Americans see Harry led by his wife and Brand Meghan, writes MICHAEL COLE


The very public and acrimonious cutting of ties with Meghan and Harry is far more damaging to the Royal Family than it is to the Sussexes in their self-imposed, pampered exile in California.

It’s dangerous, too, at a time when the stresses on the monarchy are going to be greater than at any time since the death of Princess Diana more than 25 years ago. The extended hospital stay of Prince Philip says what everyone knows though few say, that the 73-year royal partnership cannot last for ever and the end of the Queen’s reign must also be contemplated.

And, crucially, what comes after.

It is never a good time for cracks to appear in the royal facade. But this one, caused by the stripping of the Sussexes’ royal roles, with William and Harry now bitterly divided, could hardly be worse.

This public spat will only encourage the increasingly strident voices that question the role of royalty in the 21st century, asking whether, post-Covid, the time might be right to junk the whole show and find a new way of ordering our affairs and plotting our national destiny.

A constitutional monarchy suits the British temperament. It has served this country well throughout the Queen’s record-breaking reign. But change is coming and everything will be different when the only monarch most of us have ever known completes her unrivalled record of service to Britain and a new reign begins.

Harry and Meghan

The stripping of the Sussexes’ royal roles has caused considerable damage to the royal facade (Image: LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

With health and good luck the Queen, 95 in April, will match or even exceed her mother’s 101 years. She has presided over the end of Empire and transformation of the Commonwealth with matchless skill and grace.

No one could have done more than the Queen to hand over her throne in good order. But there are some things beyond her control.

They must now be causing her concern, even as she tries to ensure a smooth transition to secure the House of Windsor’s future. The republican tide in Australia will remain an undercurrent while the Queen remains alive. But pressure for a head of state will grow immediately after Australia has paid tribute to the Queen at her state funeral.

If anything, New Zealand is ahead of its neighbour in feeling that the time is right to cut ties with the mother country.

Even ever-loyal Canada, where the bilingual Queen has been a unifying force in a vast country where francophone Quebec is never far from demanding independence, has fallen out of love with the monarchy.


With health and good luck the Queen will match or even exceed her mother’s 101 years (Image: Getty)

It follows the resignation of the Queen’s representative as Governor General, Canadian sportswoman Julie Payette, 57, accused of aggressive and bullying behaviour.

Now only 50 per cent of Canadians favour the monarchy, a figure not helped by the Prince Andrew/Jeffrey Epstein scandal, even before the Meghan and Harry debacle.

But those who say – as Princess Diana did in her interview with Martin Bashir – that Charles should relinquish the throne in favour of William are wasting their breath. Charles is determined to be king with a full-blown coronation, even though he will be the oldest monarch to ascend the throne.

Charles will doubtless hope to emulate his great-great-grandfather Edward VII, whose short reign from 1901 to 1910 was fondly remembered as the golden Edwardian era.

But the 21st century is a far more uncertain age and Barbados is unlikely to be the only one of the Queen’s remaining overseas realms to contemplate becoming a republic.

Far more serious is the threat of Scottish independence or a united Ireland, brought into sharp focus by this year’s centenary of the Irish Free State and the concomitant establishment of the province of Northern Ireland.


The Sussexes will know better than to badmouth the royal family during their Oprah interview (Image: EDDIE MULHOLLAND AFP)

Both would be bitter pills for the Queen and impossible to swallow.

The Queen has always been very keen to keep the monarchy in tune with the times and that is why this ugly severance with the Sussexes is so unwise.

Ways should have been found to keep them within the royal compound, even semi-detached. Instead, an alternative court has now been set up 6,000 miles away, over which Buckingham Palace has no influence, let alone control. That’s why it is such a serious miscalculation.

It was predictable that some royal commentators would gleefully construct a pillory for Harry and Meghan, and enjoy throwing the rotten vegetables that their “right-on” pronouncements so richly deserve.

There is no doubt either that many Americans see that Harry is led by his older wife, with her focus on what is good for Brand Meghan and her future profile, be it as an ultra-woke campaigner or by standing for public office, in California or on the national stage.

It is her royal status that has made her feted among America’s famous and influential.

But Harry and Meghan had much to offer the Royal Family and had scored numerous successes before small clouds on the horizon developed into storms that skilful navigation could have avoided.

The trauma of Harry’s mother’s death, endured at the age of 12, should have been given more weight by the Queen’s advisers before this damaging schism in the Royal Family was permitted to occur.

Every consideration should have been given to Harry, and his exemplary service in the Army, before the portcullis was brought down on his royal role and the drawbridge of estrangement drawn up.

If Harry or his wife said anything disrespectful to the Queen or unkind about his brother William during the recording of The Meghan and Harry Show with Oprah Winfrey, they would have made a bad mistake. They are cleverer than that.

Despite the hype, it will be less than a “tell-all” interview. Least said, soonest mended. Reconciliation must begin some time and the sooner the better.

Far better to use that interview to start the healing process.


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