Queen funeral: Meghan and Harry humiliation walking behind George, Charlotte

Many amazing things that had happened over the last 10 days since the death of the Queen. There has been the unbelievable outpouring of national grief in the UK; seeing a post-Brexit, divided Britain unite in collective keening; David Beckham queuing for 13-hours to pay his respects while dressed like an extra from Peaky Blinders.

And let me add something to the list: I have started to feel sorry for Prince Harry.

The Duke of Sussex has not only lost his adored grandmother, one of his reportedly staunchest and last allies inside the royal family, but he has been dealt blow after mortifying blow thanks to Buckingham Palace’s chaotic handling of events.

On Monday morning AEST, the Order of Service for Her Majesty’s funeral was released and there on page eight was just the latest indignity lumped on the 38-year-old’s famous ginger head. When he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex take their place in the procession following the Queen’s coffin into Westminster Abbey, they will be forced to walk behind his nine-year-old nephew Prince George and seven-year-old niece Princess Charlotte.

The business of monarchy really can be ab**ch, can’t it?

The hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people tune in globally to watch the Queen’s funeral, they will also bear witness to the fact that Harry, born the spare to the heir, has been supplanted, and his irrelevance to the Crown will never be more obvious.

For the Duke of Sussex, the news that he will have to literally fall in place behind two primary schoolers just caps off what must have been two of the most discomfiting weeks of his adult life.

First came that ultimately futile dash to see the Queen in Scotland on September 9, with the Telegraph revealing that on the day, Harry was only told “some time” after his brother that “their grandmother was not expected to make it”.

“As such, Harry’s aides struggled to get a flight, frantically looking at every option to get him to his grandmother,” the Telegraph’s Victoria Ward has reported. “Meanwhile, his brother joined forces with the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, to fly from RAF Northolt to Aberdeen, landing at 3.50pm.”

By the time Harry took off in a private jet from Luton Airport at 5.35pm, the Prime Minister Liz Truss had already known for an hour that Her Majesty had died. The Queen’s grandson was then only told of her death by her five minutes before the public statement went out at 6.30pm and while he was still in the air.

Then, a couple of days later, came the brief, jarring revival of the Fab Four when the Sussexes joined William and Kate, Prince and Princess of Wales for a walkabout to greet the public at Windsor Castle. Interestingly, someone on the Kensington Palace side nearly immediately seemed to be doing some enthusiastic briefing of the media with the line being put about that the outing was all due to William’s munificence.

As last week progressed, Harry increasingly became collateral damage as confusion and the odd U-turn of official position ruled the day.

One of the biggest issues was the question of uniform. Initially, it was reported that King Charles would not allow Harry to wear military dress to the Queen’s funeral (ditto the disgraced Prince Andrew) only for Andrew to be allowed to wear his naval dress for the vigil mounted by Her Majesty’s children.

On Wednesday, when the procession conveying Her Majesty’s coffin made its way from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, Harry was in all-too-conspicuous suits, as was Andrew. The House of Windsor’s black sheep were quite literally, dressed in black. Symbolism much?

The no-uniform ruling was then overturned after cooler heads prevailed inside the palace, with Harry being granted permission to also wear his when he and his seven other cousins ​​held their own vigil around the coffin.

“Common sense has prevailed,” a royal source told the Telegraph. “It was a ludicrous situation, given the Duke of Sussex has served his country and is a highly respected member of the armed forces with everything he has done for veterans. It is important that the Queen’s grandchildren are all made to feel welcome and comfortable as they grieve their beloved grandmother together.”

Except that there was still yet another setback reportedly in store for Harry here.

Harry, by this point, had been given permission by his father to wear his Blues and Royals uniform, however, the Telegraph has reported that he was left “devastated” after finding out that he would not be allowed to wear his grandmother’s ER initials on the shoulder, something he only discovered once his uniform had been delivered to the Sussexes’ Frogmore Cottage. The ornamental braided cord called the aiguillettes which signify the position of aide-de-camp was taken off too.

This situation then “triggered a furious exchange of phone calls and messages that was still not resolved on Friday evening,” the Telegraph reported. “Such was his frustration of him, that he is said to have considered wearing a morning suit to the vigil to avoid humiliation.”

Ultimately, William removed his aiguillettes from his uniform as well as “in a bid to appear his brother”.

Stay with me here, there’s more. So much more.

Within hours of the Queen’s death, the royal family’s website was updated to reflect the amended order of succession and to include the Waleses’ new titles. (When Charles announced the news in his live TV address, it was the first time in history a sovereign had ever officially given their heir that title before their coronation.)

Mysteriously, the Sussexes’ children Archie and Lilibet were still plain old Master and Miss even though under the 1917 Letters Patent, they should have automatically become a prince and princess with their grandfather’s accession.

Nearly a week later, the Sun reported that after “tense discussions” it had been decided that while the Sussex kids would get their titles, Charles would not be making them His/Her Royal Highness, as the Wales’ children are styled, leaving Harry and Meghan “furious”. (At the time of writing, the royal website has not been changed, still, and there has been no official announcement on the front.)

The same day was Harry’s 38th birthday, but with the royal family in official mourning, it went unmarked. Here’s hoping that at least Meghan got him a gluten-free, dairy-free cake.

Then there was the invitation snafu.

Towards the end of last week it was revealed that the Sussexes had been incorrectly invited to a state reception to be held at the palace, which would be the biggest gathering of heads of state and international royalty in a generation.

How did the Duke and Duchess find out that they had been scratched from the guest list? The media, according to Page Sixwhich reported they only found out about the error via the media.

“Harry and Meghan actually got the invitation and no-one has actually told them they are uninvited,” a royal source has said.

(However, according to the Telegraph, the couple were told on Friday about the accident. “Whether or not the message was received appeared in dispute.”)

All of this, all of these stuff-ups, humiliations of varying degrees and messes, Harry and Meghan, it must be said, have borne surprisingly stoically.

And here we are today, with this funeral procession news, just another minor indignity. Yes, of course, I know that this was not done arbitrarily or out of pettiness – the order of succession is an immutable thing – but does that really diminish the possible sting?

Harry has always been cognisant that his fate, like every other spare, was a lifelong shunting further and further down the ladder.

In 2017 he awned newsweekthat he was in a rush “to make something of my life”.

“I feel there is just a smallish window when people are interested in me before [William’s children] take over, and I’ve got to make the most of it.”

(The same year he also said of George and Charlotte in another interview: “The reason I am now fifth is because of my nephew and niece, and I could never wish them away. They are the most amazing things ever.”)

But knowing something will happen and experiencing it are two completely different things, especially after the events of the last three years during which Harry has seemingly been left feeling hard done by and ill-treated by his family.

Where the Sussex-Windsor civil war goes in weeks and months to come, as the royal family slowly moves out of mourning and resumes normal programming, is anyone’s guess. But the way that the Palace has handled the last two weeks cannot have helped things.

The Queen’s approach was always duty above all else, a dictum that the Sussexes have been accused of blithely ignoring in recent years. But these last 10 days? Harry and Meghan have only done the right thing and toed the line, even when facing one affront after another. You would have to think she would be proud of her.

Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal expert with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

Originally published as Humiliation of Meghan and Harry forced to walk behind George and Charlotte

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