Earlier this month, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attended the Invictus Games, the annual event for wounded veterans that Harry helped to found in 2014.
The couple spent the week in Dusseldorf, where they cheered on the competitors and dined with the organizers who make the event happen each year.
There were many photo ops and heartfelt speeches, and while we’re sure this was not the Sussexes’ top priority, their involvement with the games provided a much-needed boost to their public image.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Recent polls indicate that Meghan’s approval rating is at an all-time low, and Harry isn’t faring much better.
The games provided a much-needed opportunity for the controversial couple to remind the world of their humanity, and for the most part, the media reaction was favorable.
Unfortunately, it seems like Harry and Meghan’s recent string of positive press might prove to be short-lived.
In fact, the couple began dealing with a spate of new controversies even before they returned home to Montecito.
First, there were reports that Meghan’s ex-best friend Jessica Mulroney is writing a memoir that will depict the duchess in an unflattering light.
Shortly thereafter, an investigative journalist claimed to have unearthed damaging new information about Meghan’s never-ending feud with the royal family.
Now, reports of a “snub” from Harry directed at King Charles could further undermine whatever goodwill the Sussexes might have built up through their work at Invictus.
Just days before the games, Harry stopped in London to attend the WellChild Awards.
The day after the ceremony was the one-year anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, but Harry did not mark the occasion with his family.
But despite reports to the contrary, insiders now say King Charles did extend an invitation to his estranged son.
According to a new report from The Telegraph (via The Daily Beast), Harry was “welcome” to join the family at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where Charles and Queen Camilla were having “private family time.”
Harry declined the invitation, allegedly claiming that his itinerary “made the trip impossible.”
But insiders suspect that Harry steered clear not because of his busy schedule, but for the same reason that Meghan skipped the London trip entirely — because they’re still angry that Charles evicted them from Frogmore Cottage.
The property had served as Harry and Meghan’s home away from home during visits to the UK, and insiders say the couple now feels unsafe and unwelcome in Harry’s home country.
“Not having anywhere isn’t overly helpful. There are friends and hotels, but I know they would like to have somewhere,” says a source close to the situation.
“Meghan seems to have decided that coming back more is not what she wants to do, but Harry would like to. Having a base in his home country, despite everything that has happened, is appealing,” the insider adds.
“There is work to be done here in terms of the charities, and there would be opportunities in the future where he’ll want to be here a bit more.
“If they could have kept Frogmore, they would have done—it was the perfect setup for them. When he last stayed there, he did a whole load of clearing-out, and he was sanguine about it but pretty sad.”
The source –identified as a friend of the Sussexes — says that if Charles were to offer some sort of London-adjacent property to Harry and Meghan, the move would “would be an ever-so-slight softening of relations.”
That sounds like a pretty small return in exchange for a castle, but sources close to Charles say the king is considering the proposition.
“The king can see that to remove Harry as a counsellor of state would be seen as an act of antagonism and he does not want to do that,” says a source close to Buckingham Palace.
“If, as a consequence of that, somewhere on the royal estate needs to be earmarked as a pied-à-terre for his son, that seems a reasonable thing to do.”
But a source close to the crown denies those reports and insists that the best Harry and Meghan can hope for is temporary accommodation “when feasible” for short visits.
So it sounds like once again, the two sides are at a stalemate — and his desire to appease everyone in his family might have left the king with limited moves.