It’s almost been two years since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would be stepping down as senior royals. At the time, the Queen said they would remain as much loved family members – but how has Harry’s relationships with his relatives changed since then?
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world almost two years ago when they announced they were stepping down as senior royals.
In a bombshell statement, the couple revealed they planned to split their time between the UK and North America and would carve out “a progression new role in the institution” while becoming financially independent.
Days later, crunch talks were held in what became known as the Sandringham Summit between Harry, the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William.
It led to the monarch accepting her grandson’s decision to step back from the Firm and she said at the time: “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”
And it’s clear to see that their relationships with some of their family members since then have well and truly changed…
When it was revealed Harry and Meghan would be quitting their royal roles, the Queen was keen to point out they would still be “much loved members of my family”.
Last March, a little over a year after quitting as royals, Harry and Meghan gave a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in which they made a series of shocking and controversial claims about their time as senior royals.
Meghan claimed she had been refused mental health treatment after revealing to palace staff that she was struggling with suicidal thoughts while she was pregnant with their son Archie.
The couple also claimed that questions had been asked about what colour Archie’s skin would be, and Meghan said she believed that the colour of her little boy’s skin was the reason he wasn’t given the title of Prince.
However, during the chat, one person to escape criticism from the pair was the Queen, with Harry saying he had “too much respect” for his grandmother.
Queen ‘surprised’ by Kate Middleton and William’s hurried life-changing announcement. But in response to the interview and claims contained in it, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying the Queen was “saddened” by the allegations raised, but added that “some recollections may vary”.
Despite this, the couple has still had nothing but praise for Her Majesty and in June, paid tribute to her by naming their daughter Lilibet – a pet name of the Queen.
Royal author Omid Scobie told Good Morning America last summer: “When it comes to that relationship with the Queen, it is as strong as ever.
“They have nothing but love for her. Of course, we saw them name their daughter after the Queen’s very nickname. So that really gives us an insight into that close relationship.”
When Harry first started dating Meghan, his relationship with his father seemed strong – with Charles even stepping in to walk Meghan down the aisle on her wedding day.
After the Sussexes moved to America, the Mirror revealed that Charles had been working hard to keep in touch with his youngest son and his family.
But during Oprah interview, Harry made some explosive claims about the nature of the relationship with his dad.
Harry accused his dad of cutting him off financially and claimed he had stopped taking his calls.
“My family literally cut me off financially,” Harry said.
“I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this. I think she saw it coming,” Harry said, adding that it was the inspiration behind Harry and Meghan seeking to land a Netflix deal.
Harry also said he felt “really let down” by his father, saying: “He knows what pain feels like.
“Of course I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that.”
In addition, Harry has also appeared on the Apple TV series The Me You Can’t See, where he spoke about the royals’ “total neglect” and the Armchair Expert podcast, where he lashed out at Charles’s parenting.
He told the podcast : “When it comes to parenting, if I’ve experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I’m going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don’t pass it on.
“It’s a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway, so we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say ‘you know what, that happened to me, I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen to you’.”
Shortly after the Oprah interview, the royals went into mourning after the death of Prince Philip at the age of 99.
It saw Harry return to the UK for the first time since quitting the Firm to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
Many pinned their hopes on the reunion of father and son being the catalyst for them to clear the air.
But following the service, Harry quickly returned to the US, where Meghan had remained as she was heavily pregnant with their daughter Lilibet.
Last month, it was reported that Harry and Charles had barely spoken in eight months, with their relationship at an all-time low.
But just this week, Charles appeared to offer his son an olive branch by praising Harry’s work on climate change in an essay for Newsweek. Could this help turn their relationship around?
Even before stepping down as senior royals, Harry’s relationship with his older brother Prince William appeared to be under pressure.
A rift between them was reportedly sparked by William’s concerns over Harry’s fast-developing relationship with Meghan and the tense row quickly boiled over
And during the Oprah interview, Harry said he and William are on “different paths” and there is “space” between them.
Speaking about his father and brother’s future roles as kings, the prince said: “I am part of the system with them, I always have been, but I guess—and I’m very aware of this—my brother can’t leave that system, but I have. My father and my brother are trapped.”
According to friends, William was “very upset” and “reeling” over the claims, with his head “all over the place”.
Making his first public appearance since the interview alongside wife the Duchess of Cambridge later that week, William couldn’t hold back his thoughts.
Asked at the end of a visit to a school if he had spoken to his brother since the allegations were aired, the William said: “No I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.”
When Sky News reporter Inzamam Rashid asked immediately afterwards if the royal family was a racist family, William turned back towards the press, saying: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
Weeks later, the brothers reunited at Prince Philip’s funeral and were pictured chatting. They also came together last July to unveil a statue of their late mother Princess Diana.
William with Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018 ( Image: Getty Images)
In August, Omid Scobie, one of the authors behind Meghan and Harry’s biography Finding Freedom, claimed that not much progress has been made in improving relations.
In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, he said: “In terms of Harry’ relationship with his father and brother, that progress has been very little.
“I think he is quite willing to own his part in everything, but I have been told that he is also waiting to see some of that on the other side – and as of now there hasn’t been that.”
Before dating Meghan, Harry appeared to have a special bond with sister-in-law Kate, calling her the sister he never had.
After marrying Meghan, there had been reports that Harry’s wife upset Kate in a row about the flower girl dresses.
But during the Oprah interview, Meghan claimed it was the other way around.
She added she had now forgiven Kate, saying that she’s a “good person” and that Kate gave her flowers to apologise for the incident.
Since moving to the US, Meghan and Kate have yet to be reunited, while William’s wife has only seen Harry once – at the funeral of Prince Philip.
Royal expert Duncan Larcombe told OK! as Kate approaches her 40th birthday: “Kate was, as Harry said, the sister he never had and clearly that is not the case anymore.
“There was a time when Harry would have been instrumental in any celebrations or any fun that the couple were having, but those days are long in the past.”