Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not be on the Buckingham Palace balcony during a key Platinum Jubilee event—but Queen Elizabeth II’s obscure cousins will be.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not get invited to appear at the high profile moment in Elizabeth’s birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, on June 2, because they are not working royals.
They will, however, attend other Platinum Jubilee events and there is a chance there may be another balcony appearance during celebrations.
Their exclusion comes despite the presence on the balcony of several royals who are anonymous even to most of Britain.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Cousins Invited to Trooping the Colour
Princess Alexandra, the Duke of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester all still perform royal duties and have therefore been given a slot at one of the most symbolic moments for family members at celebrations of the queen’s 70-year reign.
However, the four are so obscure that they are not among the 15 royals included in regular public opinion research by YouGov.
The polling agency asked the British public about the four in 2015 during a poll about who should receive public funding—which is reserved for working royals—with 81 percent of respondents saying the queen’s cousins should not get a slice of the Sovereign Grant money given to working family members.
The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra are related to Elizabeth as children of her uncle Prince George, while the Duke of Gloucester is the son of another uncle, Prince Henry.
Prince George and Prince Henry were never monarchs but were brothers to Elizabeth’s father King George VI and uncle King Edward VIII.
Slimming Down the Monarchy
Harry and Meghan are not the only high profile royals who won’t be on the balcony at Trooping the Colour, as Prince Andrew and his children Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie will also not be there.
The Duke of York retreated from public life in disgrace after a car crash interview about Jeffrey Epstein in November 2019 and in March settled a lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre after she accused him of raping her when she was 17.
However, Andrew’s daughters have been out of the fold for far longer owing to efforts by Prince Charles to slim down the monarchy.
The future king campaigned internally within the royal family to exclude his brothers from their duties as working royals but Andrew and Edward resisted.
They did not, however, carve out roles for their children, meaning Beatrice and Eugenie are not paid public money and do not receive police security.
Historian Robert Lacey described Charles’ efforts to reduce the number of working royals in his book Battle of Brothers.
He wrote: “This was Prince Charles’ special crusade. In an age of slimming, the future monarch wanted to slim down the House of Windsor.
“Charles’ idea was to reduce the public face of the monarchy to just the sovereign and their consort, plus those children and grandchildren who were directly in the senior bloodline—with no more uncles and cousins to be reckoned up by the dozen, no more aunts.”
He added: “Charles felt that his brothers Andrew and Edward should step back as part of the slimming process.”
The queen’s cousins likely continue to perform royal duties because they are of her generation and therefore harder for Charles to axe.
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Prince Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Interview
Slimming down the monarchy provided an unspoken subtext to some of the biggest moments in Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast in March 2021.
An insider at the time told Newsweek that when the couple spoke of their son Archie being denied security and the title “prince,” they were referring to the slimming down campaign.
Archie is cousin to the Duke and Duchess of Cambrige’s son Prince George and in time, when the latter becomes king, will on paper hold a similar position in the royal family to the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and the Duke of Gloucester.
However, for now, the monarchy risks appearing to cut out its most famous and high profile members while allowing relatively obscure royals from a bygone age to take pride of place on the balcony.
On the other hand, Elizabeth’s four cousins will likely be the only royals on the balcony who actually remember the celebrated moment she became queen 70 years ago, when Charles was three and Princess Anne was one.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in a statement released to Newsweek: “After careful consideration, The Queen has decided this year’s traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance on Thursday 2nd June will be limited to Her Majesty and those Members of the Royal Family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of The Queen.”
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said: “Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are excited and honored to attend the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this June with their children.”