In 2019, Prince William snubbed Prince Harry over a Christmas photo of the royal family—and according to a new claim by one royal expert, the Duke of Cambridge did it to send his younger brother “a message” about his place in the royal family.
Followers of the royal family may remember the photo in question: In January, Buckingham Palace released a portrait of Prince William, 38, and his eldest son, Prince George, 7, posing next to Prince Charles, 71, and the Queen, 94, herself—a portrait marking the family’s line of succession. While it was released in the New Year, however, the photo was reportedly taken over the Christmas holiday, right around the same time that Prince Harry, 36, and wife Meghan Markle, 39, decided to spend Christmas in Canada with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. It seems the photo was purposefully arranged so as to not include Prince Harry in its discussion.
“A new portrait of The Queen and The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince George has been released to mark the start of a new decade,” read a post shared to the Kensington Royal Instagram page at the time. “Wishing all of our followers a happy and healthy 2020!”
But royal expert Robert Lacey, the author of the new royal tell-all Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of A Family in Tumult, claims that the Duke of Cambridge wanted to send more than New Year’s greetings with the portrait. The photo was reportedly his father’s idea, and William eagerly went along with it: “According to insiders, this formal photograph, taken in the Buckingham Palace Throne Room a week before Christmas 2019, was the idea of Prince Charles, anxious to promote his cause of the ‘slimmed-down monarchy,’” Lacey writes in his book.
The royal historian and consultant to Netflix’s The Crown adds that William “enthusiastically supported” his father’s idea to only include “the direct line of royal succession” in the photograph. And while he admits that the Duke of Cambridge didn’t “say anything for the record” when it came to their succession portrait, it was clear that he “wanted to send his younger brother a message” by snubbing him from the photoshoot.
Meanwhile, Meghan and Harry were weeks away from announcing their plan to step back from their roles as senior working members of the royal family in January—a decision that has since resulted in their formal royal exit in April and a move to the United States, where they currently have a home in Santa Barbara, California with their 1-year-old son, Archie. And it looks like they may be following in 2019’s footsteps and spending the holidays apart from the royal family again in 2020: “At this stage they are really enjoying their new life in California and their new home,” a source told Vanity Fair in October. “There are currently no plans for them to return to the U.K. for Christmas.”
Earlier that month, a source also revealed to the Daily Mail that the Sussexes may be spending the holidays with actress and singer, Katerine McPhee, and her husband, David Foster, in addition to Meghan’s mother. “Meghan very much wants to host the first Christmas at their new home with her mum,” the source said at the time. “She’s really excited and is planning on doing all the traditions she grew up with as a child, including the cooking.”
The newspaper’s source added, “They’ve also invited David and Katherine to spend it with them. David had mentioned Harry and Meghan going to theirs but Meghan wants it at home. They want to get on with their new lives. Christmas with Harry’s family is not in the plan.”
Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of A Family in Tumult is available to purchase on Amazon.
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