When Lilibet meets little Lilibet … the image that could still heal a royal fissure, writes RICHARD KAY

Not for the first time in the queenfrom the long reign, all eyes will be on the balcony of Buckingham Palace today at lunch, while the ceremony of Trooping the Color launches a place for the ear-splitting roar of RAF passing by.

Over the years, this scene has offered a wonderful view of who is in and who is out, as once known figures have been mixed to the margins of royal life.

This time, however, the show is rivaled by another event, with much more riding on the show.

Because it will give us the fascinating view of Prince Harry and Meghan publicly reuniting with other members of the Royal Family for the first time since their frozen departure from Britain more than two years ago.

It should also offer a view of their children: Archie, three, and daughter Lilibet, one on Saturday, who is ready to meet her great-grandmother for the first time. Although her grandson and his children are excluded from the spectacle of the Palace reunion, the queen insisted that they receive the same courtesies extended to wider members of the royal family.

They will join the Duchess of Cambridge and her three children, who are cousins ​​of Archie and Lilibet, with a Horse Guards Parade auditorium where Trooping takes place.

Harry and Meghan, along with her mother Doria Ragland, introduce Archie to the Queen and Prince Philip in May 2019

The first picture of the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (above) published in a Christmas card last year

The first picture of the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (above) published in a Christmas card last year

The significance of this olive branch invitation cannot be overstated. Because it offers the real opportunity not only to heal the gap between the Sussex and the royal family, but also to repair the Windsor House brand, which, at least in America, has been severely tainted by the interplay of Harry and Meghan.

In addition, it could ensure that the couple, who cannot be sure of the reaction they will receive from the public during the four days of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, are met with warmth rather than stone indifference.

Goodwill is far from guaranteed. The couple’s latest approval ratings can’t escape their attention: according to YouGov polls, the duke is viewed positively by only one Briton out of three, while more than half see him in a negative light, giving him a clear approval rating. from minus 26. Meghan felt even worse, with her approval rating from minus 39 in March to minus 42.

So if there is an approach, it will take more than just a photo shoot, no matter how artistically arranged. With their accusations of racism, claims of cold indifference from both family members and staff, and the memory of the interview with Oprah Winfrey still strong, faith in the Duke and Duchess remains little supply.

But the Queen is determined that the Jubilee should be a time to put aside differences and unite both the country and her family – hence her offer of ring seats for Harry and Meghan.

Harry and Meghan were pictured during their controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey last year

Harry and Meghan were pictured during their controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey last year

Harry and Meghan were pictured together at a volleyball event during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark in April

Harry and Meghan were pictured together at a volleyball event during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark in April

The Sussex are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage, where they will hold a small party for Lilibet, which may be attended by the Queen.

The Sussex are expected to stay at Frogmore Cottage, where they will hold a small party for Lilibet, which may be attended by the Queen.

The role of Baby Lilibet can be crucial. When the couple announced that they were giving their daughter the name Lilibet, the nickname of the queen’s family, it was seen as an arrogant choice for a baby who, though eighth in line to the throne, would grow up across the world, speaking. with an American accent.

Courtiers saw it as an impertinent, somewhat cynical exercise in securing the long-term future of the Sussex as members of the royal family. Some wondered if they had even asked for the Queen’s permission.

But time is of the essence, and I know that the 96-year-old Queen is looking forward to meeting her 11th great-grandchild. Although such a meeting could be held today, it may be postponed until Lilibet’s birthday on Saturday.

If so, this would almost certainly happen in the Queen’s private residences at Windsor Castle. But the timing would depend on whether there is a late change of plan and the Queen finally goes to the Derby, despite reports that she does not expect a presence.

And if it does, imagine if an image was published. A photo of Lilibet meeting Lilibet would be a more eloquent symbol of family unity and forgiveness than any anonymous briefing.

It could also be a powerful metaphor for things to come. Even Prince Philip’s decision to put aside his enmity towards the Duchess of York and pose next to her for photographs at Princess Eugenie’s wedding was seen as a sign of pity for the capricious Fergie.

It is no coincidence that, to mark the third birthday of her great-grandson Archie last month, the Palace reissued that memorable picture of Harry and Meghan depicting their newborn son to the Queen and Philip at Windsor Castle, with the mother of the Duchess Doria. watching.

It is one of the queen’s favorite images from a time when the bitterness of Harry and Meghan’s departure for California was far removed and the image of the royal family seemed inclusive and diverse. How times have changed.

Harry and Meghan landed at London airport this afternoon, with a small team of employees, Page Six reported

Harry and Meghan landed at London airport this afternoon, with a small team of employees, Page Six reported

With their TV interviews, the couple painted the royal family as distant, careless and untouched. However, other family members, including Prince Charles, support the Queen’s generous gesture to the Sussex – although there are nerves between figures in the Royal Household.

These worries focus on what happens to Harry’s “intimate and heartfelt” memory. It was originally reportedly published this fall but there is no sign of it in any pre-published list. Helpers do not know whether the manuscript was sent to publishers or is still being processed by the prince and his ghostwriter.

The influential commentator and author Tina Brown suggested that the Palace take steps to persuade the prince to leave the book. “Someone has to go to Harry and try to say, ‘We’re going to give you a check for whatever payment you negotiated for the book, and we’re asking you not to do it.’

Given the fact that Harry is said to have secured a £ 16 million advance for the book, that could be beyond even deep royal pockets. But at the very least, they might be able to get him to soften his content.

Helpers are also investigating reports that Harry and Meghan may be tempted to return to the royal herd if their media careers show less lasting than they had hoped. Their deals with the repressive streaming giant Netflix no longer seem so promising, while the arrangement with Spotify is still in full swing.

Currently, there is no doubt that the couple is on probation during their four-day stay.

What no one knows is how, regardless of the generosity shown by the Queen, Harry and Meghan will react to their very reduced walking roles in this Jubilee story. Ten years ago at the Diamond Jubilee and 20 years ago at the Golden Jubilee, Harry was a central figure in the festivities and in every balcony a money shot.

Today, how long he has traveled to the edge of royal life will be uncomfortably clear to him. But it is only possible that the daughter he named after his beloved grandmother, and his son, could still hold his way back to the way it was.

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