The Queen Has a "Sensitivity" for What Prince Harry Is Going Through Because of Princess Margaret's Experiences

A royal biographer says the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, shaped how she feels about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal exit.

Diana, Princess of Wales ,Prince William,Prince Harry,Queen Elizabeth II,Princess Margaret,Trooping the Colour
(Image credit: John Shelley Collection/Avalon)
  • According to royal experts, Queen Elizabeth (opens in new tab) is very sensitive to what Prince Harry has been going through and what led to his royal exit.
  • Royal historian Robert Lacey (opens in new tab) says Harry's situation likely reminds Elizabeth of the struggles her younger sister, Princess Margaret, faced as a "royal spare."
  • Another expert, royal biographer Ingrid Seward, says the Queen made sure to leave the door open for Harry to return to working royal life if he wants to in the future.

Queen Elizabeth (opens in new tab) is very sensitive to what Prince Harry (opens in new tab) is going through with his controversial royal exit.

According to royal historian Robert Lacey (opens in new tab), even though Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle's (opens in new tab) decision to step back from royal duties feels shocking to most of us, for the Queen, it probably feels a bit like history repeating itself.

"She has a particular sensitivity to what Harry has been going through because of her closeness to Margaret and seeing the same dramas and tensions played out two generations ago," Lacey told People (opens in new tab). "The younger-sibling syndrome is an enduring problem. The system has not found a way of giving them the recognition that they need."

As anyone who has studied modern royal history (or seen Netflix's  (opens in new tab)The Crown (opens in new tab)) knows, Elizabeth's younger sister, Princess Margaret (opens in new tab), had her own share of struggles when it came to navigating life as a royal "spare." 

"The Queen will be very disappointed," Lacey said of how Harry and Meghan's royal exit (opens in new tab) is likely impacting the Queen. "Her job is to survive."

Of course, it isn't just that Elizabeth needs to survive personally—when royal experts like Lacey speak of the long-reigning monarch's emphasis on survival, what they're talking about is her dedication to making sure the monarchy itself survives (opens in new tab).

According to royal biographer Ingrid Seward (opens in new tab), the Queen won't be hung up on the exit—but she has taken very specific steps to make sure Harry and Meghan have the option of returning to the royal family's inner circle, if they want to. 

"[The Queen] won’t dwell on the exit," she told People. "She is very pragmatic. She has left the door open for Harry especially—the year of review was with Harry in mind."

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Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.