Harry and Meghan likely to become distant memory, royal author warns

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to quit as senior royals will have been pushed to the back of the list of priorities as the royal family plays an important role during the coronavirus pandemic, a royal author has said.

Penny Junor said Harry and Meghan, who are walking away from the monarchy on Tuesday, are now “pretty irrelevant” and are likely to become a distant memory as the country battles the Covid-19 outbreak.

The crisis surrounding Harry and Meghan hit the headline early in 2020 (Steve Parsons/PA)

The duke and duchess are thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, preparing to step down as working royals, earn their own money and set up a not-for-profit organisation.

The situation will be reviewed by the monarchy in 12 months, leaving the door open in case of a change of heart,

But royal commentator Ms Junor said, for now, the royal family and the country are focusing on more crucial matters.

She told the PA news agency: “I think for the time being Harry and Meghan probably will become a distant memory. It’s very sad.”

The Queen is expected to speak to the nation in a televised address, the Prince of Wales has coronavirus, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are supporting an initiative to boost the nation’s mental health during lockdown.

The Queen leaving Buckingham Palace with one of her dogs for the safety of Windsor Castle (Aaron Chown/PA)

Ms Junor said: “The royal family definitely has a role to play in crises like this.

“It’s a great morale boost to have words from the Queen or words from William and to watch his children clapping the NHS workers. It’s important.

“The monarchy does represent the nation to itself. They are there to express our emotions.

“Prince Charles has got the disease so he’s in there with us all.

“All of this is absolutely what the family is about and those members of the royal family that are on a limb now are pretty irrelevant.”

Harry and Meghan delivered their bombshell statement in January, saying they wanted a dual role, earning their own money and supporting the Queen.

But the plan was unworkable and the Queen had to hold a crisis summit to deal with the matter, which resulted in the couple walking away from the monarchy completely.

They returned from a stay in Canada to carry out a farewell flurry of engagements in London including appearing with the royals on Commonwealth Day, but in the wake of their final official engagement, the UK has been gripped in the growing coronavirus crisis.

Harry and Meghan at the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“There are life and death situations for absolutely everybody,” Ms Junor said.

“If people are not fighting for their lives, they’re fighting for their livelihoods. We don’t know what the world is going to look like when we come out of all of this.

“I’m afraid Harry and Meghan’s decision is absolutely pushed to the back of the list of priorities.”

Ms Junor said Harry, as a trained military man, would have been keen to help and disappointed not to be able to play a role.

“From what I know of Harry, he would be sad to be away and not able to help,” she said.

“He’s a very caring, nurturing sort of person and he’s a soldier and soldiers step up when the going gets tough.”