Privileges… Princes George, Charlotte and Louis will receive special treatment in Jubilee rules
Her decision, announced yesterday by palace officials, to limit the balcony appearance to working royals means there will be no place for Harry and Meghan and their children or Andrew and his daughters when the Royal Family gather at Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast and acknowledge thousands in The Mall at the culmination of the monarch’s official birthday parade, on the first day of the jubilee celebrations next month.
But Harry and Meghan have been invited to other events and are bringing their children over to Britain for the jubilee celebrations, opening up the possibility of a family reconciliation.
It will be the first time that their 11-month-old daughter Lilibet has been to Britain and the first time they have brought their son Archie, who celebrated his third birthday yesterday, over since they left the UK, first for Canada in 2019 and then a new life in the United States.
Their decision came amid little sign that the strained relations between Harry and his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William have improved. Last month Harry, 37, and
Meghan, 40, met Charles and Camilla briefly during a visit to Windsor to see the Queen on their way to the Invictus Games for injured troops in the Netherlands.
It was a start but there is understood to be still much to be done to build bridges, especially between William and Harry. But the Queen is hoping her family will heal its divisions.
Palace officials said the Queen, 96, had taken the decision to exclude her problem relatives from the balcony at Trooping the Colour “after careful consideration” and although some royal watchers treated it as a snub, many insiders saw it as an elegant solution to a thorny problem which posed the risk of crowds in The Mall booing the unpopular Sussexes and the disgraced Duke of York.
Banned… balcony appearance limited to working royals
It is the only confirmed balcony appearance for the wider Royal Family so far during a four-day double bank holiday weekend of celebrations from June 2 to 5 for the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
But there may yet be others and aides have insisted Andrew, Harry and Meghan will be welcome at other parts of the celebrations.
The most likely appearances for them would be at a national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on June 3 and when the Queen goes to the Derby at Epsom Downs on June 4.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “After careful consideration, the Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance on Thursday June 2 will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen.”
Officials said the party joining the Queen on the balcony would be Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence – who as a former career Navy officer has never been deemed to be a working royal but does accompany his wife to many engagements.
In addition, the Queen has made an exception for William and Kate’s children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – and the Wessexes’ children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
But there is no room for Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who have their own careers and do not undertake official duties on behalf of their grandmother, although they are expected to be included in other events.
The Queen has made an exception for William and Kate’s children
Andrew, 62, stepped down from public duties in 2019 and was stripped of his honorary military titles and forced no longer to use his HRH style earlier this year after a scandal over his friendship with the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
He then paid millions out of court to settle a civil sexual assault case brought by a woman who says she was trafficked around the world to sleep with him when she was 17.
The Queen’s decision to ask Andrew to escort her into the Duke of Edinburgh’s thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey in March caused consternation in the family.
Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, quit as senior working royals in March 2020 after falling out with their families and palace staff and deciding to go and live in America and make money from their royal connections.
“They remain much loved members of the family,” a palace source said, adding: “Other family members will be invited to events. We’ve always made that clear and they are likely to be public events.”
With 26 days to go yesterday, the palace released fresh details of the central events of the celebrations, which have been tailored for the Queen’s comfort.
There will be no ceremonial journey in a carriage to the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday June 3, and the 96-year-old monarch, who is struggling with mobility problems, will use a different entrance to normal to avoid having to scale the steep steps at the Great West Door.
During the service the cathedral’s Great Paul bell, the heaviest bourdon bell in the UK at more than 16 and a half tons, will be rung at a royal occasion for the first time.
It was also announced yesterday that the Queen’s 18th century Gold State Coach will appear on the streets of London for the first time since the Golden Jubilee 20 years ago when it leads the Jubilee Pageant procession on Sunday June 5 but she will not be travelling in it.
Archive film footage of her on her Coronation Day will be shown on the coach’s remodelled windows to evoke the image of the young monarch 69 years to the day earlier.
Palace sources said the Queen was planning to attend several events but may only confirm on the day depending on how she was feeling. The three most likely events during a packed schedule are thought to be Trooping the Colour, the thanksgiving service at St Paul’s, and the Derby.
She has only missed Trooping once -in 1955 when a national rail strike forced it to be cancelled. Mini versions of her official birthday parade were held at Windsor last year and in 2020 during Covid restrictions.
A palace spokesman said: “The Queen is looking forward to the weekend and will be taking part in the celebrations but her presence will not be confirmed until much nearer the time or even on the day itself.”
It will be the first time in three years that the Windsors have appeared on the balcony since the start of the pandemic.
At the Diamond Jubilee the Queen decided to focus on what was then considered the core members of a future slimmed down monarchy, standing on the palace balcony with just five others: Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry.
The Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations are less than a month away.
Her Majesty has taken steps to pre-empt speculation about one of the main elements to the celebratory weekend and, in a swift move, tidied up loose ends.
While all elements of the celebrations are equally important, one of them stands out – who will be on Buckingham Palace’s balcony following the Trooping the Colour ceremony?
Her Majesty has made it clear that while the traditional balcony appearance will go ahead, only those family members undertaking public duties and official engagements on her behalf will be there.
The decision by the Queen to exclude the Sussexes and Prince Andrew from the balcony will have been a difficult one.
They are family, and the Platinum Jubilee is as much a family celebration as it is a public one.
But always the pragmatist, the Queen’s decision to limit the balcony appearance is the right one and we salute you ma’am for making it. By doing so, the Queen has shown that neither she nor the organisers wish to have the celebratory weekend hijacked.
Limiting the number of royals on the balcony also reduces the confusion of past years, when overcrowding had many scratching their heads wondering: “Who are all these people?”
The appearance of only the working members of the royal family plays firmly into the minds of Prince Charles and Prince William, who have always believed the way forward is a slimmed-down monarchy.
With Harry, Meghan and Andrew no longer participants, the slimming process has already begun. Although I do not believe for a moment the family ever expected it to head in the direction it has.
But there is still some Jubilee uncertainty involving how much the Queen will be doing. Her officials have said decisions as to whether she will attend an event will be taken on the day.
I for one, and I am sure everyone will agree with me, want to see her at everything. But with mobility problems that is not possible and, at 96, we should not be expecting so much from her.
But we do, because we want to see her. Do what you feel you can do, ma’am. We wish you well.
- Dickie Arbiter is Queen’s former press spokesman