Harry and Meghan become second-row royals as other next-gen Windsors step up

Whether by design or by circumstance, the Queen’s absence from the second and third days of her Platinum Jubilee has moved the minds of the public to the next generation of royals.

The images of the Buckingham Palace balcony on Thursday showed an ageing monarch with members of the family who are now most important.

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, James, Viscount Severn, Lady Louise Windsor and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex on the balcony of Buckingham Palace watch the RAF flypast during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 2 for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.Credit:Getty

Her son and heir, Charles and his wife Camilla, who will be the next queen, stand to her right. And to her left is Prince William, his wife Catherine and their three children, including George, currently fourth in line and also expected to one day inherit the throne.

Prince Harry and Meghan might be salacious tabloid fodder, but there are no longer in the front-row royals. They have been virtually cast aside as have-nots of their own choosing.

You can expect that the royals of the women’s magazine and gossip rags will soon enough make George, Charlotte and Louis the latest stars, much like their father and uncle were, and their grandfather two generations before them.

And so, the Queen’s absence from the St Paul’s national service of thanksgiving was further evidence that the House of Windsor is preparing to turn a page in its history.

Making their own official appearance at the Jubilee’s thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral, Prince Harry and Meghan are now very much second-row royals. Credit:Getty

The family has been through its own problems and the St Paul’s service cast a light on its attempts to reinvent itself and prepare for life after the Queen.

Charles, heir to the throne, led the royal party at the cathedral. In recent weeks he has stood in for his mother at other events, including the state opening of parliament last month and Thursday’s trooping of the colour.

It was the Cambridge children’s first appearance in a carriage for Trooping the Colour. They have previously been thought too young to appear in the open-topped carriages but their parents decided that the Jubilee bank holiday weekend was the correct time to make their debut, taking a small step forward in their public lives as members of the Royal family, central to its future.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were the only young children on the balcony as part of a slimmed-down display of working royals and their immediate families.

Images of cheeky Louis dominated the coverage and provided much light-hearted relief for a nation facing economic turmoil and political division.

Soon enough, Kate and William’s children will be the stars of the royal family, as their parents were before them.Credit:Chris Jackson Collection

The platinum jubilee celebrations come at a time of national hardship, as Britain contends with the biggest squeeze on living standards in a generation, with inflation heading for 10 per cent and heating and food costs spiralling.

The Queen’s role as a unifying presence in Britain’s national life has endured however that will something hard to match for Charles. And there next generation will the ones who have to reassess their relationship with former colonies in the Black Lives Matter era, after the public relations disaster around the visit to the Caribbean this year by William and Catherine.

Some in the UK remain indifferent to the monarchy, considering their lavish lifestyles. Some are even hostile.

Which is why Charles and William have made sure the nation has potentially seen that last of Prince Andrew, disgraced and no longer a working royal, on the big stage.

His reputation has been shattered by his association with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and may never recover.

Earlier this year he paid millions of pounds to Virginia Giuffre, who had accused him of rape, although he has consistently denied her allegations.

No doubt to the relief of courtiers, he could not attend the thanksgiving service because he’d test positive for COVID-19.

Harry and Meghan were given a largely positive welcome by the crowd at the service, but there were some jeers for them too. Most of those, however, were reserved for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Amid speculation of continued frosty relations between Harry and William, the Sussexes were sat on the other side of the aisle to the Cambridges, which meant there could be no visible communication between them.

Royal choreographers allowed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to walk down the aisle on their own — giving them a moment in the spotlight and suggesting a rapprochement with the couple, who now live in California.

It is the Queen who is most keen to make peace with the couple. She met her great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time after inviting the family to a private lunch with senior royals during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The event was held behind closed doors following the Trooping the Colour, when thousands of people descended onto the Mall in central London.

Lilibet turns one this weekend – but its unlikely we will see images from a birthday party scheduled for Frogmore cottage.

It is all part of the plan to ensure the monarchy continues to play a role in offering stability and continuity in such difficult times, now and into the future.

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