Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the monarchy and the world in early 2020 when they announced that they were stepping down as senior royals before moving across the pond; more than 5,000 miles away from the duke’s family. Their exit from the Firm left many questions about what went so wrong that caused them to leave.
During a televised special with Oprah Winfrey a year later, Meghan and Harry gave their version of what went on behind palace walls and alleged that things started off good but were bad for a while. So when did everything change? One expert has weighed in on that topic and has pinpointed exactly when she believes things shifted with the Sussexes and the royal family.
Meghan’s first meeting with the queen went well
It was long believed that Meghan got along with all of Harry’s members when they first met. Even her meeting with Queen Elizabeth II was said to have gone very well.
Royal journalist Ashley Pearson detailed the first meeting between the queen and Harry’s then-girlfriend in the documentary Harry & Meghan vs the Monarchy.
“The meeting went extremely well. It actually ran over, which is an extraordinary thing for the way the queen keeps her schedule,” Pearson said. “Meghan was warmly welcomed. Here she is — articulate, bright, intelligent, well-spoken, beautiful, elegant — what is not to like?”
The duchess also talked about meeting Harry’s grandmother during her interview with Oprah and told the media mogul that the queen was “wonderful” to her.
So when did things go wrong?
Commentator reveals when things may have started to ‘sour’
According to Pearson, it wasn’t until Harry and Meghan went public with their engagement that tensions with the prince’s relatives began brewing.
In November 2017, weeks after Harry proposed, he and Meghan gave their first joint interview. “The engagement interview was when things really started to sour,” Pearson said in the documentary.
During that interview, Harry said he tried to prepare his bride-to-be for the road ahead and “warn” her about what their future would entail. “[I] tried to warn [Meghan] as much as possible,” he revealed. “I still have to have some pretty frank conversations with her to say, you know: ‘What you’re letting yourself in for … it’s a big deal and it’s not … easy for anybody.’”
A year and a half after tying the knot, the couple stepped down from their roles as working royals.
Wounds between the Sussexes and royal family are still raw
Since moving to California, the duke and duchess have returned to England on a few occasions but haven’t had much interaction with the rest of the royal family.
The prince returned himself in April 2021 for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral. This was a month after Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah, and the visit was brief. Harry returned again in July 2021 and stood alongside his brother to unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana. Despite smiling in front of the cameras and unveiling the statue together, Prince William and Harry barely spoke during the ceremony.
The Duchess of Sussex hadn’t been back in the U.K. at all until she and Harry stopped by Windsor Castle on their way to The Hague, Netherlands for the Invictus Games in April 2022. The Sussexes were then in England together for the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022. That visit showed just how raw the wounds within the family are as Meghan and Harry were seated on opposite sides of the church away from the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Charles. The pair were also relegated to the second pew behind lesser-known royals.