, as they had apparently intended.
But Saturday’s public appearance was the latest sign the royals may be repairing ties as they come together to mourn the death of their family matriarch. In his first televised speech from Buckingham Palace on Friday, Charles expressed his love for Harry and Meghan “as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
Harry is fifth in line to the throne, despite a controversial decision to step back from royal duties and move to the United States with Meghan and their two children, Archie and Lilibet.
Following the queen’s death and the accession of Charles as monarch, the two Sussex children are entitled to the titles “prince” and “princess.” That right stems from protocols dating back to King George V in 1917, which state that the children and grandchildren of the sovereign are granted the royal titles automatically. (The official palace succession list still refers to them as Master Archie and Miss Lilibet.)
Among the many jaw-dropping claims the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last year was the allegation that Buckingham Palace planned to refuse Archie the title of prince — a decision that Meghan called hurtful and suggested was driven by institutional racism within the monarchy.
In another interview, Harry said he considered the term “Megxit” — which was coined after he and his wife announced in January 2020 they would be stepping back from their roles as senior members of the royal family and dividing their time between Britain and North America — “misogynistic.”
The prince and his wife have frequently highlighted the toll online hatred and misinformation can take on one’s emotional health and mental well-being.
A spokesperson for William said he invited his brother and sister-in-law to join him and Catherine in meeting mourners and looking at tributes in Windsor.
The couples spent just over 30 minutes talking with members of the public before leaving in a car driven by William, who became Prince of Wales after his father’s accession to the throne.
“The Waleses had always been scheduled to greet well-wishers at Windsor Castle, but royal sources say the decision to invite the Sussexes was made in the eleventh hour,” royal watcher Omid Scobie wrote on Twitter. “It is, without a doubt, a significant moment in the history of the relationship between the two brothers.”
Royal watcher Camilla Tominey said that in reaching out to Harry to join him on Saturday and “set the rift aside,” William — the next in line to the throne — has shown he is living by his grandmother’s example.
She described it as “one of the most remarkable walkabouts in modern royal history” and an episode that would make the late queen proud.
“Queen Elizabeth II famously said that it was “often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change,” Tominey wrote in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.
Pannett reported from Sydney. Jennifer Hassan in London contributed to this report.