King Charles’ secret ‘message’ to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

As far as stealthy, covert operations go, I think we can confidently say that King Charles is no le Carré worthy-figure. There are no well-worn trench coats lurking in his closet or used pieces of chalk for signalling dead drops in the Fortnum & Mason marmalade aisle.

Still, a new report has come out suggesting that none other than His Majesty has been sending his son and daughter-in-law, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex something of a clandestine “message” about a possible re-entry into the royal world.

(I assume that Charles has been doing this while wearing a rakishly tilted trilby hat.)

The thing to know here is that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and generally reviled berk, has, for some godforsaken, been being welcomed back into the Windsor fold.

Last week, the Mirror the 63-year-old has been given a “stay of execution” from being turfed out of his palatial home Royal Lodge, even though, as a royal family friend told the Daily Mail, “he and the duchess are … rattling around in a huge property they simply can’t afford.”

And just before that, in late August, William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales were dragooned into driving him to church in full view of the UK press in a painfully clear signal of rehabilitation. (Did the Waleses have a hint of the grim hostage forced into this about them? Indeed.)

Long story short, Andrew, the same man who managed to go and TV and to cast himself as the true victim of his sex trafficking pal Jeffrey Epstein, failing to show even a jot of sympathy for the women abused by his bestie slash benefactor, you know, the same man who paid untold millions to settle a civil sexual abuse case against him, has somehow made his way back into the heart of royal life.

Let’s just all breathe here as we each swallow our disgust.

So, the current state of play is that the Duke of York has managed to get himself out of royal purdah and onto palace parole while the Sussexes are still left so far out into the cold they probably have hypothermia.

However, now a chum of His Majesty has spoken to The Daily Beast’s Tom Sykes, whose connections are something else and a half, to explain that Andrew’s comeback contains a “message” for the California agitators.

Sykes writes: “A family friend of the King’s [has said] that it was clear there had been a willingness to bring Andrew in from the cold, and, intriguingly, hinted that it could be a template for future reconciliation with his son.”

Said the regal pal: “The extent to which the King has publicly made it clear Andrew is still part of the family has caught some people by surprise. But ultimately, he has the interests of the monarchy at heart, and that means a united family, whatever its problems. Hopefully that message is getting through to Harry and Meghan.”

The moral here, in case anyone in Montecito is listening: There is a way back into the good graces of Charles and that the door has not been permanently shut on the failed podcasters. His Majesty might make the pragmatic choice here and do what needs to be done to somehow patch things up with the Sussexes.

However, here comes the proviso.

A friend of the duke’s (who knew he had any left?) told Sykes: “[Andrew] knows he has damaged the monarchy. So have Harry and Meghan. The difference is [Andrew] deeply regrets it and it was not intentional, whereas Harry and Meghan deliberately set out to cause as much damage to Charles and Camilla … Disloyalty is far and away the No. 1 crime in that family.”

(Sorry, I can’t ignore the line, “the No. 1 crime”. Really? A very interesting designation for a family whose members have, in only the last couple of years: Been sued in a civil court over multiple alleged counts of sexual abuse – Andrew, and which he has always strenuously denied; whose charity was the subject of a mysteriously shuttered police investigation over allegations of cash-for-honours – Charles; and whose private office is alleged to have gotten the British Foreign Office to “fast track” a visa for a sanctioned Russian oligarch “closely linked” to the facelifted homicidal despot currently in the Kremlin – Prince Michael of Kent.)

I digress. This “message” from the King would seem to be that there is still the possibility of

Harry and Meghan finding their way back into the inner sanctum of the royal family. Also, good behaviour, like quietly sitting around one’s 31-room grand home, twiddling one’s thumbs while rewatching Spitting Image on VHS and waiting for public revulsion to pass, gets rewarded.

However, surely though, any re-entry of the Sussexes into the royal world would be contingent on the couple truly moving on from all truth-telling, dirt-sharing, feelings-having business and for trust to be rebuilt on all sides.

And just what do you think are the chances of that?

There has not been a single clue or sign that Harry and Meghan might be willing to change course such that they might one day finally get an invitation to Queen Camilla’s Burns Night all-you-can-guzzle whiskey, haggis’n’tatties knees-up.

For better or worse, the Sussexes look like they have very much settled on a future that does not involve flatulent, aged Jack Russells in Clarence House drawing room or ever having to make strained small talk with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent (he of the Russia allegations, she of the racist broach) at the annual Buckingham Palace Christmas lunch.

Rather, Harry and Meghan have thrown their lot in with the Botox-ed, blow-dried, blowhards of Hollywood Boulevard and would seem to be intent on remaining a breakaway, independent state. I’m not sure I see them ceding their hard-fought emancipation from The Firm any time soon, even if the duke, in a TV interview earlier this year, said “I would like to get my father back, I would like to have my brother back.”

If Charles is serious about using Andrew’s demi-comeback as “template” for the Sussexes then he might want to start by offering them a new UK address after turfing them out of Frogmore Cottage earlier this year. A recent Sunday Times report suggested that renting the duo a property inside the Kensington Palace complex had been considered by aides, though the Palace denied the claim.

If the Duke of York is still being allowed to swan around his grand home, then the King should put finding the Sussexes a London flat at the top of his to-do list, right next to ‘Actually visit Commonwealth’ and ‘Buy socks’. (As the sovereign, he has hundreds of properties at his disposal so this wouldn’t be that hard.)

At the end of the day, as far as ‘messages’ go, the ongoing double standard being applied to Andrew and Harry, who have both managed to deeply embarrass the monarchy in the last few years, could not be louder or clearer. Talk about tinker, tailor, soldier … sigh.

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

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