Warm holiday wishes? Prince Harry felt slighted by Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of his family during the 2019 Christmas broadcast after his photo was removed from the table while filming, royal author Christopher Andersen exclusively told Us Weekly.
Every year, the queen, 95, gives an address to the Commonwealth while sitting at a desk at Windsor Castle covered in photos of her loved ones. In 2018, Harry, 37, and wife Meghan Markle made the cut, but that was not the case the next year.
“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,” the Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan author told Us on Tuesday, November 30. “In 2018, she sat there in front of a Christmas tree. She gave her Christmas address and there were the family photos. … Including [Harry’s son] Archie and Megan and Harry, very prominently displayed.”
Things changed in 2019, as Harry and Meghan geared up to take step back from their royal duties and leave the country. (They announced their exit as senior royals in January 2020.)
“The queen hasn’t decided what to do about it [amid the talks of Harry leaving]. There’s a point at which — just before she gives a speech to the director on set — [she is] asked her which photographs she wants in the shot next to her,” 72-year-old journalist explained, claiming that the queen said, “We won’t be needing that one” while pointing to a photo of the Sussex family.
As a result, the snap of Harry, Meghan and Archie, now 2, was “put aside [and] they were not in the broadcast,” Andersen said. “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.” Prince Charles and wife Duchess Camilla were also featured.
Being pushed out of the special photo display seemingly rubbed the former pilot the wrong way after being a part of the tradition for so many years.
“I think that was a hurtful [for him to see]. A friend of Harry’s told me that he felt that he was being erased in a sense from the family,” the Game of Crowns author told Us. “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.”
Andersen added that it appeared to be the last straw for Harry and his wife when deciding what they would do next. “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,” he said.
The Christmas broadcast marked the first, but not the last time, that Harry would be left out of a royal photo ahead of his departure and relocation to Canada in early 2020. (He and Meghan permanently moved to California in early 2021 where they now live with their two children, having welcomed daughter Lili in June.)
When it came time for her 2020 Christmas address, the monarch opted to have only a photo of her husband, Philip, beside her as she spoke about hope after a hard year amid the COVID-19 crisis. Philip has since died, having passed away in April at age 99.
Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan is now available for purchase.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi