PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle are still barely speaking to Prince William and Kate Middleton and face a “very awkward” encounter when the ‘Frosty Four’ reunite, royal sources claim.
The Royal Family has a packed diary of big events in the coming year that the Sussexes would look rude to miss – not least the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana that Wills and Harry commissioned together.
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The ‘Fab Four’ seemed frosty when they were last seen together publicly at the Queen’s Commonwealth Day Service in March, shortly after Megxit was confirmed.
Royal sources suggest the two couples are still barely talking – and if anything have grown further apart.
William and Kate have continued their royal duties keeping Britain together through the coronavirus pandemic while Harry and Meghan pursued a mega-bucks TV deal with Netflix and championed causes close to their hearts, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
But the group could now be reunited at a number of events in 2021, including the Queen’s 95th birthday, Prince Philip’s 100th and the unveiling of Princess Diana’s statue.
“I think it’s going to be very awkward if they do meet up,” Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan In Their Own Words, told The Sun Online.
“From what I am told the rift is not a lot better at the moment – they are not talking a lot.
“I think they will put on a united front for the unveiling of Diana’s statue and I’m sure they will put on a united front for the birthday celebrations but behind the scenes I think there’s going to be a lot of tension.”
It is not yet known which events Meghan and Harry will come back for – and all will depend on whether coronavirus restrictions allow.
With the majority of England plunged into Tier 3 and Tier 4 restrictions this morning, any potential trip could well be delayed.
ROYAL CALENDAR 2021
The Queen’s birthday on April 21 is likely to be the first celebration where Covid measures could be lifted – but would likely be celebrated privately before her official birthday on June 12.
Before then, the Royal Family is expected to reassess Megxit, which The Sun revealed Harry hopes to return for in the New Year – although the latest restrictions could scupper these plans.
Meghan and Harry could also present themselves on Zoom as they have with many other recent engagements.
It’s likely that Harry will attend the Invictus Games in The Hague in May and could swing by the UK during his trip.
He could also coincide his visit with the Queen’s official birthday (June 12) and The Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th (June 10) – although it is not yet known how Prince Philip will mark the occasion.
But Mr Dampier said: “Harry is clearly not going to be able to come to all of these events.
“He can’t keep to-ing and fro-ing back and forth so I dont think it’s likely that he will be at more than two or three of them at the most.
“I’m sure he’s going to be in Europe for the Invictus Games and I’m sure he will be at the unveiling of Diana’s statue.
“I think the most interesting thing to see will be whether Meghan comes over for any of these things. I’m sure Harry will but it wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t come over at all.”
The unveiling of Princess Diana’s memorial statue is due to take place on July 1 at Kensington Palace.
William and Harry commissioned the statue earlier this year to be unveiled on what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday.
The brothers gave a rare joint statement for the occasion, announcing together that they “hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy.”
And the unveiling in July could see the brothers unite once more.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said it will be “very important that relations are as cordial and amiable and as warm as possible” adding that the Royal Family “would go to great lengths to conceal anything.”
He told The Sun Online: “What is likely to happen is a show of royal unity and the royals know how to put that on.
“I think that the emphasis will be on unity, on welcome, on amiability and it will be terrific to celebrate the Duke at 100 , the Queen at 95 and also Diana – it will be an amazing period.”
He added: “The choreography will be very different because people will have learnt from the way that the Commonwealth Day Service was handled and what appeared to be picked up by television cameras, won’t occur.”
“I think there’s no question at all that we will expect to see both of them – certainly Harry – at that time and possibly for quite a while. I would have thought it would be very likely that Meghan would accompany him. Hopefully with Archie because it would be wonderful if the duke sees his grandson again.”
Other possible events Harry could return for are the The Rugby League World Cup next Autumn, of which he is patron, and Meghan’s court case against the Mail on Sunday, expected to take place next October.
But it is not yet clear where and how long the Duke and Duchess would stay for any given trip in the UK.
I think it’s more likely that they’ll stay on the move or stay with friends or in a hotel.
The pair handed over the keys of their old Frogmore Cottage home to Princess Eugenie and hubby Jack Brooksbank last month and have not been back since.
Phil Dampier said: “I think it’s more likely that they’ll stay on the move or stay with friends or stay in a hotel.
“I can’t see them moving back to Frogmore Cottage and the fact that they’ve reportedly moved their stuff out tends to indicate that they’ve got no intention of coming back.”
Tea with the Queen, however, is not out of the question.
“The Queen is always a pragmatist and she’ll always do whatever she can to heal any rifts,” he said.
“She will obviously go out of her way to try and see him and invite him over for a meal or a cup of tea and I’m sure she will try and do everything she can to try and heal it but, the impression you get is that they’ve burnt their bridges to a certain extent.”
Asked whether the Sussexes will return to the UK next year, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said: “That would be a question for the Sussexes and we wouldn’t be able to speculate on things that haven’t been confirmed yet.”
On whether the Palace is planning for their return, the spokesperson said: “We wouldn’t speculate at this stage – That’s something we’ve said in the past eight or nine months during the pandemic – we can’t speculate on what will happen next year.”
The Sun Online has approached representatives for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for comment.
— to www.thesun.co.uk