It sounds like Christmas of 2019 wasn’t completely merry for Prince Harry and the rest of the royal family.
According to royal biographer Christopher Andersen, who spoke to Us Weekly, Queen Elizabeth made a last-minute decision to exclude Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and baby Archie from her annual Christmas broadcast after learning of her grandson’s wish to step back from his senior royal title. (The couple didn’t announce their decision until January 2020.)
The queen reportedly chose to have a photo of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex removed from her desk during the taping, despite their prominent placement the year before. Notably, a large photo of the Cambridge family—Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis—was featured.
“The queen hasn’t decided what to do about [Prince Harry’s decision to leave],” Andersen told Us Weekly. “There’s a point at which—just before she gives a speech to the director on set— [she is] asked her which photographs she wants in the shot next to her.” The queen reportedly pointed to a photo of the Sussex family and said, “We won’t be needing that one.”
Andersen describes the moment as a “turning point” in Prince Harry’s relationship with his grandmother. “There are all sorts of subtle messages that are conveyed in this, kind of soap opera that goes on,” the author explained. “In 2018, she sat there in front of a Christmas tree. She gave her Christmas address and there were the family photos… Including Archie and Meghan and Harry, very prominently displayed.”
Of course, the blatant omission of his family would be painful for Prince Harry. “I think that was a hurtful [thing for him to see],” Andersen continued. “A friend of Harry’s told me that he felt that he was being erased in a sense from the family. And it was right after that, that they made their [decision to leave the U.K.]. I think that was one of the things that prompted them to issue the statement that they were stepping back from royal [life for a] full-time real life.”
He continued, “It seems very subtle, but when you think about it, when somebody cuts you out of the family album, so to speak, it’s a pretty strong message.”