Meghan Markle’s return: ‘Tensions are high but Kate Middleton will heal the rift’

With Harry and Meghan's return to the UK seeming increasingly likely, royal expert Katie Nicholl says that when they finally come face to face with the Cambridges, Kate will play her most important role yet as mediator

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by Lily Smith & Sophie Cockerham |

They left the royal family in complete turmoil following their shock departure in April 2020 – but reports are growing that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are gearing up for a return to the UK this year, ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.

Last month, Harry, 37, filed a claim for a judicial review against a Home Office decision not to allow him to personally pay for police protection for himself and his family while in the UK.

And further reports claimed that Prince Charles, 73, had extended an invite to his son and daughter-in-law to visit the UK and stay at his home, so that he could meet his granddaughter – seven-month-old Lilibet – and spend time with grandson Archie, two.

It’s one of the first hints of thawing relations between The Firm and Harry and Meghan, after the couple sent shockwaves through the Palace with a number of scathing interviews about them last year.

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Louise and Jamie Redknapp

They were the British A-list couple that we thought would last but the world was stunned in July 2017 when Louise and Jamie Redknapp confirmed they'd split after 19 years together. Months later Louise opened up about the end of her marriage and following the end of the Redknapp marriage, it was reported that celebrities were refusing to sign up to the BBC show because of the Strictly curse.

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Charles – here with wife Camilla – hopes to meet his grandaughter ©Getty Images

News of the impending visit comes as the legal scandal surrounding Prince Andrew – who last month had his attempt at dismissing Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit against him for sexual abuse – which he denies – thrown out of court – heaped more misery on the Queen. Last week, it emerged he’d insisted on a jury trial, meaning he’ll likely appear in court in the autumn to deny the charges.

Now royal biographer and expert Katie Nicholl – who wrote Kate’s biography, The Future Queen – tells Closer a visit from Harry and Meghan could “soften” the feud with the royals.

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The Monarch will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee in June ©Getty Images

She says, “It’s already been a crisis year for the royal family, with all that’s going on with Prince Andrew. And it couldn’t be worse timing. I know the Queen was really keen to put on a united front and to celebrate the royal family this year, for the Jubilee. But it’s proving very hard to do that with all that’s gone on.

“Having the Sussexes back in the fold, in whatever capacity, even just for the attendance, would be really positive for the royals. Not only for the image, but for the family itself. While I hear that tensions are still very high between Harry and Meghan and the royals, I think there are discussions about how to soften things this year.”

Last year, Harry and Meghan, 40, shocked viewers around the world when they unleashed criticism on the royal family – stating in their infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey how a member of the family had had “concerns and conversations about how dark” their now two-year-old son Archie’s skin would be when he was born. Meghan also said she was told that, although she begged for help after contemplating suicide, “I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

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Kate is likely to be a mediator between William and Harry ©Getty Images

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In particular, Meghan took shots at sister-in-law Kate Middleton, 40, and said, “A few days before the wedding [to Prince Harry], she was upset about the flower girl dresses, and it made me cry and it really hurt my feelings.”

Meanwhile, the couple’s biography, Finding Freedom, – which it recently emerged they’d colluded with authors on – said that Harry was hurt when William seemingly warned him about dating Meghan, and also said that Kate had “not shown much interest” in getting to know Meghan.

William, 39, was said to be “furious” over Harry and Meghan’s comments on Oprah, with him snapping back at a reporter days later, “We’re very much not a racist family.”

Despite the rift reportedly reaching fever pitch, Harry came face to face with William and Kate at his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral last April – where, although it looked strained, the brothers seemed to chat casually, with Kate appearing to have brought them together.

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And now Katie says that while the reunion of Harry and Meghan and the Cambridges later this year will no doubt be tense and dramatic, Kate will be a key player in keeping the peace.

Katie says, “Harry and Meghan’s comments deeply, deeply hurt William, and William can be stubborn and emotional. While Kate was hurt too, she has always been a real peacemaker. She values family and has been really close with Harry over the years.

“There will no doubt be awkward conversations and briefings and discussions on how to handle Harry and Meghan’s return. Who knows whether they’ll play a part in the Jubilee? But I believe Kate will be a real key player in making peace with Harry and Meghan, even if it’s for show and just for the Jubilee. Tensions are high but Kate will do what she can to heal the rift. I know this year Kate and William – and Harry and Meghan too – will want to make things as easy as possible for the Queen.”

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With the Queen, 95, celebrating a special year – and also struggling with health issues towards the end of 2021 – Katie adds that Harry has a history of lashing out when emotional, and will be making an effort to keep things calm this year.

Katie says, “Whether Harry has regrets or not, I don’t know, but what I do know is that he has a history of lashing out at the establishment before. He’s talked about his 'accident of birth' and the 'burden of the crown'. He’s been critical in the past, but then goes quiet. I think since last year he’s paused and reflected. And he’s realised how much last year took a toll on his grandmother, and doesn’t want to cause any more upset, so is laying low for now.”

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