Queen Elizabeth ‘Could Never Truly Understand’ Prince Harry’s Decision to Leave Royal Family, Expert Says

A royal expert said Queen Elizabeth “could never truly understand” Prince Harry’s decision to step down from the royal family. The queen’s lifelong dedication to duty was far different from Harry, who was willing to leave everything behind.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry pose at a royal event with the queen dressed in vibrant blue, Meghan wearing black, and Harry in uniform.
Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth couldn’t understand why Prince Harry ‘gave it all up,’ expert says

During an appearance on Palace Confidential, royal expert Katie Nicholl, author of The New Royals, explained why the queen struggled with understanding Harry’s decision.

Nicholl touched on the close relationship Harry had with his grandmother. “I know that the queen would take calls always from Harry, she always made time … she loved Harry. They had a very, very special relationship,” she said.

The author continued, “But, my understanding from the conversations I had was that she could never truly understand why he gave it all up.”

She noted, “Because for a young girl who was never destined to be queen, but who made that pledge to serve for her whole life — duty was in her DNA.”

Nicholl added, “So the idea that one of hers could turn their backs on that duty,  I think she did struggle to understand that.”

Queen Elizabeth’s role was ‘non-negotiable’

As for Nicholl writing about how the queen was “upset by Harry’s comments about duty,” the author explained, “After Harry had spoken about no one wanting the responsibility of being king — I’m paraphrasing but it was an interview with Newsweek — and she just couldn’t understand that comment.”

Nicholl continued, “That sort of ‘no one would want duty’ because she was thrust into it with no choice whatsoever. When her father became king, the one certainty in her life was that she would be queen and that was just non-negotiable.”

In his 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry shared his thoughts about how his father and brother were “trapped” and “don’t get to leave” the royal family. He also responded to rumors that he caught the queen off guard with the decision. “I’ve never blindsided my grandmother. I have too much respect for her,” he said.

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The queen tried to convince Harry and Meghan to stay

During the Oct. 13 episode of Royally Us, Nicholl discussed how the queen and Harry stayed “close” after he and Meghan Markle left. “They have always had a close relationship and he would call quite frequently. The queen took those calls and enjoyed those video calls where she got to see Archie and Lilibet,” the author explained. “But I’m not sure she ever did really understand his decisions for leaving.”

Nicholl continued, “We know through the statements that she issued that she really did try to convince them to stay and it was a source of, I think, great disappointment and private hurt and upset that a way couldn’t be found for them to stay as working members of the royal family.”

The expert noted, “It was the queen’s wish to try and persuade them to stay and certainly, Charles as well had always envisioned that even in his slimmed down monarchy, there were prominent roles to be had for Harry and Meghan.”

Nicholl believes the roles weren’t “prominent enough for Harry and Meghan,” however. “That idea of being the support act, not just to Charles and Camilla, but of course to William and Catherine, was something that didn’t appeal [to Harry and Meghan].”