It’s time for one of the most mind-numbing games if you’re a royal watcher or a Sussex watcher: tracing a rumor to its source. The reason we’re doing this is because Gordon Rayner wrote a truly bonkers piece in the Telegraph called “Charles and Harry are talking… but is a reunion a bridge too far?” I thought it would just be stating the obvious, which is that one birthday phone call is a good first step between father and son, but no one should get ahead of themselves. But no, Rayner has seemingly been tasked by Buckingham Palace to blame the entire days-long “will Harry call his father” psychodrama on Camp Sussex, as if the palace hasn’t been openly briefing about the Sussexes all along. Like the palace didn’t get called out BY HARRY for lying just last week!
So, if you’re keeping track: the BBC got a “tip” on Tuesday that Harry would call his father on his birthday. The Archewell spokesperson said as much last week, when they denied the “Harry snubbed his father’s party invitation” story. Then on Wednesday, the Sun got the “tip” that Harry had called and the king also spoke to Meghan. Then the Telegraph’s Vicky Ward got the tip that not only did Charles speak to Harry and Meghan, they also sent Charles a video of Archie and Lili singing happy birthday. The Sun and Victoria Ward’s pieces read, to me, like they came from Buckingham Palace sources, that Charles was extremely eager to use Harry and Meghan’s names this week. But please allow Gordon Rayner to make wild claims about how Harry and Meghan are apparently regularly calling up the Sun and the BBC to brief them on phone calls?
The phone call story came from Camp Sussex??? Is this really a “turning point” in the relationship between the King and his younger son, as the Sussex camp would have us believe? If so, why is Buckingham Palace so reluctant even to acknowledge that a phone call took place? Or is it just more spin designed to put Harry on the moral high ground in the ongoing battle for public sympathy? The fact that the Palace does not deny there was a call means we can safely assume that there was indeed a conversation between Harry and his father on Tuesday. That in itself is significant, because the two have barely spoken since Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, and there was no contact at all when the Duke of Sussex celebrated his 39th birthday in September.
Sources in California?? Which leaves the questions of: who instigated the call? Why? And why did they want the public to know about it? The answer to the first part of the question is straightforward, as we know that sources in California have said Harry phoned his father, sent him a video of his children Archie and Lilibet singing Happy Birthday to him, and that the Duchess of Sussex also spoke to the King. As to the why, well-placed sources have confirmed that Harry tries to contact his father on every birthday, and is not always successful.
This is still the most idiotic rationale ascribed to the Sussexes: There are lots of moving parts in this particular royal story. The Sussexes are a commercial enterprise, needing to generate vast sums to pay for their lifestyle in the US, not least their privately funded security bill. Without their royal connection, the Sussexes are just another celebrity couple (and in the US the media has already given them that status) rather than having the sheen of monarchy. If they remain frozen out and nothing changes, they will quickly run out of things to say.
Overshadowing the Coronation Food Project! The Palace’s reaction to briefings about the phone call was telling. Royal insiders say that when the news of the happy birthday call threatened to overshadow media coverage of the launch of the King’s Coronation Food Project, which had been months in the planning, there was irritation bordering on annoyance.
The king leaks that he’s wary of being accused of leaking: “It’s a reflex,” said one royal insider. “The King and Queen worry that if stories about phone calls and private conversations make it into the public domain they will be accused of leaking to the press, even if it’s obvious it didn’t come from them. They just think ‘it’s in the public domain, and public domain equals bad’. Even if this had been the most positive story in the world from the King’s point of view, it would still have generated anxiety for him,” the insider added.
Maybe this mess is coming from Camilla? The Queen’s influence over the King can never be ignored, and she would have every right to be suspicious of Harry and Meghan’s motives after the Duke accused her of “sacrificing me on her personal PR altar” in his memoir Spare at the start of this year.
[From The Telegraph]
Rayner also suggests that Meghan is desperate for a royal connection (lmao) because she’s on the verge of launching a lifestyle brand (lmao), which was a rumor started by bored royalists who are obsessed with Meghan. Let me also say that the long-standing argument that the Sussexes “need” a royal connection has grown more strained by the year. Harry and Meghan are thriving, so much so that the Windsors are desperate for the Sussexes’ star-power, celebrity connections and clout. The Windsors clout-chase the Sussexes, not vice versa.
So, what is really happening here? Part of me thinks that this piece came about because there’s some confusion and disagreement in King Charles’s court. One faction wants to brief about the Sussexes as much as possible to deflect from Charles and Camilla’s unpopularity. Another faction thinks that it’s probably unwise to go on such obvious briefing sprees the second they get any contact from Harry. Whoever assigned Gordon Rayner with cleaning up the palace’s mess didn’t expect him to be so heavy-handed and obvious.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.
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