They haven’t been together as a family since their controversial departure in 2020, but now it seems that Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle are gearing up to head back to the UK to face the royals later this year.
Last week, Harry’s lawyer released a statement asking the UK government to provide him with police protection when he, Meghan and their children, Archie, two, and seven-month-old Lilibet, visit the UK – having lost their taxpayer-funded security when they stepped back as royals nearly two years ago.
The statement suggests the couple – who married in 2018 – are planning to return to the UK this year, possibly for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. Reports last week also claimed that Prince Charles, 73, had invited the couple to visit, so he could meet his grandchildren and the Queen, 95 – who spent time in hospital in December with health issues – could see her great grandchildren.
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Tensions reached boiling point last year, after Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, gave a sensational interview with Oprah Winfrey, where they accused the royals of racism and of neglecting Meghan’s struggling mental health – which was said to have left Harry’s brother Prince William “furious”.
It also emerged that Harry is writing a tell-all memoir about his life in the royal family, something the royals are said to be “anxious” about, given the previous bombshells.
The couple’s return will be yet another dramatic event in what’s already been a tumultuous year for the Queen. Earlier this month, Prince Andrew’s attempt to get sexual assault claims against him thrown out failed, and he’s set to head to court later this year for a showdown with Virginia Giuffre, who accuses him of having sex with her three times when she was 17, allegations he denies. As a result, Andrew, 61, was stripped of his HRH titles, patronages and military affiliations, and was said to be selling his multi-million pound ski chalet to pay for legal costs after the Queen refused to foot the bill.
And while the UK is excitedly gearing up for the Queen’s four-day Platinum Jubilee this June, royal experts have said that the event threatens to be overshadowed by Andrew’s court hearing in the autumn – the same time Harry’s book is set to be released.
Palace insider and author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story, Duncan Larcombe, tells Closer, “It’s likely Harry and Meghan are planning to come over for the Jubilee in June, but they could come even sooner, as Harry is due to be in The Hague in the Netherlands in April for the Invictus Games. Either way, it seems that this year Harry and Meghan will return to British soil and face the family they have so publicly criticised. It’ll definitely be a tense reunion.
“Hopefully, though, the trip could ease some tensions. I imagine with all that’s going on for the royal family, more stress with Harry and Meghan would be the last thing they want. It could potentially be a fresh start for them all.”
Since leaving the UK, Harry and Meghan have made a new life for themselves in California, where they live in a sprawling £11m mansion, and have thrown themselves into the celebrity lifestyle – doing interviews with Ellen Degeneres and James Corden, as well as Oprah.
But recent reports have claimed that the couple – who have also signed multi-million pound deals with streaming giants Netflix, Spotify and Apple TV – have been making “private enquiries” about selling their home and moving elsewhere.
It would be the couple’s fifth move – having lived at Kensington Palace and then Frogmore Cottage in the UK, briefly in Canada, then onto LA, where they rented actor Tyler Perry’s £13m home before buying their current house.
Duncan – who has spent time with Harry on numerous royal tours and events over the past decade – says, “It’s interesting if they’re looking to relocate again. Harry hasn’t moved around a lot during his life, apart from spending time in the army in Afghanistan, although of course, the royals don’t move around!
“But he and Meghan have moved constantly throughout his relationship, and haven’t lived anywhere for very long. If the reports are true and they’re not happy in their nine-bedroom LA mansion, then I think that’s a big red flag in terms of how happy they are in their lives, and as a couple.
“People tend to move a lot when they’re looking for something. It could be that he’s chasing happiness with Meghan, but never finding it. They’ve moved a lot as a couple, and also with young kids... usually, that’s the last thing you’d want to do.”
While Meghan hasn’t returned to the UK since starting their new life in California, Harry made two brief trips home last year – once for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral last April and again in July for the unveiling of his late mother Princess Diana’s statue at Kensington Palace.
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While things have reportedly been strained between Harry and William for years, the brothers were seen casually chatting and even briefly smiling.
But Duncan now says that Harry and Meghan’s upcoming return to the UK will be even more intense as, not only will it be both him and Meghan, but it’ll be ahead of Harry’s upcoming memoir.
He adds, “I imagine Harry and Meghan’s return will be a tense one – so much has gone on since Meghan was last here, and relationships have broken down. The news of Harry’s memoir caused a lot of upset and anger – with him visiting only months before its intended release, I imagine it’ll be a bit of an elephant in the room. That book has the potential to do damage. I think it’ll be particularly tough for Harry. I imagine he’ll feel very torn.”