Prince Harry and Meghan Markle “Ran into a Brick Wall” Attempting to “Mend Fences” with the Royal Family, Says Royal Expert

Apparently their recent visit to the U.K. was not what they hoped it would be.

Prince William Kate Middleton Meghan Markle Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, the question burning on every royal follower’s mind was Will they or won’t they?—as in, will the Sussexes return to Prince Harry’s home country for his grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations?

Now that that answer is clear—spoiler alert: they did—a new question is emerging: Did they or didn’t they? We know that the Sussexes—Harry, wife Meghan Markle, and their two kids Archie and Lili—spent no time in public interacting with the Cambridges (Harry’s brother Prince William, wife Kate Middleton, and their three kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis). But did they spend any time together privately, despite the busyness of the weekend?

The answer, unfortunately, seems to be a firm no. Though royal expert Christopher Andersen, author of Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan (opens in new tab), says the weekend was “a glorious celebration of the Queen as a person and of the monarchy,” Harry and Meghan’s attempt to “mend fences” with other members of the royal family proved unsuccessful, as the pair were “sidelined,” according to Us Weekly.

On Thursday, both couples attended Trooping the Colour, the Cambridges very outfront in the day’s festivities, appearing in the parade either on horseback (William) or in the carriage procession (Kate and the three kids), and, later, all five appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony. The Sussexes, along with other non-working royals, watched the events from the Major General’s Office.

On Friday, both couples attended the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where “senior members of the royal family were seated in the front row and non-senior members in the second row,” a source told Us Weekly, with a seating arrangement decided upon by the Palace in order “to avoid any unwanted attention” on the two couples.

The Sussexes weren’t seen in public for the rest of the Jubilee weekend, and Page Six reports they flew back home to California early Sunday.

Before traveling to the U.K., Andersen told Us Weekly that Harry and Meghan were “hopeful” to make strides in their relationships with other members of the royal family.

“They went there hoping to mend fences and ran into a brick wall,” he says. “I’m sure they expected to have a warmer welcome than what they received.”

Saturday marked a first birthday party for baby Lilibet Diana, named in honor of the Queen’s familial nickname and Harry’s late mother. Though it was already established that the Cambridges wouldn’t be able to attend because of a pre-planned visit to Wales that day, “William and Kate made no effort at all to introduce Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis to [Lili],” Andersen tells Us Weekly, adding there is “a lot of tension” between the two couples. “As far as I know, nobody believes they spoke [to one another].”

However, all was not lost—according to Us Weekly, Harry and Meghan took the kids to Windsor Castle, and the Queen “thinks they’re adorable and gave Lili and Archie gifts.” Some family members were able to attend the lowkey garden party for Lili, including cousins Zara and Mike Tindall and their three kids, and cousin Peter Phillips and his two kids.

“It was a lovely do and had everything you’d expect from a child’s birthday party,” a source told OK!. “But there was no formal entertainment. The idea was for it to be very relaxed and casual, with people free to pop in and out as they wished.”

After such high hopes for a brother-to-brother reunion this past weekend, what happened?

“I think what it boils down to is not only what’s happened in the recent past,” Andersen says, referencing Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, but also “the royal family is terrified about what’s going to be contained in the book Harry is going to be publishing at the end of this year.”

Rachel Burchfield
Contributing Royal Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.