Harry and Meghan invited to Queen’s party – but not onto palace balcony

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will head to Britain with their young children to help celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee next month – but the couple, along with Prince Andrew, have not been invited to join the monarch on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

The 96-year-old, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, marked seven decades on the throne in February.

Four days of platinum jubilee events to recognise the landmark are planned across Britain on a long weekend from June 2-5.

They will begin with the annual Trooping the Colour military parade in central London on June 2, which will be followed by the royal family’s traditional appearance on the balcony – expected to be in front of a crowd of thousands.

The Queen will be joined there by her other three children – Prince Charles, Prince Edward and Anne, the Princess Royal. Harry’s brother Prince William and wife Kate Middleton are also expected, with their children, alongside other royal relatives.

There has been much speculation about whether the California-based Sussexes and out-of-favour son Prince Andrew would be among them. Buckingham Palace said on Saturday (Australian time) that the Queen had decided to limit the crowd to “working royals” only.

“After careful consideration, the Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance … will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the royal family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the queen,” a palace spokesperson said.

That means up to 20 members of the extended royal family will miss out – including Andrew, the Queen’s second son. His stock has plummeted after he settled a US lawsuit in February in which he was accused of sexually abusing Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager.

He had already stepped down from public duties because of his connections to the late convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and has been stripped of military titles and royal patronages and is no longer known as “His Royal Highness”.

Harry, younger son of heir Prince Charles, also gave up royal duties and lost his patronages after moving with his US wife Meghan to Los Angeles, from where they have delivered barbs and accusations of racism against the royal household.

Harry has also been in an ongoing dispute with the British government over security arrangements. He skipped a memorial services for his grandfather, Prince Philip, in March, but will return for the jubilee celebrations.

His spokesperson confirmed he would be there with Meghan and their two children, son Archie (who has just turned three) and daughter Lilibet. The little girl, who was given the Queen’s childhood nickname, has her first birthday on June 4.

It will be Lilibet’s first visit to Britain, and the first time son Archie has returned since Harry and Meghan sensationally quit as working royals and left the country in March 2020.

The Duchess of Sussex did join her husband on a surprise whistlestop visit to Britain – her first in more than two years – to see the Queen last month.

The Sussexes were”excited and honoured” to be attending the jubilee events, their spokesperson said in a statement.

A palace source had said Harry, Meghan and his children remained “much loved members of the family” and that those absent from the balcony moment “will be invited to events”.

The remainder of the long weekend of celebrations will include a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral, a concert outside Buckingham Palace, and a pageant through the British capital on subsequent days.

However, the guest-of-honour’s appearance at all events remains in doubt. The Queen, who celebrated her 96th birthday a fortnight ago, has been struggling with mobility issues, and most of her recent public engagements have had to be cancelled.

On Friday, the palace confirmed that she would not attend any of this year’s official garden parties – the first scheduled after a two-year gap for the pandemic.

Buckingham Palace said the monarch did plan to be at some of the platinum jubilee events.

“Her majesty is looking forward to the weekend and will be taking part in the celebrations but her presence will not be confirmed until much nearer to the time or even on the day itself,” a spokesperson said.

-with AAP

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