Prince Harry Felt "Erased" After The Queen Excluded Him and Meghan Markle From Christmas Photo Display, Expert Says

Eek.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Harry attend at the annual Chelsea Flower show at Royal Hospital Chelsea
(Image credit: Getty/WPA Pool/Pool)

In the royal family, no PR stone is left unturned. So when a decision is made, optics-wise, it almost always means something—whether that's an outfit choice or what photos to display on one's desk.

So when the Queen decided not to have a photo of Prince Harry, his wife Meghan Markle and their son Archie on the set for her Christmas broadcast in 2019, it was anything but a simple oversight.

"I think this is a turning point. There are all sorts of subtle messages that are conveyed in this kind of soap opera that goes on," royal biographer Christopher Andersen told Us Weekly. "In 2018, she sat there in front of a Christmas tree. She gave her Christmas address and there were the family photos. … Including Archie and Meghan and Harry, very prominently displayed." [Note: Markle was only pregnant with Archie at Christmas 2018, so I assume Andersen meant there was a picture of her displayed, rather than of her unborn baby.]

But in late 2019, relations were starting to sour between the Sussexes and the rest of the family, and the couple announced their exit from their roles as senior royals in January 2020.

At Christmas 2019, "the Queen hasn’t decided what to do about it [amid the talks of Harry leaving]," Andersen said. "There’s a point at which—just before she gives a speech to the director on set—[she is] asked which photographs she wants in the shot next to her." Looking at a photo of the Sussexes, she apparently said, "We won’t be needing that one."

The message was clear. "So there you had, in photographs right next to the Queen, the people that clearly were most important to her. The Cambridges, all of them. Her [father], King George VI, and [Prince] Philip," Andersen added.

It's not particularly surprising that Prince Harry didn't take it well. "I think that was hurtful [for him to see]," the author explained. "A friend of Harry’s told me that he felt that he was being erased in a sense from the family. And it was right after that, that they made their [decision to leave the U.K.]. I think that was one of the things that prompted them to issue the statement that they were stepping back from royal [life for a] full-time real life.

"It seems very subtle, but when you think about it, when somebody cuts you out of the family album, so to speak, it’s a pretty strong message." You don't say.

Iris Goldsztajn
Iris Goldsztajn

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author whose work has appeared in InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, HelloGiggles, SheKnows, Metro, Fabulous, Nicki Swift, POPSUGAR, Alma and more. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.