Following King Charles III’s first speech as monarch, royal expert Gareth Russell weighed in on why he believes the new sovereign’s mention of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was meant as an “olive branch” to the couple.
“I wasn’t surprised, I was pleased,” Russell exclusively revealed to Us Weekly on Friday, September 9, referring to Charles, 73, extending his “love” to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they “continue to build their life overseas” in California. “I think the king has made it very clear that he wants to heal the rift. Family dynamics, of course, are always complicated, but I think we can all see that there’s a great deal of pain.”
In his inaugural address, after revealing Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William and Duchess Kate‘s new titles, the sovereign specifically mentioned his younger son and daughter-in-law, who stepped down from their duties as senior royals in 2020. “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan, as they continue to build their lives overseas,” Charles stated.
The Queen Mother ‘Do Let’s Have Another Drink’ author explained that at “times of death” and “grief,” there is an opportunity to mend bridges — something he believes the king has always wanted when it comes to Harry, 37, and his wife, 41.
The father-son duo infamously had a falling out when the Invictus Games founder and Suits alum decided to step down from their full-time royal duties in January 2020 and move to the United States. In March 2021, the duke revealed that he had “two conversations” with the king about his plans to step back before “he stopped taking my calls.”
However, royal expert Russell believes that Charles has only ever wanted the best for both his sons. “The king, even when he was Prince of Wales, I think has made it very clear that he would, he would like a better relationship with the Duke of Sussex,” the North Ireland native shared. “So let’s hope that the olive branch is something that works.”
While Charles may be hoping to ease rifts within the family, it will likely have to wait until after the official mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II — who died at her Balmoral estate in Scotland on Thursday, September 8, at the age of 96.
According to Russell, the monarch will be “doing a tour of all four nations in the United Kingdom,” giving the king a few days to visit his people.
Prior to the funeral, which will be held sometime early next week, Elizabeth’s body is expected to be brought back to London to rest — presumably I’m Westminster Hall. According to Russell, the moving of the body is done so citizens of the U.K. can “file past the coffin to pay their respects.”
After the late queen’s mother, Elizabeth, passed away in 2002, over 250,000 people traveled to Westminster to pay their respects, which is just a small portion of what is expected to attend the sovereign’s own memorial.
As for the funeral itself, Russell revealed it would be a chance for “both the family and the country to express their grief from a historical perspective,” adding that it will be “unlike anything we have seeing our lifetimes.”
He shared, “Royal families from abroad are expected to attend as are representatives of dozens of foreign governments. And as part of the late queen’s last wishes, she wanted to be buried at Windsor next to her husband, Prince Philip, and also very close to her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret.”
Elizabeth, who was the longest-reigning British monarch of all time, spent 70 years on the throne prior to her death on Thursday. It’s an achievement the Popular author believes is reflected in the “smoothness” of the recent royal succession, highlighting how the royal matriarch “fought the good fight” and “finished the race” the right way.
“[What] she would consider paramount in her life is the continuity of the fact that this passed from her to her eldest son in a way that comforted people and quieted the political tensions in Britain for a while,” Russell explained. “This is a testament to the popularity and respect that she had, that this institution has been able to continue into the next generation in the way that it has.”
Reporting by Christina Garibaldi