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Prince Harry Departs Scotland After Leaving Meghan Markle Behind to Be With Queen Elizabeth II

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Prince Harry has left Scotland after rushing to be with his family after news broke that Queen Elizabeth II’s health was failing. By Friday, the royal family began to trickle back to London, with Prince Harry departing alone in the morning.

In addition to the “senior royals,” including the Queen’s eldest son, the now King Charles III and Prince William, Prince Harry also flew to Scotland on Thursday to be with his grandmother—and was pictured as the last to arrive at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands. A statement from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said that Meghan Markle would be staying behind in London.

William’s wife, Kate Middleton, did not travel to Scotland on Thursday and stayed behind at their home in Windsor, England—possibly to look after their three children.

The Queen’s death could have implications for Harry and Meghan’s children. Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1, will now have the opportunity to inherit the royal titles of Prince and Princess. This could be of interest to their parents who were disappointed last year over the lack of police protection that their children received. Per a 1917 edict, the monarch’s grandchildren all receive Prince or Princess titles. However, there’s been speculation of if King Charles III could change this rule. He’s previously shared his desire to “slim down” the British monarchy.

Queen Elizabeth II death
The Duke of Sussex arrives at Balmoral in Scotland. The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022, Buckingham Palace has announced.Andrew Milligan–PA Images/Getty Images

Prince Harry’s attendance at his grandmother’s side, along with his brother and father comes amid a very public falling out between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the royal family. Just one week ago, New York magazine’s The Cut published a controversial interview with Meghan, in which she continued to speak critically about her time as a working royal. She also discussed how “toxic tabloid culture” strained the relationship between Prince Harry and his father, Prince Charles.

Harry and Meghan, who live in California, were already in the U.K. at the time of the announcement about the Queen’s health for a European trip to attend charity events that are “close to their hearts.” The couple had plans to make stops in Manchester, Dusseldorf and London but, according to U.K.’s Daily Express, they did not originally have plans to visit the Queen during their trip.

They had been due to appear at the WellChild Awards in London on Thursday. While Meghan is staying in London, she will not be attending the awards, the couple said. The last time Harry and Meghan were in the country was for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June. Their return to the U.K. comes days after the 25th anniversary of the death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex after attending the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations on June 3, 2022 in London, England.Toby Melville—WPA Pool/Getty Images

On Thursday, Buckingham Palace issued a rare statement on the Queen’s health saying that her doctors “are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.” The royal family released news of her death hours later.

The Queen, 96, was sick with COVID-19 in February and had to forgo several significant public appearances since then due to mobility issues and health concerns, including opening Parliament in May and the Platinum Jubilee celebration marking her 70th anniversary as the country’s monarch in June. Other confirmed members of the royal family rushed to join the Queen, including King Charles’ wife, newly-minted Queen Consort Camilla, and the rest of the Queen’s four children: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

Balmoral Castle is the royal family’s Scottish home in Aberdeenshire where the Queen typically stayed from August through October. The Queen’s mobility issues prompted Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Lizz Truss both to travel to Balmoral. Over the Queen’s 70-year reign, she appointed each new Prime Minister at Buckingham Palace in London, until now. Johnson formally resigned as Prime Minister during an audience with the Queen on Tuesday and shortly after the Queen fulfilled the ceremonial transfer of power by appointing Lizz Truss as the new British prime minister.

More than two years have passed since Harry and Meghan decided to take a step back from being involved in the royal family. They resigned from all their royal duties permanently in an effort to avoid the intense media scrutiny and pressure that they said they had faced. Since the couple decided to resign and move to California, they maintained a relationship with the Queen and Harry reportedly kept the Queen updated about their lives and their children.

“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” the couple said in Jan. 2020.

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