Couple ‘excited and honoured to attend’ with their children – but they will not be seen during the big moment at Buckingham Palace .
They will not be seen on the Buckingham Palace balcony at the opening of the Jubilee. But they will be coming – and bringing their children too.
In a dramatically timed announcement that surprised even some at the palace, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Friday confirmed that they would bring Archie and Lilibet to Britain to join the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
They shared the news minutes after Buckingham Palace ruled them out of a Royal family appearance on the balcony for Trooping the Colour, as well as the fly past and photographs to open the Jubilee celebrations.
The Queen had already decided they would not be invited to the popular and much-filmed “balcony moment”, ruling only those “currently undertaking official public duties” on her behalf will be there.
After news of her decision was shared as part of plans for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which run between June 2 to 5, a spokesman for the Sussexes confirmed that the family would nevertheless fly to the UK.
“Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are excited and honoured to attend the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this June with their children,” she said, in a message sent 17 minutes after the palace’s announcement.
It is understood that Archewell, the Sussexes team, had been told of the Queen’s decision about Trooping the Colour, and that it was to be announced.
Pointedly, neither they nor the palace would on Friday night confirm when aides had learned of the Sussexes’ decision to come, nor whether the Duke had spoken separately to his grandmother, the Queen.
It is understood to have been a last-minute decision, with the Sussexes’ team maintaining they had not decided whether to come until right at the last minute.
The palace had already been at pains to stress that the Sussexes would be welcomed to “family events” at the Jubilee.
They are likely to include the Big Jubilee Lunches, the pageant or even watching Trooping the Colour from another venue.
The Duke and Duchess could attend the St Paul’s Cathedral service of thanksgiving, although Archie and Lilibet would be considered too young by royal convention.
The Queen intends to appear on the balcony herself for the annual Trooping the Colour event celebrating her official birthday on June 2.
She will be joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
Although they are not official working members of the Royal family because of their age, the Cambridges’ children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will also be invited, along with the Wessex children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. Sir Timothy Laurence, the husband of the Princess Royal, will also be there in recognition of his enduring support of her work.
The Duke of York, who stepped down following revelations about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, is also off the Trooping the Colour balcony guest list.
His daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie, who have been on the balcony in the past, along with Peter Phillips and his family, will not attend.
The Duke of Sussex recently said that he would like to bring his children to visit the Queen, with Archie meeting her only as a small baby. Lilibet, named for the monarch’s childhood nickname, has never met her.
The Queen “intends” to attend Trooping the Colour and the St Paul’s Cathedral service, with modifications made for her comfort.
There will be no procession to the cathedral, with the Queen making a low-key entrance through a side door rather than walking up the steps to the main west entrance.
She is “looking forward” to taking part in the celebrations over the Jubilee weekend, her spokesman said, with any attendance at other events to be confirmed at the last minute.
The 96-year-old will not take an active role in the pageant route, with the Gold State Coach instead having its first outing in 20 years after a revamp to allow it to screen footage of the young Queen.
The coach, which has been used at coronations and jubilees since 1762, will open the pageant, drawn by eight Windsor Grey horses.
Its windows have been remodelled for the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee, and will show archive film footage of Coronation Day in 1953 “evoking the image of the young Queen in the coach”.