The sense of disappointment inside London’s grand Guildhall was palpable.
One of the rooms hosting VIPs and other invited guests was left without a member of the royal family present to mingle and chat as promised.
The mood turned lukewarm when organizers told the disgruntled attendees, who had expected to be hosted by a young royal, that English sparkling wine and a buffet of traditional dishes such as coronation chicken and smoked duck, were served because the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had been invited to attend.
But it wasn’t just the public who stunned Harry and Meghan after an embarrassing appearance at St Paul’s Cathedral for their Thanksgiving service.
This carefully designed event was derailed by the boos Harry and Meghan received from onlookers as they entered and then left the chapel where Princess Diana famously married Prince Charles – a courtier’s worst nightmare who had long feared that polite royals might turn out loud. on the church. The couple are after their constant attacks on the establishment since the Megaxit conference.
I have learned that some members of the royal family and many senior courtiers were horrified by the detached and cold appearance of the exiled couple, who also made the decision to move out of the country before the Queen made the historic Buckingham Palace balcony. Appearing, alongside Charles, Camilla and Cambridge, on Sunday evening.
Harry and Meghan were pictured during the National Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday
Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Kate and Prince Louis on the balcony during the Platinum Jubilee Competition on Sunday
Prince Harry looks out the window after arriving in the United States before the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Any hopes that the glorious Platinum Jubilee would provide a chance for a general recovery were dashed.
Indeed, the events of the weekend show that the gap between Harry, Meghan and the royal family is still greater than ever.
There was not a single general sign of convergence.
And while Harry and Meghan can’t be accused of trying to steal the spotlight – even though Meghan appeared to wind down her car window in the presence of the paparazzi – the couple’s actions seemed designed to make it clear to the world that they continue to reject not only their blood relatives, but the institution they represent.
Meanwhile, the mistrust between the two warring camps was now out of scale.
This may seem a silly concept, but sources close to senior royals have warned them not to consider Harry and Meghan could secretly record their conversations.
I should be clear that there is no indication that the couple will ever do this, but even the anxiety they might have shows how toxic relationships have become.
There is also a constant fear that the couple will continue to leak intimate family moments to their favorite American TV broadcasters.
I’m told Prince Charles and Prince William have made it clear that they simply won’t accept even the smallest details of their complicated family relationships that are fodder for American stars, following the revelations of Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King on CBS. About private conversations between senior royals cause outrage.
Somewhat surprisingly, Harry and Meghan are now considered bigger outcasts than Prince Andrew internally within the royal establishment, even though the Queen kicked them all off Buckingham Palace balcony appearances after Trooping the Color Palace.
A royal source explains: “Prince Andrew is less of a pariah than Harry and Meghan when it comes to family. The public may be surprised, but within the family he is seen as if he did nothing wrong. They have to believe it.
As it turned out, an appropriately timed Covid-19 case averted a PR disaster for Andrew turning up at the Thanksgiving service, a prospect that had horrified the courtiers.
And despite the intimidation of Harry and Meghan’s presence, along with persistent concerns about the Queen’s health, the platinum jubilee is already considered a smash success.
And it wasn’t just the public who stunned Harry and Meghan after an awkward appearance at St Paul’s Cathedral for their Thanksgiving service.
The Queen has rightly remained at the center of the proceedings, putting her health on the line to appear three times on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The courtiers are also particularly delighted with the impromptu human moment yesterday afternoon as Prince Charles took a raucous Prince Louis on his knee, to give his mother Kate a reprieve so she could snap her up for the pageant – a photo that doesn’t align with Harry’s portrayal of his cool father.
But crucially Prince Charles’ vision for the future of the monarchy was presented, with Camilla and Cambridge taking center stage.
Yesterday’s balcony where the Queen appeared alongside Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, George, Charlotte and Louis will be seen as the enduring historical image for all of the weekend’s festivities.
Of course, in Charles’ original scheme, Prince Harry and Meghan, likely with their children, would have appeared on the balcony as well.
Not so, the monarchy has weathered over the past two and a half years and is probably getting stronger, in the UK at least, where attacks on the royal family by the Sussex are seen as deeply treasonous.
But the irony is that, just as the royal family has moved on, it appears Harry and Meghan may want more engagement in the future.
For commercial reasons at least, Hollywood chiefs believe the Sussexes need to maintain closer proximity to their British relatives in the coming months and years to maintain their closely related brand.
Speaking to a number of top US media executives, the blunt truth is that the likes of Netflix and Spotify love to sign their big money to be connected to the organization they were so desperate to get away with.
Courtiers are now watching closely to see if Harry and Meghan release any photos of the weekend in the UK, and in particular their meeting with the Queen, in the coming weeks or months.
But with the platinum jubilee winding down, the future of royal relations now hinges on the seemingly overdue biography of Harry, which remains without a publication date even though it is due to be released this year.
Harry and Meghan snapped a photo of them leaving St Paul’s Cathedral after Thanksgiving Sunday prayers
If, as expected, the Duke of Sussex attacked his father, stepmother and brother in the book, the courtiers believed that it would be nearly impossible to restore relations in the future.
All this would provide our perpetual queen, who has vowed to continue her incomparable service, more unnecessary stress in her twilight years.
If Harry and Meghan respect the Queen as often as they insist, they should put her feelings before their desire to settle scores.
But what Her Majesty’s wonderful weekend has shown me is that sniping on the part of the Duke and Duchess of Walk has become increasingly irrelevant – and that is all too well.