Concern has grown for the Queen after she spent a night in a London hospital, where she was said to have had “preliminary investigations”.
Following advice from doctors to “rest for a few days”, the 95-year-old monarch had to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland. Last week, there was fresh worry when it was revealed she would “regretfully” not be attending Monday’s COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.
It follows pictures of Her Majesty using a walking stick for the first time in her 69-year reign, the longest in British history, at Westminster Abbey last month and reports she was ordered to quit horse-riding.
A statement from the Palace revealed the grandmother of eight – who is conducting some duties via video calls – remains in “good spirits”, but there have been increasing fears that she looks “frail’ following husband Prince Philip’s death in April. One worried supporter said, “She has been losing weight and looks a little frail”, while others encouraged her to “take it easy” and “rest up”.
Now, Paul Burrell, who worked as a footman for the Queen and then as a butler for Princess Diana, tells Closer it’s time for the monarch to take a break – and insists her grandson Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle must end their feud with the royals and step in to help.
Check out: 9 times Meghan Markle dressed like Princess Diana
All The Times Meghan Markle Dressed Like Princess Diana
The glittering Roland Mouret gown worn by Meghan at the premiere of Cirque du Soleil's Totem show was reminiscent of a Catherine Walker dress Princess Diana wore in 1990.
Paul says, “The Queen is an incredibly strong woman and I believe she’ll want to work until the end of her life. She always told me that her roles as Queen and a grandmother are the most important things to her. At 95, she’s doing great – but she can’t do what she used to do. She needs to put her health first and limit her workload.
“We’ve seen recently that her family have rallied around her to support her and take on more. Kate and William have been thriving – and their work will be a huge support and relief to the Queen. And we’ve seen other members of the family step up to take on more engagements in recent weeks, too. Harry and Meghan’s absence from ‘the firm’ is more significant than ever.”
Recently, the royals have been out in full force. Prince William, 39, and Kate Middleton, 39, have been backing a number of causes, such as the Earthshot Prize and Taking Action on Addiction. Prince Edward spoke at the launch of the Commonwealth Games, his wife, Sophie Wessex, represented the monarchy at farming events, while Princess Eugenie visited an art exhibition by survivors of modern slavery.
Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, however, stepped back as senior royals and moved to the US last year, before giving interviews with devastating claims of racism within the royal family and a lack of support for Meghan as she struggled with her mental health. The couple have sparked further controversy by signing a series of big-money deals for tell-all books and TV documentaries.
Paul says, “Their betrayal of the royals is more noticeable now than ever. With everyone stepping up to support the Queen, Harry and Meghan would have been an incredible help, but they’re not – they’re in America. They should be here right now, supporting his elderly grandmother.
“I’d find it unfathomable if news of the Queen’s hospital admission wouldn’t have hit Harry and Meghan hard. It must have made them both realise what they’ve done, how far away they are, and the dilemma they are faced with – they are not only denying themselves time with her but denying their children, Archie and Lilibet, time with their great-grandmother.”
Harry made a brief return for Prince Philip’s funeral – the first time since his departure to America. At the time, he described the UK as a “trigger” for his mental health, and said he feels “tense” and “hunted” here.
He later returned for the unveiling of a statue of his late mother, Princess Diana, but again only for a few days and did not bring his children to spend time with the Queen. Archie, two, has only met his great-grandmother a few times, while four-month-old Lilibet, whose name is derived from the Queen’s nickname, has never met her.
And Paul says now Harry must act before it’s too late. He adds, “I have no doubt Harry and Meghan will have considered the fact she may not have much time left. It’s not too late for Harry to return to the UK to support her and be with her.
“They must act now to help the Queen, before it’s too late and they miss out on precious time with her – but I suspect they won’t. I think, years later, they’ll realise what they’ve done, but I can’t see it being anytime soon.”
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‘Harry should be putting pressure on Netflix not to exploit Diana’
The hit Netflix show depicting the history of the royal family is in the middle of filming its fifth series. And, last week, it emerged The Crown will cover the controversial 1995 BBC Panorama interview between Princess Diana and Martin Bashir, which has sparked controversy among fans.
Two years before her death, Diana gave an interview to the BBC journalist, in which she spoke candidly about her lonely marriage to Prince Charles, saying in a nod to his love for now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Following an inquiry, a report was issued in May 2021 acknowledging the BBC had covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by Bashir to secure the interview – which both the BBC and Bashir apologised for this year. The inquiry led to her elder son Prince William calling for the interview to “never be aired again”, adding it had “contributed significantly” to his mother’s “fear, paranoia, and isolation”. Some fans deemed producers’ decision to cover the interview “insensitive”, saying, “Netflix has no moral compass,” while others said “The Crown should include Bashir’s interview – it’s an integral part of Diana’s story”.
Netflix – which makes The Crown – is Harry and Meghan’s employers, after they announced a multimillion pound deal with the streaming service.
Paul says, “Harry should be putting pressure on Netflix and The Crown not to do the episode and not to exploit Diana. It covers a really dark time in her life and is disrespectful to William. Harry should be supporting his brother, but he won’t – it seems money is more important to them.”