Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have started to formalize their departure from the royal family. Harry’s uncle, Prince Andrew, is set to turn 60 on February 19, but sources say that Harry and Meghan have declined the invitation to attend his party.
According to broadcaster Neil Sean, Harry and Meghan will remain in Canada instead of attending the royal festivities. This is one of the first clear examples of the royal couple electing to opt out of a formal royal gathering.
“A mole [told] me, ‘It’s an open secret they declined the invite but it’s not very nice for the queen as, whatever people say and think, he is [still] her son and she wanted her close family around her,’” Sean told Fox News. “’The reason given is that they already have commitments on the day but also plan to send a gift/card and a video message to be played at the party.”
In addition to being Harry’s uncle, Andrew has also caused plenty of controversy inside the royal family.
In 2019, Andrew was asked to step back from the royal family after an interview with the BBC in which he failed to adequately explain his past relationship with accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Originally, the queen was planning a large gathering for her son’s birthday. Now, Sean says that the family will only get together for a small family gathering.
Although Andrew has stepped back from most of his public-facing duties, he will walk his daughter Beatrice down the aisle during her wedding in May.
Sean said it’s still unclear whether Harry and Meghan plan to attend the event. “Fans will have to wait and see if Meghan and Harry attend this event,” he said. “A mole [told] me, ‘Beatrice really got on well with Meghan and is sad she left, but so far they have been unable to keep that friendship going.’ Others though [say] that Meghan values her own PR and believes any association right now with the brand of York may not be that great for the couple earning power outside the royal family.”
Although Andrew has caused controversy because of his relationship with Epstein, reports suggest that he remains close with his family. In January, authorities announced that Andrew had refused to work with investigators who were still looking into Epstein’s case.
According to The New York Post, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters that Andrew had refused to cooperate. “The Southern District of New York and the FBI have contacted Prince Andrew’s attorneys and requested to interview Prince Andrew, and to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation,” Berman said.