Instead, the choice to limit the balcony moment to “working royals only” makes the Sussexes seem like a casualty of a PR plan designed to solve the Prince Andrew problem (hello, his rape case makes him the only one who truly deserves to be banished) and, as the U.K. tabloids venomously dramatize it, prevent Harry and Meghan from stealing the spotlight from the queen.
The latter feels like the biggest eye roll reasoning of all. The Sussexes, with their high-wattage star power, would only amplify the attention on Her Majesty. And, if a picture is worth a thousand words, it would demonstrate progress and yield royal wedding-levels of good will toward the Windsors overall.
Of course, we don’t know the full calendar of the weekend just yet. There are royal rumors circulating that there could in fact be a second family balcony appearance, scheduled for Sunday that weekend, in which more of the family could take part.
In addition, the Sussexes could also have had their own stipulations in regards to their attendance, unbeknownst to us. They could have declined Trooping the Colour and preferred to take a back seat throughout the occasion—after all, there are no doubt still plenty of issues that need to be worked through following allegations of racism, a lack of mental health support and more. But we also know that the pair recently made the effort to meet with Queen Elizabeth and Charles en route to the Invictus Games in the Hague. And per Harry’s limited revelations to Hoda Kotb on TODAY, the reunion—at least the part with his grandmother, which was all that he mentioned—went well.
But that’s just it and why, long-term, I believe the monarchy will view this decision to leave them off the balcony with regret. As we know from countless accounts, the queen has always had a soft spot for Harry. (He, in turn, has deep affection for her.) Also, after the death of Diana, William and Harry have, for the most part, enjoyed an impenetrable bond.
Bottom line: Decades from now, looking back on this moment, Harry and Meghan’s exclusion only heightens the drama. Instead, it could have been an olive branch. For optics? Sure. But also because, ultimately, it will matter to the queen, Prince Charles and William that Harry was by their side.
To be clear, I’m also still very much looking forward to cheering on the queen and the Cambridges, even Charles and Camilla, throughout the weekend whether the Sussexes appear on the balcony or not. 70 years! This is a big deal.
But as far as royal strategy goes, this still feels like a miss and a source of unnecessary drama. My only hope is that the weekend proves me wrong.
For more about the royals, listen to the Royally Obsessed podcast with co-hosts Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito. Subscribe now or follow us on Instagram @royallyobsessedpodcast.