No one could have predicted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s decision to step down as senior royals less than two years after their wedding. Many believe that the couple’s decision to break away from the family and move across the pond was especially disappointing to Queen Elizabeth II because of how “open-minded” she was about the prince’s relationship with the Suits actor.
Here’s what a royal expert has said about the queen’s reasoning for being “remarkably open-minded.”
Queen Elizabeth hasn’t always been so open to all her family’s relationships
Queen Elizabeth II and British monarchs before her haven’t always been the most open-minded when it comes to welcoming outsiders into the Firm. In fact, some royals like Princess Margaret and Prince Charles were pushed to choose partners considered more “suitable” instead of who they initially wanted to be with.
But before the queen’s sister broke off her relationship with Peter Townsend and before the Prince of Wales wed Princess Diana because he couldn’t marry Camilla Parker Bowles, King Edward VIII had to make a choice between love or his crown.
He chose love and had to abdicate for twice-divorced socialite Wallis Simpson to be his bride. Therefore, when Prince Harry wanted to marry a divorced TV star, royal watchers weren’t sure how the queen would react.
Why expert says things were different with Meghan
Queen Elizabeth’s opinion is the only one that matters in the royal family so everyone seeks approval just as Harry did. According to royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, there’s a reason that the monarch was more open-minded than ever to Meghan and her relationship with the prince.
Express noted that Bedell Smith previously told Vanity Fair the queen did not oppose the love match because it isn’t likely that Harry would ever be king. “The stakes are obviously lower in the case of Harry because he is fifth in line to the throne,” the author said prior to Prince Louis’ birth, which pushed Harry down to sixth in line.
Harry’s grandmother even bent the rules for him by allowing Meghan to spend Christmas at Sandringham before their wedding. Other royal fiancées, like Kate Middleton, were not invited to the Norfolk estate for the holiday until after they married into the family.
Harry still had to get the queen’s permission to marry Meghan
Because of Harry’s proximity to the throne, he still had to get permission from his grandmother to marry Meghan. The BBC reported the first six royals in line must get consent from the queen in order to wed their partner. Without that, Harry would have been “disqualified from the line of succession.”
Two months before the Sussexes’ royal wedding, Queen Elizabeth signed the Instrument of Consent writing: “Do by these presents signify our consent to the contracting of matrimony between our most dearly beloved grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales KCVO and Rachel Meghan Markle.”