With less than two weeks to go before King Charles III’s coronation on May 6, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have responded to Buckingham Palace’s invitation to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. While the Prince will be attending his father’s coronation, the Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with the couple’s two children, Archie and Lilibet.
Prior to this announcement, the public rift between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family sparked speculation over whether the pair would attend the coronation ceremony on May 6. Though they received an official invitation to the ceremony before March 5, their reply was not delivered until mid-April.
A complicated relationship with royalty
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s relationship with the rest of the royal family has been complicated since the pair discarded their royal titles and moved to the United States in early 2020.
Citing a desire to become financially independent and to raise their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor with greater privacy, the Sussexes moved to California in July of 2020, ostensibly to live a quieter life away from the tabloids and constant media attention. Since the move, however, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been vocal about their disputes with other members of the royal family, sitting for an interview with Oprah in March of 2021 and releasing a Netflix docuseries in late 2022.
While some have lauded the Sussexes for their honesty and willingness to speak about mental health concerns, others have criticized them for supposedly desiring privacy and yet taking numerous opportunities to air their grievances with Buckingham Palace.
Was May 6 chosen on purpose?
Most recently, the publication of Prince Harry’s autobiography, Spare, furthered the rift between the Sussexes and their royal relatives. Released five months before the coronation ceremony, Spare made headlines for its unflattering portrayal of the royal family.
Reviews indicate that the memoir may have hurt the Sussexes’ popularity as well, with Alexandra Jacobs of the New York Times pointing out Prince Harry’s perceived hypocrisy: “In the prince’s full-throated renunciation of fame and royalty with all its punishing invasions of privacy, he has only become more famous . . . trading his proximity to the throne for the No. 1 spot on cushioned chairs opposite Oprah and Anderson Cooper.”
Critics of the royal family have accused the king of insensitivity over the choice of the coronation date. May 6 is the birthday of Harry and Meghan’s son Archie, leading some to speculate that the date was intended as a slight to the estranged Sussexes.
Prince Harry’s decision to attend the coronation without his wife places him in a difficult position. As a son, he wants to honor his father on the most important day of the king’s life. As a husband and father, he wants to stand by the family he has made outside of Buckingham Palace.
To protect his family
The prince has spoken openly about the pressures his mother, the late Princess Diana, faced as a member of the royal family, and said that his “biggest concern was history repeating itself” in the couple’s tell-all interview with Oprah.
Harry has cited the stress of constant media attention as one of the factors behind Meghan’s 2020 miscarriage, and one of the primary stated reasons for the couple’s move to the United States was a desire for greater normalcy.
In an interview discussing the Netflix documentary, Harry declared, “I had to do everything I could to protect my family.” Regardless of the perceived hypocrisy of the Sussexes’ subsequent appearances in the media, Harry’s desire to protect his wife and children is a biblical one. Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to love and serve their wives as Christ loves the church. In this light, Harry’s willingness to give up royal life for the sake of his bride mirrors Christ’s humbling of himself at the incarnation and sacrifice on the cross.
To forgive his son
On the other side of the divide, King Charles is said to be extending the hand of forgiveness by inviting his son and daughter-in-law to the coronation. “Charles is a forgiving person by nature, and he wants to move on,” an anonymous source told Vanity Fair. “Whatever has been said and done, Harry is still his son and he loves him.”
The king’s forgiveness calls to mind the behavior of the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who, in Luke 15:20, runs to meet his wayward child while he is “still a long way off.” Charles is also against stripping Prince Harry of the Duke of Sussex title, as a recent book claims that royal advisors have discussed denying him the title due to his criticism of the monarchy.
A lesson in reconciliation
While reconciliation between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family may be a long time in coming, it seems that both father and son are motivated by love for their children, making such reconciliation a strong possibility.
As Christians, we should pray for the reconciliation of this and all other estranged families. God created families to be an example of life in the kingdom, a haven from the storms of life. Just as we have been reconciled to our Father through Jesus Christ, the reconciliation of a son to his earthly father demonstrates the relentless love and mercy of God.