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A move to California, a global pandemic and family tensions have kept Harry and Meghan apart from the royal family for two and a half years, and the distance was evident today as the royal households shared their birthday greetings for the couple’s son Archie. The youngster will celebrate his third birthday today at home in Montecito with his parents and younger sister Lilibet.
To mark the occasion, the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, and Kate and William all shared their greetings on social media at the exact same time. But in the absence of any family gatherings, both Prince Charles and the Cambridges were forced to two use identical pictures to last year, while the Queen chose a famous old snap of her meeting her great grandson in 2019.
The toddler, who is seventh-in-line to the throne, was last in the UK in the autumn of 2019, before the Sussexes left to spend Christmas in Canada, with pandemic travel restrictions hampering planned visits in the meantime.
Prince Harry last saw the Queen in April, when he and Meghan paid a flying secret visit to the UK ahead of traveling to The Netherlands for the Invictus Games, however they were not joined by their two children.
His relations with his father Prince Charles are still believed to be strained, after reports suggesting the pair were frosty with each other at a Windsor meeting during the trip. It was also reported that Prince William and wife Kate went ski ing to avoid meeting with the Duke of Sussex.
And Harry caused controversy by telling US TV host Hoda Kotb in an interview for the Today show that he sees himself as the Queen’s ‘protector’.
‘It was just so nice to see her, you know, she’s on great form, she’s always got a great sense of humor with me and I’m making sure she’s protected and got the right people around her,’ he said.
While Harry’s family may have spent some time with Archie when he lived in Windsor, it’s believed the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William have never met Lili, who was born in June 2021.
Today, the Royal Family Instagram account, which is managed by the Queen’s staff, shared the message: ‘Wishing Archie Mountbatten-Windsor a very happy 3rd birthday.’
Prince Charles’ more informal message reads: ‘Happy birthday Archie’, accompanied by a heart emoji. The accompanying black and white photograph shows Harry gazing down at Archie in his Christening robes while proud grandfather Prince Charles looks on, smiling.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge opted for a larger family photograph taken at Archie’s Christening, featuring Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland as well as Princess Diana’s sisters Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale. It was the same photo they shared the year prior for the toddler’s birthday.
Last year, on Archie’s second birthday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a photo of Archie, with his back to the camera, in the garden. They shared the image on their Archewell website, along with a request for people to donate money to support Covid-19 vaccination rollouts in developing countries. Additionally, it was reported that the young royal would enjoy a video call with his UK-based family members, including the Queen.
For Archie’s first birthday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a video of him reading a book with his mother in support of Save The Children. However, it remains to be seen if fans will be given a fresh glimpse of the toddler today. As of now, the last official snap of the Archie was shared last year, when he appeared in the Sussexes’ Christmas card snap alongside his parents and younger sister Lilibet.
It is also not yet known whether the toddler will have a chance to meet his extended family at the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee celebrations, as the Sussexes have yet to confirm whether they will attend. The celebrations will begin on Thursday June 2nd, running to Sunday June 5th, and royals are expected on the Buckingham Palace balcony at either end of the celebration.
But earlier this week, Omid Scobie, a friend of the Sussexes, said the Prince will play the rest of the 12 goal polo season at Santa Barbara, California, with his Los Padres teammates. His announcement followed the prince being snapped playing a friendly game of polo with his old friend Nacho Figuera at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club for the annual Harry East Memorial Tournament last week.
The Finding Freedom author says Harry will participate in the Folded Hills Pope Challenge between May 9th-15th, Lisle Nixon Cup from May 20th-29th as well as the Cheval Athletics USPA Intra-Circuit which runs June 3rd-19th.
While Harry could still attend main events if his schedule permits, royal experts have noted that the Sussexes have yet to confirm whether they will take part or not. According to royal author Tom Bower, this delay in confirmation is deliberate on Harry and Meghan’s part, and they are encouraging the uncertainty ‘because their status and income depends on constant mention in the media’.
He told MailOnline: ‘There have always been serious doubts that Harry and Meghan would come to the celebrations. Firstly because as private citizens they could not be in the spotlight on the balcony.’
‘Secondly because Princes Charles and William are furious about their lies about them in the Oprah Winfrey interview and, after Harry’s recent NBC interview, no longer trust him and Meghan to behave properly. Third, because Meghan hasn’t got the courage to face Kate after her misleading allegations in the Oprah interview.’
He continued: ‘Meghan fears the bad headlines if she returns to Britain. However we don’t know how the continuing argument among Palace officials and the Royal Family will finally be resolved.’
‘They encourage the uncertainty because their status and income depends on constant mention in the media. They are addicted to preening their self-importance. Unfortunately the damage their deliberate public ‘indecision’ is causing to the monarchy is impossible to prevent. It’s all part of their financial strategy.’