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Meghan and Harry remain behind the scenes at Platinum Jubilee

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry in New York in 2021. (Seth Wenig/AP)
4 min

LONDON ― Would they show or no? The biggest suspense ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday was whether runaway royals Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, would appear.

Buckingham Palace had indicated it would be only “senior working royals” and some of their children for the big moment on the balcony with the queen. That would exclude Harry and Meghan, who gave up their royal responsibilities in 2020 and moved to California, shaking the foundations of the family institution. But still, rumors swirled until the last moment that the queen might make an exception.

In the end, it was a no — at least for Thursday’s big event, the “Trooping the Color” military parade. Harry and Meghan weren’t on the balcony in the sunshine with the queen to watch the dazzling Royal Air Force flyover.

Working members of the royal family joined Queen Elizabeth II on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the flyover on June 2. (Video: The Washington Post)

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Nevertheless, keen-eyed observers spotted Meghan, wearing a wide-brimmed white hat, in a window above the parade route. Royal commentator and biographer Omid Scobie tweeted that Meghan and Harry had been photographed while speaking with the queen’s cousin the Duke of Kent and playfully chatting with some of the queen’s great-grandchildren.

They are expected to be more visible Friday and to attend a thanksgiving service with the queen at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, as part of the ongoing celebrations.

Some in the crowd at Buckingham Palace on Thursday felt that balance hit the right note — the Sussexes were involved, but not front and center. “I agree that they shouldn’t be up on the balcony,” said Joanne Smith, 52, from north London. “Harry and Meghan don’t live here. They decided they don’t want to be part of the royal family. But he’s her grandson, so she wants him for some things."

British media have reported that they may also succeed in pulling the queen away from her beloved horse racing Saturday, so that she can join a birthday party for their daughter, the queen’s great-granddaughter, Lilibet.

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Also notably absent Thursday was Prince Andrew.

The queen’s third child (and said to be her favorite) was not among his siblings Charles and Anne as they took part on horseback in the pomp and pageantry Thursday morning with some 1,400 guards. Nor was he in the royal carriages, which included his younger brother Edward.

Andrew’s banishment from front-line royal life comes after he settled a sexual-abuse lawsuit this year, linked to his friendship with disgraced American financier and convicted abuser, Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew wasn’t expected to attend on Thursday. But he announced a last-minute excuse for Friday’s church service, as well. Buckingham Palace said he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“After undertaking a routine test the duke has tested positive for covid and with regret will no longer be attending tomorrow’s service,” a palace spokesman said Thursday afternoon.

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Andrew participated in the last Trooping the Color, in June 2019, as colonel of the Grenadier Guards regiment. That’s an honorary position he accepted after his father, Prince Philip, retired from royal duties in 2017.

But the queen stripped Andrew of his honorary military titles in January and is now herself colonel of the regiment, which brings the title full circle. She was first appointed to the position in 1942, and she rode in that role at her first Trooping the Color.

Mashup of Queen Elizabeth II on her balcony over the years (Video: The Washington Post)

Harry and Meghan don’t seem to face the same sort of exile as Andrew. But they have repeatedly ruffled royal feathers.

They gave a bombshell interview to television host Oprah Winfrey in 2021, detailing their experiences of royal life, including allegations of racism in the family.

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Both have spoken publicly about the media scrutiny they faced in Britain, with Harry at times likening the hounding to that faced by his late mother, Princess Diana.

Harry and Meghan have continued to take part in global charity works and commercial projects. Meghan visited Uvalde, Tex., last month to pay respects to victims of the school shooting there. Harry was in Britain last year for the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip.

William Booth, Karla Adam and Marisa Bellack contributed to this report.