King Charles loves Harry. That’s a given. No, actually more than a given.
I remember the expression of genuine pride on his face as he joined Harry at his inaugural Invictus Games in London in 2014, visibly marveling at the performance of his oft-underestimated youngest son. “My dear boy…” he beamed admiringly, patting him on the back.
But Charles is not just a father, he is a king.
And I know from countless conversations with royal insiders over the past few months that he feels he owes it to his country to act like a monarch, regardless of the repetitive family drama.
Therefore, as I understand it, he has provided support bold steps to ‘evict’ his son and his family from their home at Frogmore Cottage.
King Charles loves Harry. That’s a given. No, actually more than a given. But Charles is not just a father, he is a king
As I understand it, (Charles) has supported bold moves to ‘evict’ his son and his family from their home at Frogmore Cottage (Pictured: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Frogmore Cottage)
It’s a risky decision, and one that the Sussexes’ coterie of media defenders have already seized on in their attempts to portray the Duke and Duchess as victims of a protectionist and ruthless institution (although how they reconcile this with the fact that the pontifying pair have made clear that they see their future in the US, leaving an entire house vacant for more than 11 months a year is anyone’s guess).
There’s no question that the timing of the move – days after the publication of Harry’s controversial and damning memoir, Spare – would seem to suggest it was an act of retaliation.
And surely there are many in the royal household who will smile contentedly at the sight of the back of the ‘unfaithful duo’, as some call them.
Indeed, as I reported on Saturday, there is still a lot of ill will ‘boiling over’ at Buckingham Palace over the couple’s behavior in recent months and neither the King nor the Prince of Wales are in the mood to concede to Harry’s temper tantrums.
But Charles is not a vindictive man and while he was deeply hurt by much of what he understands his son had said about him and his wife (he still hasn’t read Harry’s memoirs and has no intention of doing so), I told that this move had been in the planning for a while.
The royal family, you see, has something of a housing crisis.
Not the kind of crisis that so many of the King’s subjects face, it must be said.
More the fact that they have an abundance of large houses and not enough people to justify their existence as lavish private homes – except, oddly enough, Windsor, which is proving to be a bit of a bottleneck.
The problem arose due to the decision of the Prince and Princess of Wales to move their family from their large apartment in Kensington Palace to the royal family’s estate in Berkshire.
If the Crown Estate’s decision to pull the plug on Harry and Meghan’s lease on Frogmore Cottage (pictured) is both a practical and a financial one, it’s also a move that could seriously backfire
For now they’re in Adelaide Cottage, a not indecent abode by anyone’s standards, but with only four bedrooms (not even one for the nanny) they live cheek to cheek.
As someone familiar with their situation tells me, “The kids go to playdates in homes that are much bigger and grander than theirs.”
Granted, a first-world problem, but one that would be solved if, say, a 30-room, seven-bedroom property like Prince Andrew’s Royal Lodge became vacant.
If, of course, he could be persuaded to do so ‘downgraded’ to five bedroom Frogmore Cottage instead, he would vehemently oppose a move. Who knows where this carousel of mansions will end?
But if the Crown Estate’s decision to pull the plug on Harry and Meghan’s lease is both a practical and a financial one, it’s also one that could seriously backfire.
Not only will it add another log to Harry and Meghan’s funeral pyre of alleged injustices against them (and certainly enough beef for another chapter of a forthcoming book), it will once and for all sever any physical ties the pair have with the UK .
And because they will no longer benefit from the fence of safety that Windsor affords them, the Duke and Duchess will inevitably claim – no doubt through lawsuits and ‘friends’ informing the media – that future visits to Britain will be inconvenient for them and their children are now infinitely more complex.
They can stay with family or friends, but let’s face it, they argue with so many people that this isn’t even a realistic option on the table.
It raises the question of whether Charles will ever see his grandchildren again?
More directly, it now also gives Harry and Meghan the perfect excuse not to attend the coronation.
Because while they’ve apparently been given until the beginning of summer to pack up and move in, the welcome mat isn’t being dusted.