Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be invited to the King’s Coronation this spring, it can be revealed. A detailed plan is underway to ensure the couple do not overshadow the proceedings in any way, a Whitehall source said, after Harry levelled allegations and criticism at the Royal Family in his memoir, Spare. “They’re on the list and planning is well underway to make sure the proceedings run as smooth as possible – without any drama”, they said.
Officials especially want to reduce the chance of Harry and Prince William being seen in public together, and are organising seating arrangements in Westminster Abbey to avoid the brothers being pictured together.
Invitations to the Westminster Abbey service will be sent out in the next few weeks after the final guest list is confirmed, the insider said. But they confirmed Harry and Meghan are currently on the 2,000-strong list, alongside royals – both domestic and foreign, dignitaries and world leaders.
The Palace is currently working in close consultation with No10 and the Foreign Office to finalise the guest list.
While the invites are being prepared to be sent out later this month, the Sussexes won’t have long to make their minds up on whether they’re going to make the trip across the pond, as RSVPs are understood to be wanted by the start of April.
Royal commentator Afua Hagan is adamant Harry will make the effort to appear, as he has his heart set on reconciling with his family. She said: “Attending the Coronation is the first step on the road to reconciliation.”
Harry and Meghan’s attendance at the Coronation will be meticulously crafted, insiders say, with organisers using the plans for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as a blueprint to ensure no awkward encounters – such as a public reunion with William and Kate – is avoided.
Their arrival at the Abbey is set to mirror that of the service at St Paul’s Cathedral last June, where they arrive in a private car alone, and sit on the opposite side of the aisle to the Prince and Princess of Wales.
This seating plan at the event is said to have been crafted by the late Queen to ensure working members of the Royal Family were given precedence. It saw Harry and Meghan seated in the second row next to those lower down in the line of succession, such as Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.
Harry and Meghan’s position on the aisle will also be well thought out to ensure the brothers are not captured in any shots together to avoid speculation over their relationship overshadowing the event.
“The focus will be on the vertical line of succession,” said royal historian Cindy McCreery. “Precedence will be given to William, Kate, George and his siblings.”
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Harry and Meghan’s attendance at the Coronation will mark just one step on the couple’s road to carve out a new brand for themselves – one which no longer involves public attacks against the Royal Family.
They have repeatedly made personal claims about the Royal Family following their decision to step down as senior members of the Royal Family at the start of 2020.
Their infamous sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021 was stricken with explosive claims, and the pair have only built on this with their recent Netflix docu-series, Harry’s memoir and his promotional interviews.
But Harry’s book is said to be the last of the Sussexes’ “look-back projects”, with the Duke telling ITV’s Tom Bradby that “now we can focus on looking forward, and I’m excited about that”.
Commentators certainly agree, and believe that the couple will look to carve out a new brand for themselves away from the drama of their rift with the Royal Family.
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Longstanding royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams believes political causes are in Meghan’s sights, but Ms Hagan said the couple are set to shift towards look-forward projects.
These will be “less about what happened to them before” and more about their new content – such as supporting charitable causes and building Archewell.
Future interviews will focus on these new projects, she said, and there won’t be any need to talk about the Royal Family in the way they have done in the past.
But she noted that questions about their relationship with the Royal Family are likely to still crop up, as “what interviewer wouldn’t ask them?” – but she doesn’t believe Harry and Meghan will forthcoming with that information as they recognise people “are reaching saturation point” with the number of attacks.
Ms Hagan said it was vital for Harry and Meghan to bury the hatchet and “get on with their lives”, adding: “They can’t keep going over and over and over the past forever. It’s just going to be painful.”
But PR expert Shannon Peerless doesn’t think the Sussexes will ever be able to escape the interest surrounding their relationship with the Royal Family.
She said: “Whilst the drama may die down for Harry and Meghan in the not-too-distant future, the Royal feud will unfortunately follow them around for years and years to come.
“Even if a reconciliation occurs, which it certainly could, the spotlight will be so heavily focused on them all that the rumour mill will never be far from churning into gear again.”
Meghan and Harry’s popularity has taken a beating since they quit as senior members of the Royal Family and the Duke’s memoir has sent their ratings down even further, according to YouGov’s Royal Family opinion tracker.
Just two months before their decision to step back, Harry had a net positive rating of 51 per cent, this fell to 20 per cent immediately after Megxit, -25 after the Oprah interview, and most recently it plummeted to -44.
Meghan’s popularity has taken a similar hit. In November 2019 she had a net positivity of 20 per cent, which dropped to -11 in January 2020 and now stands at -46.
Americans are also getting tired of the couple’s repeated attacks on the Firm but royal historian Marlene Koenig said informally changing their names is essential to their rebranding.
She suggested that the couple could mirror the approach taken by King Edward VIII following his abdication and exile to France with wife Wallis Simpson. Though he later took the title of the Duke of Windsor, he largely signed off as Edward Windsor.
Ms Koenig said: “It would make much more sense and take away tension. If they would use for example, Harry and Megan Sussex, Harry and Megan Mountbatten Windsor.”
If Harry and Meghan decided to take such an approach on their own, it would show the UK and the Firm that they are separating their royal status and are prepared to “stop cashing in” on their ties to the Royal Family, she said.
The royal historian added: “They need to be more than just their titles and move beyond using their connections to establish a new life in America.”